Change of Name Deeds

In the United Kingdom, anyone aged 16 or over can change their name simply by adopting a new name. This is called change of name by usage. If, however, you need to change official records and documents (such as your Passport, bank account or property deeds) you will need to change your name by Change of Name Deed. The only exceptions to this are as follows:

  • Marriage Certificate - allows a woman to change her surname to that of her husband
  • Decree Absolute Certificate - allows a divorcee to revert to her maiden name
  • Death Certificate - allows a widow to revert to her maiden name
  • Adoption Order - allows an adopted child to change his/her surname to the adopted family surname

A Change of Name Deed is a formal statement to prove that you have changed your name and it provides you with documentary evidence of the name by which you wish to be known.

When changing your name, you cannot have a name that is impossible to pronounce or a name that includes numbers, symbols or punctuation marks – although you can have a hyphen to link forenames or surnames (for example, if you want a double-barrelled surname) or an apostrophe in the case of names like O’Callaghan. You must also have at least one first name and one surname.

Change of Name Deeds are not registered anywhere unless you choose to have your Change of Name Deed lodged for safe keeping and entered in the Enrolment Books of the Central Office of the Supreme Court of Deeds which is situated at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. However, this is not necessary and only adds to the cost of changing your name. Most people who change their name only wish to inform those who have reason to know. Consequently, very few Change of Name Deeds are enrolled.

Other than the above restrictions, you can change your first names, surname (or both), add names, remove names or rearrange your existing names. You can change your name at any time or for any reason provided it is not for deceptive or fraudulent purposes or for the avoidance of obligations.

On completing and signing a Change of Name Deed in the presence of a witness, you will be entitled to insist that all identification and documentation is transferred into your new name. The only documents that cannot be changed are Birth, Marriage and Decree Absolute Certificates. You must however be 18 years or older to make a Change of Name Deed and as stated above it must not be made for the purpose of fraud.

Once you have changed your name, most companies and organisations will accept certified copies of your Change of Name Deed, but banks and building societies ask to see the original. The following is a list of the companies and organisations that should know that you have changed your name:

  • Your employer
  • Inland Revenue
  • Department of Health and Social Security
  • Doctor
  • Dentist
  • Department of Vehicle Licensing at Swansea
  • Passport Office. You can either have your old passport amended or get a new passport. It is probably better to get a new passport as some countries do not accept amended passports
  • Bank and/or building societies
  • Credit card companies
  • Finance companies
  • Premium Bond office
  • Investment companies
  • Companies in which you have shares
  • Pension companies
  • Insurance companies
  • Motoring organisations
  • Professional institutes and bodies
  • Clubs, societies and associations

It should be noted that a Change of Name Deed is only recognised by the United Kingdom Government Departments, companies and organisations. If you are a foreign national living in the UK, you should check with your country’s High Commission or Embassy in London to see if your Change of Name Deed will be accepted to get your Passport changed to show your new name. Countries that have a legal system based on the British legal system will usually accept a Change of Name Deed issued by us.

Changing the Name of a Child

A parent, that is, the person or persons who have parental responsibility for a child, can change their child’s name by Change of Name Deed so long as the child is under 18 years of age (persons aged 18 years and over must apply for their own Change of Name Deed).

All Change of Name Deed applications for children must be supported by a letter of consent, which confirms that those with parental responsibility have consented to the child’s change of name. A letter of consent is not just required by us, since no school, doctor or similar official record holder (such as the Passport Agency) should cause a child to be known by a new name without clarification that all parties with parental responsibility have given their consent to the name change.

If your child is 16 or 17 years of age, in addition to one of these parental consent requirements, the child must also consent in writing to their name being changed by Change of Name Deed. This is because at the age of 16 a person can decide for themselves by what name they wish to be known by (although they cannot change their name by Change of Name Deed until they are 18 years of age).