Changing your name | How to change your name
Why would you change your name?
Some would argue that your name is as much part of your identity as the colour of your fingerprint. However, unlike your fingerprint, your identity can change a bit as time passes. This can make you start considering of changing your name.
Most obviously, many women choose to change their names when they get married. However, increasingly, couples choose other options such as a double-barrelled version or a “meshed” name that links both surnames. Or perhaps a name that’s new to both of them, signifying their new status.
Sadly many marriages - 113,949 in 2010 according to the Office of National Statistics - end in divorce and this prompts many women to revert to their maiden names.
Of course, some people simply hate their names while others do it as a way to put their past behind them.
In these tight economic times some couples can’t afford to divorce, but, instead, separate and change their names.
Some people will also change their names for professional reasons such as actors and authors.
Reasons for and against changing your name
If you’re trying to decide whether to take the plunge here are a few pros and cons.
- You can choose the name YOU want.
- It’s a clear way of making a new start.
- It can make things more straightforward.
- The official part is easy, but there are a lot of people to inform.
- It may cause confusion.
- It can be pricey to change your name on some documents. The Passport Office fees start at £77.50 to change a name on a passport.
Age restrictions for changing your name
There are no age restrictions.
Anyone aged over 16 can change their name whenever they want. Children aged between 16 and 18 do not need parental consent.
Anyone under 16 can ask a parent or guardian to prepare the deed poll documentation on their behalf.
How to change your name
Once you are certain of changing your name, whether to an old name or to something entirely new, all you need to do is start using it. There is no legal requirement to provide "deed poll" documentation.
However, for official matters, such as banking or property, some documentation is required.
Name change documentation
Contrary to popular belief you do NOT need to purchase a deed poll document to officially change your name - ever! There is no government agency or official government service which provides this. You can prepare a deed poll for free at home so long as you word it correctly and have it witnessed.
- If you are a new bride, the wedding certificate should be enough documentation if you take your husband’s name. However, a man who wants to ‘mesh’ his name with his wife’s, will need a deed poll document.
- A deed poll document can be prepared at home, should be typed, isre the correct language and must be witnessed by two responsible, professional adults. The document should also be signed in both your old and new name and dated. Use this completely free service to get your legal deed poll document.
- You can purchase a deed poll document and many companies captilise on people's belief that the deed poll is some kind of "official" or "governmental" documentation.
Managing director of divorce-online.co.uk, Mark Keenan said: “The law of England and Wales does not require adults to follow any procedure in order to change their names. You can call yourself whatever you want, as long as you are not doing it in order to defraud anyone, however this can cause practical problems with actually proving you have changed it.
“Most people will have a change of name deed created which sets out their former names, their new names, the date they changed it and this is signed in the old name, new name and witnessed and dated to create a deed.”
The situation is the same in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
If you marry and you do not want to change your name, simply don't use your new surname, it will only "officially" change if you start using it.
Who should I tell when changing my name?
There is no central government registry which keeps logs of names but there's still a few people to tell so your new name passes into "official" use. Here’s a checklist of who to inform of your new name:
- Your employer.
- Your pension provider.
- Your landlord or mortgage firm.
- The Department of Work and Pensions.
- The council.
- The electoral registration officer.
- Utility and phone companies.
- Banks, building societies and investment companies.
- Credit card, store card and loan companies.
- The Passport Agency.
- Your child’s school.
- Insurance companies.
- The Inland Revenue.
- Your GP and dentist.
- The trade union or other professional bodies.
How to choose a new name
“My favourite change of name was a criminal client I had many years ago who changed his name to Alfie Special Brew just before a hearing. He was sent down but caused a lot of amusement at court,” said managing director of divorce-online.co.uk, Mark Keenan.
While causing a stir in court might not be a very common reason for choosing a name, the names chosen are just as varied.
Sometimes people find they have the same name as a famous person and want to change, others are inspired by someone in public life. They may prefer a name that better reflects who they.
If you’re really stumped, inspiration can come from the place you live, family names, hobbies. Alternatively check out baby names online or in a book.
You can also use services which claim to calculate how successful and happy your new name will make you. If you're interested in name numerology and the hidden meaning behind names then you can use free services online, purchase a report or have a consultation with an name expert.
Just be sure you check your initials before you choose your name. For example you might think Penelope Imogen Gill is a lovely name but the initials are P.I.G. Eeek!
By Ellen Arnison