Change of name
How you change your name is dependent on whether you are married or not
While many of us keep our own names, others want to share the last name of their partner. How you go about doing this will depend upon whether you are married, civil partnered, or not.
If you marry or register a civil partnership, taking your partner’s surname is straightforward with few formalities needed. Marriage and civil partnership certificates are legal documents and should enable you to take your partner’s name on official documents like your driver’s licence or passport, for example.
When it comes to changing the name of a child (a person under the age of 18) it is only possible to change the child’s birth certificate in certain circumstances. However, even if the circumstances do not apply and it is not possible to change the birth certificate, it is possible to change the name by which the child is known on a day-to-day basis – this is known as ‘change of name by usage’.
If you are changing your child’s first name within 12 months of birth registration, the new full birth certificate will show both the original and the new first name. The short birth certificate will only show the new first name.
Changing your child’s surname could be more complicated.
Changing your name
Not married or not civil partnered
If you are not married or not civil partnered and want to change your name on official documents, you will need to change your name by Deed Poll. However, birth certificates, marriage or civil partnership certificates, and decree absolute or dissolution certificates cannot be changed.
Married or civil partnered
A person may change their surname to that of their partner when they marry or register a civil partnership simply by adopting the name. Marriage and civil partnership certificates are legal documents and should enable you to take your partner’s name on official documents, like your driver’s licence or passport.
If you wish to combine your surname with your partner’s, all government departments, the Passport Office and DVLA will accept a marriage or civil partnership certificate as evidence of a change to a double-barrelled surname.
If you wish to change your surname completely, this must be done by Deed Poll. Before the ceremony, one partner can change their name by Deed Poll, and then, when they marry or register their civil partnership, the other partner can take on the new name (but original names on birth certificates will remain unchanged).
It is possible to change the name on your passport up to three months before the wedding or civil partnership registration, but it cannot be used until the actual day of your marriage or registration. Make sure you have enough time, at least six weeks, to change the documents you need for your honeymoon before you travel.
You are strongly advised not to travel overseas holding documents with different names.
Deed Poll: A legal document that binds the person who signs it to the course of action detailed on the Deed Poll document.
Deed Poll document: Provides documentary evidence that you have changed your name and that you are legally binding yourself to using your new name. A Deed Poll will be recognised by all UK government departments, UK companies and organisations if it is prepared by a recognised authority (such as the UK Deed Poll Service) or a solicitor.
Changing your child’s name
You may want to change either your child’s first name or surname, or you may simply want your child to be known by a particular first name which is different from the name on the birth certificate. So long as there is agreement between the parents, there is nothing to stop you changing the name by which your child is known on a day-to-day basis.
Remember though that the name on the birth certificate will, almost without exception, have to remain the same. You may wish to execute a Deed Poll to confirm the day-to-day name although this is not essential. A Deed Poll will not get the child’s birth certificate changed.
If, for example, you wish to change your child’s surname to their step-parent’s name by Deed Poll, the consent of everyone who has parental responsibility is needed.
If both parents do not agree about the names by which a child is to be known, they can apply to court for the judge to decide (but this would still not affect the name on the birth certificate). An application to the court to change a child’s surname is normally only successful when everyone who has parental responsibility for the child has given written consent.
Changing the name on your child’s birth certificate will require re-registering the birth. This will only be allowed in certain limited circumstances, for example, if the natural parents marry each other at a later date. In other circumstances, if both parents agree, a child’s birth certificate can be changed if the child’s surname is being changed from the mother’s surname to the father’s surname.
However if the child was registered with the father’s surname, it is not possible to change the child’s surname back to the mother’s on the birth certificate.