In the UK, you can change any part of your name and start using it without a legal process.
However, you may wish to opt for a deed poll (enrolment) to put your change of name on the official register, including a notice in The Gazette (London or Belfast edition) under notice code 2901.
A change of name deed poll is a legal document that will allow you to more easily change your name on official documentation, such as on a passport or driving licence. It provides documentary evidence that you have changed your name and that you are legally binding yourself to using your new name. Some record holders will only accept a new name that’s been enrolled using the official forms.
A change of name deed poll contains the following three declarations:
- I am abandoning my previous name
- I will use my new name at all times
- I require all persons to address me by my new name only
You don't need a deed poll to change your surname after marriage or civil partnership; you'll just need a marriage or civil partnership certificate to apply for documents in your new name. In the event of divorce or end of a civil partnership, some organisations won’t change your name back without a deed poll, though you may be able to go back to your original name by showing either your marriage certificate and decree absolute or civil partnership certificate and final order.
How do I make a deed poll?
You can apply for a deed poll by enrolling it at the Royal Courts of Justice, using the official forms, which includes a change of name deed, statutory declaration and notice for The Gazette.
The fee, which is currently £36, includes an enrolment fee, advertisement charge and a copy of the published notice. You will need to complete the documents and sign in the presence of two witnesses that you are not related to. The Royal Courts of Justice will then submit the Gazette notice on your behalf.
The Gazette evidences the change of name through the High Court, and the notice is mandatory when enrolling a deed through the High Court. (From 1914, enrolled deed polls had to be advertised in The Gazette, though some are gazetted previous to this.)
For people under 18 years, everyone with parental responsibility for them must give their permission for the change, and the forms are slightly different.
If you were born in Scotland, you will need to contact the Scottish courts to arrange a change of name under their procedures. You can find the forms at www.nrscotland.gov.uk.
For more information, see Change your name by deed poll