Family Law

Change Of Name

A Change of Name Deed is often referred to as a Deed Poll. The name Deed Poll is an old legal term. A Change of Name Deed is a Deed Poll.

Who can apply for a Change of Name Deed?

Most people can apply for a change of name. There are restrictions with regard to age, nationality and country of residence. There are also provisions concerning asylum seekers, refugees, undischarged bankrupts, people with criminal records and people detained under the Mental Health Act. If these are appropriate Douglas Clift & Co Solicitors will advise you of the matters save for criminal records.

Can I change my children’s names?

A child’s legal name can be changed providing that everybody who has Parental Responsibility consents to the change of name. If the whereabouts of one person with Parental Responsibility is unknown it is possible to apply to change the child’s name, and we will advise you of the procedure.

If a person with Parental Responsibility refuses to allow a change of name it is possible to apply to the court for a change of name. Whether the courts will grant this will depend upon the child’s best interests including the child’s wishes, but generally the courts do not like changing the surname of a child unless there are very good reasons for doing so.

Are there any restrictions on names?

Generally you can call yourself any name you like except in the following circumstances:

  • (a) If the name does not include at least one forename and one surname.
  • (b) It is impossible to pronounce.
  • (c) It includes numbers or symbols.
  • (d) It includes punctuation marks (save for hyphenated names or surnames such as O’Leary, for example).
  • (e) Vulgar, offensive, blasphemous or unsuitable names.
  • (f) A name which may result in others believing that you have inherited an honour or a title when you have not.
  • (g) When it is clear that you are trying to pass yourself off as somebody else.

Is a Change of Name registered?

Most people think that a Change of Name is registered in a central registry but in fact it isn’t. It is possible to enrol your name in the Enrolment Books of the Supreme Court of Judicature but this is a complicated and expensive procedure and has little benefit.

Can a birth certificate be changed?

It is very rare for a Birth Certificate to be changed. There are only certain circumstances when that can happen. This is because a Birth Certificate is an historical record and was correct at the date that the registration took place.

  • (a) Changing a child’s forename – if you wish to change the forenames of a child it is possible, provided the new forenames were given either in Baptism within 12 months of the birth being registered, or by regular use within 12 months of the birth being registered. Documentary evidence of the new forenames that were in use within 12 months of registration will be required.
  • (b) Changing a child’s surname from the mother’s surname to the father’s surname (parents not married) – if the parents of a child were not married to each other at the time of the birth and the father did not attend with the mother to register the child, it is possible to re-register the birth at any time in the future to include the father’s details and change the surname of the child to that of the father (only if both parents agree, otherwise a court order is required). Upon re-registration a new Birth Certificate can be purchased.
  • (c) Changing a child’s surname from the mother’s surname to the father’s surname (parents married after birth) – if the natural parents have married each other since the birth was registered, the birth can be re-registered to show the child as the child of the parents’ marriage. Upon re-registration the child and mother’s surname can be changed to that of the father.

Changing your name on your British Passport

The name on your Passport should always match your legal name. If you have changed your name you need to get your Passport re-issued in your new name. In all cases you will need to apply for a new ten-year Passport or five-year Passport in the case of a child. This means that your current Passport will be cancelled and your new Passport will usually be credited with the extra time of up to nine months towards the unexpired time on your current Passport.

Storing your Change of Name Deed

Douglas Clift & Co Solicitors will issue you with the original and some certified copies, which can be used for many institutions such as banks, to prove your change of name. You should always ensure that your original Change of Name Deed is kept in a safe place. It is possible to obtain a further Change of Name Deed if you do lose your original one, but this can often be an expensive and time consuming matter.

How can Douglas Clift & Co Solicitors of Lancaster help you?

Our Family Law Solicitors are ready and at hand to discuss your requirements with you and can provide a free no obligation appointment (half an hour). Lynsey Rees who is a member of the Law Society Family Advanced Scheme and a member of the Children Panel can be contacted on 01524 32437 or via our contact page.