In excess of 58,000 people recently changed their name in the UK. It is no longer the exclusive domain of those burdens with embarrassing identities or public personas to protect – Elton John and John Wayne step aside.
So how does the process of changing your name actually work and is it straightforward?
Basically, you need to attain a legal document known as a ‘Deed Poll’ (Deed of Change of Name) which acts as proof of a name change. This document can be provided to all appropriate bodies in the same way as a Marriage Certificate for newly married women.
A Deed Poll is a form of Legal contract but only relates to one person (differing from the traditional contracts that require two). It is legally accepted by all organisations, companies and bodies within the UK and British Embassies across the world.
Please note that you need to be at least 16 to change your name. If you are a minor, the legal responsibility falls with parent or guardian.
There are now literally hundreds of websites and organisations offering to supply Deed Poll documentation (www.Deedpoll.org.uk is the most popular). In the age of convenience changing a name can take a few clicks of a button. In reality, the actual process takes up to two weeks to complete all paperwork. Deed Polls can be issued by Solicitors (not legally required) and organisations.
In order to attain this documentation, you may be asked to prove that you do not intend to commit a crime such as fraud by changing your name. On a similar thread, if you have been declared bankrupt it is essential that your previous name is made known. Deed Polls can be created at home on the condition they are acceptable to relevant agencies. When documentation is received it requires to be signed by a witness such as:
- A Friend
- Work Colleague
- Respected Member of the community
Who do I need to notify of a name change?
As with a change of address, there are a number of important bodies you legally must contact when you change your name. These include:
- Passport – this is the only item that will result in charge (£77.50)
- Driving Licence
- Bank Accounts (including Credit Cards)
- Medical Records
- Council Tax
- Mortgage Provider
- Utility Provider
The list is almost inexhaustible so it is recommended to create a personal check list in order to inform all parties.
Although most names are acceptable there are basic criteria you should consider before submitting to changing your name. You may not use symbols, vulgar language, academic qualification (without relevant proof) or a group of letters that cannot be pronounced.
If you are Scottish, Deed Polls are not part of the current law but various forms of other proof include a statutory declaration.
So there you have it, if you want to become ‘James Bond’ or the growing number of ‘Dangers’ across the country, the completion of the straightforward form and provision of appropriate proof is all it actually takes in most circumstances. Please pick wisely!