5 Things to Know About Changing Your Name In the UK

Changing your legal name in the UK is relatively easy. You can do it online at the UK Deed Poll Office in as little as three weeks.

Just fill in an application. If you submit it before 3 p.m. on Monday through Friday, the UK Deed Poll Office will process it the same day and dispatch your deed poll within two business days. Once you receive the deed poll in the mail, you just sign and witness it and send it back. That’s it!

Whether you just got married and want to take on your spouse’s last name or you don’t like your first name, changing your name isn’t that hard.

At the same time, it’s not something you should do on a whim. Changing your name is a big decision that will impact the rest of your life.

So here are some things you should know before going through with it:

1. A name change shouldn’t be taken lightly.

You’ve had your name for your entire life. It reflects your identity and perhaps even your personality. If you suddenly change it, it will not only take some adjustment on your part but on the part of all those who know you.

So, think it through. You shouldn’t change your name for the wrong reasons (e.g., to please someone or to get out of a legal obligation).

If you’re changing your name after marriage, wait a bit so you don’t run into issues with any plane tickets or hotel reservations for your honeymoon. Alternatively, change your name well in advance of your marriage. With the passports for newlyweds and civil partners form, you can change your name up to three months prior to your marriage.

2. There are some restrictions to changing your name.

Though you can change your name to pretty much anything, there are some restrictions. Here are the most important ones:

  • Your name must contain both a first name and a last name.
  • Your first name can’t be longer than 250 characters.
  • Your last name can’t be longer than 50 characters.
  • Your name can’t include any symbols or punctuation marks (with the exception of hyphens and apostrophes).
  • Your name must be pronounceable.
  • You can’t change your name to a rank or title such as “Doctor” or “Sir.”

3. You must meet certain requirements to change your name.

To change your name by deed poll, you must meet certain requirements.

First of all, the deed poll must include 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 must then sign and date the declaration in both your old and new name. Two witnesses must sign your deed poll as well and give their names, occupations, and addresses.

Alternatively, you can opt to get your deed poll witnessed in front of a solicitor. This offers more security but requires a set “oath fee” of £5.

4. You will need to change your name on other documents (which can be more difficult).

Though changing your name may be easy at the deed poll office, it’s not always easy everywhere else.

Once you’ve legally changed your name, you’ll need to update it on your passport, driver’s license, bank accounts, utility bills, and other places. Updating your name with different institutions may not cost much money (if any), but it can take a lot of time. Bureaucracies aren’t known for being fast, after all.

To speed up the process, you may want to order multiple original copies of your deed poll for those institutions that require it. That way, you won’t have to wait to get your original deed poll copy back before processing another name update. You can process multiple at once.

5. A name change doesn’t have to cost much money, but it can.

Submitting a deed poll application through the UK Deed Poll Office costs just £18.50 (including postage).

However, changing the name on your passport will cost money. You’ll be charged the full fee to renew your passport, which is £75.50 if you do it online or more if you do it by mail.

Also, keep in mind that if you don’t immediately notify the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) of your name change, you could be fined up to £1,000.

Wrapping it up

Now that you know what changing your name requires, you can make a more informed decision about whether or not you should change yours.

If you decide to go through with it, make sure you let others know as soon as you can (e.g., your family, friends, and employer). That way, you minimize any confusion or friction during the transition and avoid being misaddressed.