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Officially changing your name as an adult who is a permanent resident in England or Wales is a relatively simple and inexpensive process that can be done without instructing a solicitor to complete the paperwork for you. This can be done by obtaining a legal document that proves a change of name, called a deed poll. You can change your forename, middle name and surname if you wish, including adding hyphens or changing spellings.
One option is to make an 'unenrolled' deed poll, which you can do yourself if you are over the age of 16. The wording that needs to be used in the deed poll is given on the government website at https://www.gov.uk/change-name-deed-poll/make-an-adult-deed-poll. Once your old and new signatures have been witnessed by two people, the deed poll will act as proof of your new name.
This may not, however, enable you to change your name with some organisations, who may require a more official document: an 'enrolled' deed poll. These includes the Passport Office and the DVLA, and financial institutions such as banks are likely to require an 'enrolled' deed poll as well.
'Enrolling' a deed poll with the Royal Courts of Justice means that you are putting your new name on record and you must be over the age of 18 to do this. The forms that need to be filled in can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-to-change-your-name-forms-loc020-loc021-and-loc025, and you will need to attach written consent to your name change from your spouse if you are married. Your signatures for both your old and new names will need to be witnessed by two people, and Statutory Declaration completed by someone who has known you for at least ten years. This Declaration will then need to be taken to a solicitor, commissioner for oaths or an officer of the Senior Court for the declarant to swear that the information they have provided is true. Lastly, the details of the name change are published in the London Gazette.
Although the procedure may sound complicated, all of the forms required are contained in the pack on the government website with clear guidance given for the information required in each step of the application and the evidence that will need to be submitted in support of it. The total cost, paid to the Courts and Tribunals Service is at the time of writing £36 and can be paid by cheque if sending the completed application forms or by cash or card if lodged with the court in person. There may also be a small fee payable to the solicitor, commissioner for oaths or officer of the Senior Court for swearing the Statutory Declaration.
If you are divorced and wish to officially revert to your maiden name you do not need to complete a deed poll, but rather submit your Decree Absolute as evidence to the organisations that require it.
The process for changing the name of a child is different and you should consider obtaining specialist legal advice in this instance.
For further information and advice on this issue, and other family law issues, please contact us for a free initial consultation on 01992 306 616 or 0207 956 2740 or email us.Back to Law Articles