Changing the name on your birth certificate (Scotland)
The original details registered on a Scottish birth certificate cannot be changed. It’s considered a matter of fact — it’s a historical record of the facts at the time it was made.
There are some cases where National Records of Scotland (NRS) will re-register a birth or make a correction to an existing record.
You can also record a change of name on the birth certificate in addition to the original details.
Corrections to the birth register are recorded in a separate register called the Register of Corrected Entries (RCE). A cross-reference to the RCE volume and page is added in the margin of the statutory register entry.
If you order a birth certificate which has been corrected, you’ll get a typed certificate with the details in the original entry, but corrected as instructed in the RCE entry.
National Records of Scotland will record in the register a change of forenames or surname for anyone —
- whose birth was registered in Scotland
- who is subject to a Parental Order made in Scotland
- who has been legally adopted in Scotland
- who is listed in the Gender Recognition Register
The change will be recorded against the original entry in the register. If the child is under the age of 12 months, and you change only the forenames, then any future birth certificates will show only the new forenames. In all other cases, any future birth certificates will show the new names but also your original names and any previous name changes you’ve had recorded.
It costs £ 55 to record a change of name on the birth register, including your new birth certificate, and then £ 10 for any additional certificates, although there’s a reduced rate for the recording fee if multiple family members make an application together.
There are some limitations to the changes you can make:
- Only one change of forenames and one change of surname may be recorded for a child under the age of 16 years.
- For people aged 16 years or over, only one change of forenames and up to three changes of surname may be recorded.
- For people aged 16 years or over, if you’ve already changed your surname, you must wait 5 years before you can change your surname again.
To apply for a change to you or your child's name, you’ll have to complete one of the forms below. For children under the age of 16 years, everyone with parental responsibilities must sign the form. People aged 16 years or over should apply on their own behalf. There’s a leaflet with further details available from NRS.
- To change only the forenames of a child under the age of 12 months, you’ll need to complete application form 21
- To change the forenames or surname of a child under the age of 16 years, you’ll need to complete application form 23
- To change the forenames or surname of anyone aged 16 years or over, you’ll need to complete application form 24
- If the parents of the child weren’t married at the time of the birth and haven’t got married since, or if the father's details don’t appear on the birth entry, then you should also complete application form PRF
Why change your name by deed poll instead
Although Scots law allows changes to the birth and adoption registers that aren’t permissible in England and Wales, a person whose birth or adoption was registered in Scotland can nonetheless make use of a deed poll to change their name — their deed poll will be accepted by all U.K. government departments.
You might therefore consider changing your name by deed poll if:
- you don’t want your birth certificate to be permanently changed — most people would want to adopt a new name, but keep their birth record intact, in the same way that a woman (traditionally) takes her husband’s surname on marriage
- you’ve changed your name the maximum number of times permissible by NRS, and you want to change it again
- you’re aged 16 years or over, and you’ve had your surname changed within the last 5 years, and you want to change it again before the 5 year period is over
- you want to keep the change of name private. Bear in mind that changing your name with NRS records the name change on a public register and anyone would have access to the change of name. If you’re a victim of domestic violence, for example, it may be in your interests not to have the change recorded publicly.
- you want to change your name more cheaply. NRS will charge you a base fee of £ 55, assuming you want a new birth certificate to be issued.
- you want to change your name more quickly. NRS will take up to 2 weeks to process your application.
- you want to change the name of a child who is resident in Scotland, and you don't have consent from everyone with parental responsibilities. It’s enough to have the consent of only one person with parental responsibilities, provided they’ve consulted everyone else with parental responsibilities, as far as practical, and taken their views into account.