Who can change their name

Age restrictions

You must be 16 years of age or more to execute your own deed poll.

If you are 16 or 17 years old, you don't need to have the consent of your parents or anyone with parental responsibility for you to change your name — legally you have the right to choose your own name.  Someone with parental responsibility can only override your wishes in exceptional circumstances, and not just because they disagree with your choice.  However if there is a court order still in force forbidding you from changing your name, you'll have to wait until you are 18 years old.

In general, children under the age of 16 years can have their name changed by anyone with parental responsibility for the child, provided everyone with parental responsibility agrees.  For complete details see the section on how to change your child's name.

Mental capacity

You must have mental capacity at the time you execute (sign) a deed poll, or else it may be considered void.  This means that you must be able to make a decision for yourself without being affected by any impairment or disturbance of the mind, whether permanent or temporary.

You are assumed to have mental capacity unless proven otherwise, and you cannot be treated as unable to make a decision for yourself unless all practicable steps have been taken to help you do so.

You are treated as unable to make a decision if you are unable to —

  • understand the information relevant to the decision
  • retain that information
  • use or weigh that information as part of the process of making the decision
  • communicate your decision (whether by talking, using sign language or any other means)

Making an unwise decision is not enough grounds on its own to justify that you do not have mental capacity.

Nationality restrictions

British citizens

All British nationals can change their name by applying for a deed poll or by any of the alternative methods described on this site (e.g. by marriage).  However there may be some special restrictions on applying for a passport, depending on where you live.

If you live in the U.K., Isle of Man, or Bailiwick of Guernsey

There are no special restrictions — all the advice listed on this site applies to you.

If you live in the Bailiwick of Jersey

You can change your name in Jersey in the same way as the U.K.  However, if you want to renew your passport at the Jersey Passport Office in your new name, an ordinary deed poll as used in the U.K. will not be accepted.  We would therefore prepare a statutory declaration for you, which would need to be signed before an advocate, solicitor, or notary public practising in Jersey.  A statutory declaration will also be accepted by HM Passport Office, as well as all other companies and organisations in the U.K.

An advocate / solicitor / notary public is entitled to charge a fee for witnessing your statutory declaration, however there isn’t a fixed fee by law, like there is in the U.K.  You should therefore call a few lawyers’ offices in your area to quote you a price.  You can expect to pay roughly in the region of £ 40, but make sure what the total price will be before going to have it witnessed.

It’s also possible to execute a deed poll and have it registered at the Royal Court of Jersey — similar to having your deed poll enrolled at the Royal Courts of Justice in England & Wales.  Like enrolled deed polls in England & Wales, we don’t recommend doing this because it’s more difficult and costly, and it’s not a requirement for the Jersey Passport Office or other official bodies.

A resident of Jersey should normally apply for a passport at the Jersey Passport Office, but you also have the option of applying to HM Passport Office for a standard U.K. passport.  However, it’s not possible to apply by post — you would have to apply in person at one of the 7 regional HM Passport Office customer service centres ↗ using their Premium one-day service ↗.  Note that you will need to make an appointment beforehand.

If you live abroad

If you want to change your name and you live abroad, you should think carefully about how you will change your passport.  Your passport, travel bookings and tickets must always be in the same name — otherwise you may be denied entry into a country or refused passage by an airline.  There are two ways to change your passport:

Apply to HM Passport Office whilst visiting the U.K.

If you want to apply for a passport whilst visiting the U.K., there are no special restrictions on changing your name by deed poll, however you will have to provide a residential address in the U.K. where you will be staying long enough that your application can be processed in time before you leave. How long your application takes depends on what sort of application you make and your situation — HM Passport Office makes estimates ↗ about when your passport will be ready, but you should allow enough time for delays.

Alternatively, you can apply in person at one of the 7 regional HM Passport Office customer service centres ↗ using their Premium one-day service ↗.  Note that you will need to make an appointment beforehand.

Apply whilst abroad through the Foreign Office

Passport applications through the Foreign Office are handled by 7 regional processing centres around the world, and sometimes also by the British Embassy or High Commission in the country where you live.  The Foreign Office will accept a deed poll as evidence of a change of name, however their general advice is that:

  • your deed poll should be witnessed by a solicitor or notary public
  • you should also provide documentary evidence that your name has been changed for all purposes.  You should provide at least three other official documents in your new identity — such as a driving licence or bank statement.
  • you may be required to provide further documents or to attend an interview to verify your identity before the application can be processed

In practice, each processing centre may have more relaxed rules than what the Foreign Office generally advises, but some embassies may also have stricter rules, generally depending on the level of passport fraud in the area, and how difficult it is to verify your identity.  Thus countries such as Pakistan and India have very stringent rules, whereas Australia and New Zealand, for example, are more relaxed.

You can check what special restrictions there are in the country where you live, by looking on the Foreign Office website ↗, or by getting in touch with your local British Embassy or Consulate.

However, given the high cost and difficulty of obtaining passports abroad, in general, we recommend that you reduce the risk of your passport application being rejected as much as you can — by following all the recommendations of the Foreign Office as listed above.

Foreign nationals

Our deed polls are primarily intended for British nationals, but can also be used by foreign nationals in some situations:

If you live in the U.K.

You can use a deed poll to update your documents and records in the U.K., such as your driving licence and your tax records, but to update your documents in your country of origin, you’ll have to follow your own country's procedure.

Thus before applying for a deed poll, you should check with your Embassy or High Commission in the U.K. to see:

  • if your country of origin will accept your change of name
  • if they’ll issue you a new passport (or amend your existing passport) to show your new name
  • what the procedure is for changing your name in your country of origin, and — if they’ll accept a change of name by deed poll — whether there are any special requirements for a deed poll to be acceptable, for example, that your deed poll needs to be witnessed by a solicitor, or needs to be legalised

If you cannot change your passport to be in your new name whilst in the U.K., we recommend that you wait until you return to your own country before changing your name.  Your passport, travel bookings and tickets must always be in the same name — otherwise you may be denied entry into a country or refused passage by an airline.

If it’s not possible at all to change your passport to be in your new name, you may have difficulty updating your documents and records in the U.K. — on the grounds that you’re not changing your name for all purposes.

If you are an immigrant to the U.K.

U.K. Visas & Immigration (which is part of the Home Office) will accept a deed poll as evidence of a change of name, though if you want to keep your existing nationality you should follow the above advice for foreign nationals in the U.K.

If you are claiming asylum or you have already been granted asylum (and you’re a refugee), U.K. Visas & Immigration will accept a deed poll (as well as other forms of evidence, such as a marriage certificate) when you apply for asylum, although in general, the more documentation you can provide to verify your identity, the better.

If you want to change your name before applying for British citizenship (or you’ve already changed your name but your identity documents still show your old name), U.K. Visas & Immigration will accept your deed poll (or another form of evidence such as your marriage certificate).  Your naturalisation certificate will normally also state your birth name as well as your new name. In certain circumstances U.K. Visas & Immigration will leave off the birth name, for example in the case of adoption, or a transsexual living in a different gender to that of their birth.

If you need to apply for a Biometric Residence Permit, U.K. Visas & Immigration will also accept a deed poll.  If you already hold a Biometric Residence Permit and you change your name, then you should apply for a new permit by completing form BRP(RC) ↗.

U.K. Visas & Immigration will also accept a deed poll for a change of name on any of the following travel documents:

  • Convention Travel Document
  • Stateless Person's Document
  • One-Way Document
  • Certificate of Travel

If you change your name you should apply for a new travel document by completing form TD112 ↗.

If you live outside the U.K.

Generally, a deed poll issued by us will not help you change your name.  However, if you have a specific reason to apply for a deed poll anyway, we are happy to process your application.

People with dual nationality

If you are a British national and you hold (or you are seeking to hold) nationality of another country, you should check the rules in that country to see whether your deed poll will be acceptable, and what special requirements there may be.  If you are resident in the U.K. and you also need to apply for a passport in the other nationality, you should also follow the advice for foreign nationals above — that is, you should check with your embassy that they can issue you with a new passport.

If you are an undischarged bankrupt or subject to a Debt Relief Order

You can change your name by deed poll. However:

  • you must notify your Offical Receiver (and trustee, if applicable). Your Official Receiver will update the Individual Insolvency Register.
  • if you do business (directly or indirectly) in your new name you must tell everyone you do business with the name in which you were made bankrupt. It is a criminal offence not to do so, punishable by up to 2 years in prison and a fine.

Once you are discharged from bankruptcy, or your Debt Relief Order is lifted, you are no longer subject to these restrictions, and you can change your name in the normal way.

If there are criminal proceedings against you

You can change your name by deed poll, but you must tell the police about your change of name.

If you have a criminal record

You can change your name by deed poll — having a criminal record does not prevent you in any way. However there are cases where you must tell certain bodies about your change of name:

If you are on probation (England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and formerly in Scotland)

You must tell your Offender Manager (or Probation Officer, in Northern Ireland) about your change of name.

Offenders were also placed on probation in Scotland for offences committed before 1st February 2011. Since that date, Community Payback Orders have been used instead.

If you are serving a Community Payback Order (Scotland only)

You must tell your Social Worker about your change of name.

Community Payback Orders have been used for offences in Scotland committed since 1st February 2011.

If you are on the Violent and Sex Offender Register (ViSOR)

You must tell the police within 3 days of your change of name. Failure to do so is a criminal offence, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.