Why you might want to change your name

You don't need to have any kind of valid reason to change your name, so long as it is not for any fraudulent purpose, such as avoiding paying a debt or fulfilling an obligation — you are free to change your name at any time.  However typical reasons people change their name are:

  • if you get married or enter into a civil partnership, or you want to take your partner’s name
  • if you get divorced, dissolve a civil partnership, or end a long-term relationship
  • to take a double-barrelled name after you marry, or enter into a civil partnership
  • to feel more part of a new family, for example a step-family
  • to honour or recognise another person, for example a family member or ancestor
  • to restore a family surname that has been changed in the past
  • as part of a change of gender
  • because you dislike your current name
  • to separate yourself from a particular person or a time or event in your life
  • to stop a former partner finding you
  • to anglicise a foreign name, that is — to change the form or spelling to make it more understandable for English speakers
  • to de-anglicise a name that has been anglicised in the past
  • to identify with or fit in with another culture, country, or religion
  • to change or correct the spelling of your name
  • to shorten your name (e.g. by taking away middle names)
  • because your name was registered incorrectly (e.g. your forename and surname were registered the wrong way round, or with a spelling mistake in one of the names)
  • as a condition of a will or inheritance

Frivolous purposes

There is nothing wrong with changing your name purely for the pleasure or fun of having a new name, and we will support anybody who is changing their name for whatever reason (or simply for no reason).  Everybody has the right to change their name, at any time, and you don’t need to justify why you have done so.

Nevertheless, some changes of name, while not illegal, may be considered by HM Passport Office or other government bodies to be for a frivolous purpose.  This means that although these bodies may accept your change of name, they may require additional evidence that you are using the new name for all purposes.

Your change of name may be considered frivolous if it seems that you are:

  • changing your name for a bet
  • changing your name on a whim
  • changing your name for a humorous reason
  • changing your name for purely commercial gain
  • changing your name at the same time as a group of other people for a joint purpose — known as linked applications