Frequently asked questions

Contents
  1. What is a deed poll?
  2. Do I really need a deed poll?
  3. Who can change their name?
  4. What sort of name can you choose?
  5. Why would you want to change your name?
  6. Who should you tell about your new name?
  7. Can you change your birth certificate?
  8. Where do you have to register a deed poll?
  9. How much does a deed poll cost?
  10. What price reductions are there for multiple applications?
  11. What other costs will there be to change my name?
  12. How long will it take to change my name in total?
  13. Is there an official deed poll office?
  14. Is a deed poll proof of identity?
  15. Do I have to send you my identification documents?
  16. Do I have to send you proof of consent from everyone with parental responsibility to change my child's name?
  17. Do I need to send my deed poll back to you after I have executed it?
  18. Can I order duplicates (copies) of my deed poll?
  19. How many duplicates of my deed poll should I order?
  20. How do I get certified copies of a previously issued deed poll?
  21. Who can act as a witness when I execute (sign) my deed poll?
  22. When do I need to have my deed poll witnessed by a solicitor?
  23. When do I need to have my deed poll legalised?
  24. Will HM Passport Office accept my deed poll?
  25. Can I use my deed poll abroad?
  26. Do I need to take my deed poll when I go abroad?
  27. I don't hold a current U.K. passport — do I need to order a new passport in my new name?
  28. Will my new passport mention my old name?
  29. Can you prepare a "family" deed poll?
  30. Can I change my name if I am an undischarged bankrupt or subject to a Debt Relief Order?
  31. Can I change my name if there are criminal proceedings against me?
  32. Can I change my name if I have a criminal record?
  33. Can I change my name by deed poll if I was born in Scotland?
  34. Can I change my name by deed poll if I am a British national living abroad?
  35. Can I change my name by deed poll if I am not British, but I live in the U.K.?
  36. Can I change the name on my birth certificate?
  37. Can I change the name on other certificates or legal documents?
  38. Do I need a deed poll to revert to my birth name?
  39. What order should I tell organisations about my name? — Who should I tell first?
  40. Do I have to tell everyone about my new name?
  41. Do I have to update my passport in my new name?
  42. Do I have to update my driving licence in my new name?
  43. Will I have to tell people that I have been known by another name in the past?
  44. Can my employer (or potential employer) ask me about my former name?
  45. Can I change my name to stop someone finding me?
  46. I have applied for a DBS check (formerly called a CRB check) in the past. Do I need to inform the Disclosure and Barring Service about my name change?
  47. Will changing my name affect my credit rating?
  48. Is it legal to be known by more than one name?
  49. I am a sole trader trading in my own name. If I change my name, can I carry on trading in my old name?
  50. Can I call myself after a celebrity?
  51. Can I call myself after a trademark?
  52. Can I call myself with a phrase or saying?
  53. Can I call myself with a political statement?
  54. Can I call myself something vulgar or offensive?
  55. Can I use a single name?
  56. Can I change my name for a bet?
  57. Can I prepare my own deed poll?
  58. Can I search your records for genealogical purposes?

How much does a deed poll cost?

It costs £ 14.00 for a standard online deed poll application, including postage. The price is the same for an adult and a child application, but there are reduced rates when multiple family members apply at the same time. For more details, see the current price list.

What price reductions are there for multiple applications?

Family members that apply (online) at the same time pay £ 14.00 for the first application, and the following reduced rates for additional applications:

  • Additional adult applications cost £ 9.00
  • Additional child applications cost £ 6.00

We will always try to calculate the lowest possible combined price, for example if you order any adult and child deed polls in the same application.

To qualify for additional deed polls at the reduced price all applicants must live at the same address. Anyone who lives at a different address should make a separate application. (For child applications the applicant is the person who will execute (sign) the deed poll on the child's behalf — not the child themself.)

For more information about prices, see the current price list.

What other costs will there be to change my name?

Almost all record holders will update your records free of charge, including the DVLA.

HM Passport Office currently charge £ 72.50 to amend an adult passport, or £ 46.00 for a child passport. However, you would receive a new 10-year passport (or 5-year passport for a child). HM Passport Office will also add any remaining time left on your passport to your new passport, up to a maximum of 9 months.

How long will it take to change my name in total?

We aim to process your application and despatch the order within 2 working days of receiving it. Thus you can normally expect the deed poll to arrive within 3–4 working days, with standard First Class delivery.

We also offer a priority service, for an additional fee of £ 4.50. With the priority service, applications are processed and despatched the same working day — provided your order was received before 3 p.m. If your order is received after 3 p.m., we treat it as though it had arrived the following day.

The whole process of updating your records with all record holders usually takes 3–8 weeks, depending on how promptly you do it. We recommend that you order several duplicates of your deed poll so that you can notify several record holders at once — having only one copy of the deed poll will slow down the process considerably.

HM Passport Office generally processes applications within 3 weeks. You can choose to pay more to have your application processed more quickly. If you are in a rush, you can apply in person at one of the 7 regional IPS customer service centres ↗ using their Premium one-day service ↗. Note that you will need to make an appointment beforehand.

The DVLA normally processes driving licence applications within 3 weeks.

Is there an official deed poll office?

No, there is no such thing as an official deed poll office or deed poll service. There is a lot of confusion about what a deed poll is — it is a legal document — not a certificate; and any solicitor could also prepare a deed poll for you. Changing your name officially means that you change it for all purposes, to be the name on your passport, driving licence, and so on. A deed poll is a means to accomplishing that fact. Our deed polls are accepted by all official bodies in the U.K.

Is a deed poll proof of identity?

No — a deed poll is proof that you have changed your name, but it is not a proof of identity. However, if you have changed your name, it is used as evidence of your identity in conjunction with other identity documents, such as your birth certificate or your passport.

A deed poll is a legal document, which is ultimately authenticated by you and your witness — it is not a certificate. When you present your deed poll as evidence of your new name, you always have to produce your identification documents as well.

Note that when any organisation has to establish your identity, such as HM Passport Office or the DVLA, and your application involves more than one name change, they will insist on seeing all your deed polls, as well as your identification documents, because they need evidence of each link from the name on your identification documents to your current name.

Do I have to send you my identification documents?

No, we don't ask you to send us your identification documents, because a deed poll is not a proof of identity, and if we did insist on seeing identification documents, it would make little to no difference to the status of your deed poll. So although there is some value in us seeing your documents, it does not justify the risk or expense of sending them through the post.

When you use your deed poll to update your documents in your new name, you always have to produce your identification documents as well. A deed poll is not a certificate, and we are not a certifying authority — a deed poll is a legal document which is ultimately authenticated by you and your witness.

No, we don't ask to see proof of consent from everyone with parental responsibility for the same reason we don't need to see identification documents: a deed poll is not a certificate — it is a legal document, which is ultimately authenticated by you and your witness. It does not certify that you have parental responsibility, and when you present it as evidence of your child's change of name, you always have to produce the proof of consent from everyone with parental responsibility as well. If we did insist on seeing proof of consent, it would make little to no difference to the status of your deed poll. So although there is some value in us seeing it, it does not justify the risk or expense of sending them through the post.

Note that we consider it an important and valuable part of our service to establish who has parental responsibility, and under what legislation. We include a summary of this information and letter templates when we send you your deed poll, which you can send with the deed poll to record holders when you update your child's records. Few organisations, other than HM Passport Office, have a complete understanding of all the rules governing parental responsibility, except in the most simple cases.

Do I need to send my deed poll back to you after I have executed it?

No, your deed poll is valid once you have executed it (signed it in front of a witness) — you do not need to send it back to us.

Can I order duplicates (copies) of my deed poll?

Yes — when you make a deed poll application you can specify how many duplicates of your deed poll you would like to order. Each duplicate is an original document and must be executed (signed in front of a witness) in the same way and at the same time. Duplicates cost an extra £ 1.50 each.

After your application has been processed we cannot re-issue your deed poll. Thus it is important to order a sufficient number of duplicates when you make your application. Once your deed poll has been executed, if you want a copy of it you will have to get a certified copy from a magistrate or a Commissioner for Oaths, which is normally more expensive. If this applies to you and you want further information, see the section on obtaining certified copies.

How many duplicates of my deed poll should I order?

We recommend that you order several duplicates of your deed poll, as we do not keep a permanent record of your personal data, and so we cannot re-issue your deed poll if you lose it. (Although note that we do keep a digital fingerprint of your data, so we can authenticate any deed poll that we have issued, if requested — see our privacy policy for more information.)

When you come to having your records updated, many record holders will insist on seeing an original deed poll. Ordering several duplicate originals therefore lets you notify several record holders at once — having only one copy of the deed poll will slow down the process considerably. Exactly how many duplicates you should order depends on how quickly you want to have your records updated.

Note that each duplicate is an original document and must be executed in the same way and at the same time. Once your deed poll has been executed (signed in front of a witness), if you want a copy of it you will have to get a certified copy from a magistrate or a Commissioner for Oaths, which is normally more expensive.

How do I get certified copies of a previously issued deed poll?

A certified copy is a photocopy of an original document that has an endorsement on it stating that it is a true copy of the original.

We do not provide a certified copy service. However you can easily obtain a certified copy from someone who does — a certified copy does not have to be issued by whoever issued the original document. A certified copy does not certify that the original document is genuine, only that it is a true copy of the original.

In fact there is no law which governs who can issue a certified copy — ultimately it is the decision of the body you submit it to as to whether they will accept it. Bodies may also have different rules for different types of document.

HM Passport Office (and many other bodies) will only accept a certified copy of a deed poll if it has been issued by:

  • a solicitor;
  • a notary public;
  • any Commissioner for Oaths; or
  • a Justice of the Peace (that is, a magistrate)

The statutory fee for a certified copy from a Commisioner for Oaths is currently set at £ 5 by the Commissioners for Oaths (Fees) Order 1993 ↗. All solicitors and notaries public (but not magistrates) are Commisioners for Oaths automatically. However, when using a solicitor or notary public, you should check what fee you will be charged beforehand — you may be charged for other ancillary services.

The statutory fee for a certified copy from a magistrate's court is currently set at £ 25 by the Magistrates' Courts Fees (Amendment No. 2) Order 2010 ↗.

Some bodies may accept a certified copy from the Post Office, but you should check first whether this will be acceptable. The Post Office currently charges £ 7.15 to certify up to 3 documents with their Identity Checking Service ↗. You should check whether your local branch offers the service ↗ before visiting, and you should bring your own photocopies with you.

If you want to find solicitor or notary public in your area, you can contact the relevant society or faculty office:

Who can act as a witness when I execute (sign) my deed poll?

If you are a British national living in the U.K., Isle of Man, or Bailiwick of Guernsey, your witness needs to be someone who:

  • is aged 18 years or more and is resident in the U.K.
  • knows who you are
  • is independent from you — that is, they should not be a relative or your partner, or someone you live with
  • has mental capacity — that is, they must be able to make decisions for themself without being affected by any impairment or disturbance of the mind, whether permanent or temporary
  • can be physically present to watch you sign the deed poll

Apart from these conditions, your witness could be anyone — a friend, neighbour, or colleague, for example.

If you are a British national living abroad or in the Bailiwick of Jersey, or if you need to have your deed poll legalised, your deed poll should be witnessed by a solicitor or notary public.

If you are a foreign national, you should check with your Embassy or High Commission in the U.K. to see what requirements there may be for a deed poll to be accepted by your country of origin.

When do I need to have my deed poll witnessed by a solicitor?

You need to have your deed poll witnessed by a solicitor or a notary public if:

  • you are a British national living abroad
  • you are a British national living in the Bailiwick of Jersey
  • you are a foreign national (although you should check with your local Embassy what requirements there are in your country of origin)
  • you need to have your deed poll legalised, for example if you are getting married abroad

A solicitor will charge you a fee for this service — the fee is generally between £ 5 and £ 10, although you should check first what it will be. A notary public will generally charge more.

If you want to find solicitor or notary public in your area, you can contact the relevant society or faculty office:

When do I need to have my deed poll legalised?

Legalisation is required when documents have to be used and recognised abroad. The most common cases where deed polls have to be legalised are:

  • if you are getting married abroad
  • if you are a foreign national living in the U.K., and you want to change the name in your foreign passport

If either of these cases applies to you, you should find out first whether or not the country where you will use the deed poll needs you to legalise your documents — and what their exact requirements are.

Legalisation can only be carried out by the Foreign Office. If a document has been legalised, it means that the Foreign Office have confirmed the signature on the document to be genuine — in which case they will attach an apostille to the document.

The Foreign Office can only confirm the signature of a U.K. solicitor or notary public with a current practising certificate, so a solicitor or notary public must either act as your witness, or else (if you have already executed your deed poll) they must certify your deed poll.

The witnessing or certification must satisfy the following requirements:

  • If the solicitor or notary public does not witness the deed poll themself, they should write somewhere on the deed poll, "I have no reason to doubt the authenticity of this document" (or something similar)
  • They should use their personal signature, not the company signature
  • They should clearly print their name and their firm's name under the signature
  • If they do not witness the deed poll themself, they should print the date of certification
  • If applying a notarial certificate to a deed poll, there must be a detailed specific reference to the deed poll behind it. The deed poll must be attached to the notarial certificate.
  • If a notary public from England, Wales or Northern Ireland signs a deed poll for legalisation, they must also stamp or emboss the deed poll with their notarial seal. A notary public from Scotland may also use their notarial seal, but they are not required to do so for the purposes of legalisation.

You should also read the Foreign Office's instructions on how to apply for legalisation ↗. (Note that they refer to a deed poll as a change of name deed.)

If you want to find solicitor or notary public in your area, you can contact the relevant society or faculty office:

Will HM Passport Office accept my deed poll?

Yes, your deed poll will be accepted by HM Passport Office. However, note that your passport application will be rejected if:

Note that if you live in Jersey, the Jersey Passport Office requires deed polls to be witnessed by a solicitor or notary public.

If you are a British national living abroad, or you are a foreign national, you should read our advice on nationality restrictions.

Can I use my deed poll abroad?

Yes, it’s possible (and sometimes necessary) to use your deed poll as proof of your change of name outside the U.K., but you’ll probably need to have it witnessed by a solicitor. You may also need to have it legalised (which means having an apostille attached to it). Whether or not you need to have this done is a question for the organisation or authority that you want to show the deed poll to.

However, you can’t use your deed poll as an international identity document — a deed poll is not proof of identity. When you go through border control, you need to have a valid passport in your current name. In fact it’s important that all your tickets, visas, travel insurance, and so on are all in the same name as what’s in your passport — or else you may have difficulties being allowed through border control and customs.

Do I need to take my deed poll when I go abroad?

No, not unless you have a specific need to prove a change of name that happened in the past, e.g. if you want to get married outside the U.K.

Otherwise, you just need to make sure you have a valid passport in your current name, and that all your tickets, visas, travel insurance, etc. are all in the same name as what’s in your passport.

I don't hold a current U.K. passport — do I need to order a new passport in my new name?

No, there is no obligation to hold a U.K. passport. However, it is a very effective identity document, because HM Passport Office are known for carrying out very stringent checks on your identity, and (for child applications) whether you have obtained consent from everyone with parental responsibility.

Will my new passport mention my old name?

No, not normally. However, there are some limited circumstances in which they will record both your current name, and your previous name:

Can you prepare a "family" deed poll?

No. By family deed poll we take to mean a single deed poll changing the surname of a whole family. We do not think family deed polls are a good idea because eventually — when children grow up and become adults — they need their own deed poll document whenever they need to prove their identity.

However there are reduced rates for family members who apply at the same time. The reduction on additional adult deed polls (when applying online) is from £ 14.00 to £ 9.00. The reduction on additional child deed polls is from £ 14.00 to £ 6.00. The reduction is calculated so as to give the lowest possible combined price.

Can I change my name if I am an undischarged bankrupt or subject to a Debt Relief Order?

Yes, 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.

Can I change my name if there are criminal proceedings against me?

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

Can I change my name if I have a criminal record?

Yes, 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.

Can I change my name by deed poll if I was born in Scotland?

Yes, a deed poll is a valid way to change your name in Scotland — as much as it is in England & Wales, and it will be accepted by all organisations and government bodies.

There are some differences in Scottish law about parental responsibility that apply to children who were born in Scotland, and to some extent to children who live in Scotland. There are also differences between other regions of the U.K., and you should the read the section on how to change your child's name for complete information.

People who were born in Scotland also have the option to change their name on their birth certificate. There are some limitations to this service, and there are both advantages and disadvantages to changing your name in this way. Note that it does not affect your right to change your name by deed poll instead, and many people choose to change their name by deed poll anyway.

Can I change my name by deed poll if I am a British national living abroad?

Yes, but 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 is more information in the section for British nationals who live abroad.

Can I change my name by deed poll if I am not British, but I live in the U.K.?

Maybe.

If you are a foreign national living in the U.K., you should check with your local Embassy in the U.K. to see if your country of origin will accept a deed poll.

If you are an immigrant to the U.K. and you don't want to retain your existing nationality, then the U.K. Border Agency will accept your deed poll.

Can I change the name on my birth certificate?

If your birth was registered in England or Wales, there are some limited circumstances when your birth certificate can be changed. However, generally speaking a birth registration is considered a matter of fact — that is, it was correct at the time it was made — and it cannot be changed.

If your birth was registered in Scotland you do have the option to change your name on your birth certificate. There are some limitations to this service, and there are both advantages and disadvantages to changing your name in this way. However, it does not affect your right to change your name by deed poll instead, and many people choose to change their name by deed poll anyway.

Can I change the name on other certificates or legal documents?

No, a certificate is generally considered a matter of fact — that is, it was correct at the time it was issued — and it cannot normally be changed. If you need to show evidence of a qualification or award and your certificate is in your old name, you should present it with your deed poll or some other evidence of your previous name (for example, your old passport).

Do I need a deed poll to revert to my birth name?

Yes, if you have changed your name in the past, and you want to revert to the original name on your birth certificate, you will need a deed poll to prove it. Your current legal name is not the name on your birth certificate, and if you want to revert to your old name you need documentary evidence of the fact that you have changed it back — the birth certificate itself is not enough.

What order should I tell organisations about my name? — Who should I tell first?

It depends — there is no legal obligation to tell any organisation before or after any other, so you should do it in the order which best suits your situation.

In general, if you already hold a valid U.K. passport, there is an advantage in renewing your passport first, because you can also use the passport as evidence of your name change.

Some organisations — notably the General Medical Council (if you are a doctor listed on the Medical Register), and some financial institutions — insist on seeing your updated passport in your new name, or other additional documentary evidence in your new name, before they change their own records. The General Medical Council insist on seeing both your old and new passports.

The DVLA can check your identity directly with HM Passport Office (if you give permission), which means that if you update your passport first, you don't have to send your deed poll or your passport to have your driving licence updated.

If you are changing your child's name, a passport in the child's new name is also evidence that you have obtained consent from everyone with parental responsibility, because HM Passport Office will have carried out the necessary checks that this is the case.

However, there are some cases where you will need to update other documents before your passport, because HM Passport Office (or the Foreign Office, if you live abroad) will require additional documentary evidence in your new name. This is the case if:

Do I have to tell everyone about my new name?

Yes, a deed poll should be used for changing your name for all purposes. You must tell all official record holders, everyone you do business with, and anyone you have a duty or obligation to. If official record holders — such as HM Passport Office — have reason to believe that you are not changing your name for all purposes, they will not accept your deed poll.

However, it is acceptable to carry on using your previous name in a specific context (at work, for example) provided you make it clear, where necessary, that your legal name is something else (and provided of course that it's not for a fraudulent purpose). It's a common practice for married women to keep using their maiden name professionally so they don't affect the reputation they have built up in that name. Other examples are entertainers who use a stage name, or authors who use a pen name.

It is also acceptable not to tell someone of your name if you believe that person will harm or harass you in some way — for example, if you are a victim of bullying or domestic violence. However, you cannot do this in a way so that you gain financially from that person, or to avoid an obligation you owe to that person, as you would then be committing fraud.

Do I have to update my passport in my new name?

No — there is no legal requirement to renew your passport if you change your name. Your passport will remain a valid document, and you can still travel with it. However, if you do decide to travel abroad with your passport (in your former name) then you should take care that all your travel documents (passport, visas, tickets, hotel bookings, etc.) are in the same name, otherwise you may be denied entry onto your aeroplane or through border control.

Bear in mind though, that when you renew your passport, HM Passport Office will “carry over” any remaining time left on it to your new passport, up to a maximum of 9 months. So for example, if you have one year left on your passport and you decide to renew it, your new passport will be valid for 10 years and 9 months.

Do I have to update my driving licence in my new name?

Yes — by law, you have to keep your driving licence up to date, and you must tell the DVLA about any change in your name or address. Failure to do so could leave you with a £ 1000 fine.

Will I have to tell people that I have been known by another name in the past?

Yes, sometimes you'll have to tell people about your former name.

In general, if you deceive someone by hiding your former name, and you stand to gain something from them by doing so (or they may be damaged in some way), you may be committing fraud.

There are three common cases when you must disclose your former name:

  • if you want to apply for credit, you'll have to supply details of any previous names you have been known by in the last 6 years
  • if you are required to apply for a DBS check (formerly a CRB check), you'll have to give every name you have been known by since birth. Knowingly making a false declaration about your previous names for a DBS check is a criminal offence under the Police Act.
  • if you are an undischarged bankrupt or subject to a Debt Relief Order, then you must tell everyone you do business with (directly or indirectly) the name in which you were made bankrupt

The police can ask you for your current name (and address) in certain situations, for example if they arrest you — and you must tell them the truth. You don't have to tell the police about your former name — you have a right to remain silent (but you should get legal advice about whether to use that right or not — it may not be in your best interests).

If you are not hiding your name for a fraudulent purpose, however, there is no obligation to tell people about your former name.

Note that if you are asked about your former name and you lie — for example, you say that you have never changed your name — then you may be committing fraud. If you don't want to reveal your former name then you should simply refuse to answer the question.

Can my employer (or potential employer) ask me about my former name?

Yes, probably. In general, your employer is allowed to ask you about anything which may affect your ability to do your job. They would be entitled to know your former name, for example, to:

  • complete reference checks
  • verify your past employment history
  • verify your your education
  • verify any professional qualifications that you have

You don't have to answer if an employer asks you about your former name, provided there is no fraudulent reason for hiding it. However, you mustn't lie about it — making a false statement to get (or keep) a job would be fraudulent. If you don't want to answer the question you should simply write "not applicable" or politely refuse to answer the question. You could also explain that you think the question is inappropriate because it doesn't have any bearing on your ability to do the job. However, if a potential employer has a legitimate reason to ask you (e.g. to complete reference checks) then it may result in you not getting the job you want.

There is an important exception to this advice: if your job involves working with children or other vulnerable people, you'll normally have to complete a DBS check (formerly a CRB check), in which case you'll have to give every name you have been known by since birth.

Can I change my name to stop someone finding me?

Yes, provided it is not for a fraudulent purpose — so for example you cannot change your name to get out of paying a debt or to avoid fulfilling an obligation. But, if you are a victim of domestic violence, for example, it is perfectly acceptable to change your name to avoid someone harming or harassing you.

I have applied for a DBS check (formerly called a CRB check) in the past. Do I need to inform the Disclosure and Barring Service about my name change?

No — if you've applied for a DBS check in the past (formerly called a CRB check), you don't need to inform the Disclosure and Barring Service if you change your name. If you need to apply for another DBS check after changing your name, then at that point you will have to provide details of any changes of name.

Will changing my name affect my credit rating?

No — not if you tell all record holders about your new name. When someone needs to run a credit check against you, they should ask you for any previous names that you have been known by in the past 6 years. The credit reference agencies can correlate your credit history from your old and new names.

However, you should make sure that you tell all financial organisations — banks, credit card companies, lenders, etc. — about your change of name. They should inform the credit reference agencies about the change. If your personal information is incorrect or out of date, it could lead to you being unfairly refused credit.

Note that credit reference agencies check your name and address against data from the Electoral Roll — they have access to the full, unedited register. The Electoral Roll is updated every month and you should tell your Local Authority about your change of name straight away so the credit reference agencies also have access to the updated data. Don't just wait until the next election.

If you want to check that credit reference agencies hold your correct personal information, you can write to any of the credit reference agencies and ask for a copy of your statutory credit report (or credit file). You have the right to do this under the Data Protection Act 1998, but you will have to pay a fee of £ 2. If any of your data are incorrect, you also have the right to have them corrected, and the credit reference agency must tell you what correction it has made within 28 days of receiving the information from you.

In your application, you should include:

  • your full name
  • any other names you have been known by in the last 6 years
  • your full address (including postcode)
  • any other addresses you have lived at in the last 6 years
  • your date of birth
  • a cheque or postal order for £ 2 made payable to the credit reference agency

Unless the agency needs more information, they should send you a copy of your file within 7 working days from receiving your letter.

Sometimes the credit reference agencies need more information from you to verify your identity — before they can send you your file. For example, they may need proof of your name and address from a utility bill or bank statement. This is important to make sure that no one else gets your file by mistake or to check that no one else has applied for your credit file fraudulently. They do not have to send you your file until they get this information.

There are 3 credit reference agencies in the U.K.:

Experian

Either order your credit report online ↗, or download the application form ↗ and return it to:

  • Customer Support Centre
  • Experian Ltd
  • P.O. Box 8000
  • Nottingham
  • NG80 7WF

Equifax

Either order your credit report online ↗, or download the application form ↗ and return it to:

  • Customer Service Centre
  • Equifax Ltd
  • P.O. Box 1140
  • Bradford
  • BD1 5US

Callcredit

Either order your credit report online ↗, or download the application form ↗ and return it to:

  • Consumer Services
  • Callcredit Ltd
  • P.O. Box 491
  • Leeds
  • LS3 1WZ

Yes, provided it is not for a fraudulent purpose. In fact, it is quite a common practice — people frequently use a different name in a professional context, such as entertainers who use a stage name, or authors who use a pen name. Another common situation is when a married woman chooses to keep her maiden name for professional use, but change to her husband's name for all other purposes.

I am a sole trader trading in my own name. If I change my name, can I carry on trading in my old name?

Yes, provided it is not for a fraudulent purpose, it is a common practice to do business in a trading name — for example, if a sole trader called John Smith changed his name to Tom Brown, legally the business would become Tom Brown trading as John Smith.

You should make it clear to anyone you do business with what your official name is, or your actions could be construed as fraudulent. A simple footnote on official correspondence stating the proprietor is Tom Brown is normally sufficient.

Can I call myself after a celebrity?

Yes — by itself it is perfectly legitimate to assume the name of someone else, whether famous or not. But you should bear in mind that:

  • if you pass yourself off as another person in order to deceive someone for a financial gain, or to damage them in some way, you would be committing fraud
  • if your new name is trademarked, and you sell a product or service similar to the person (or company) that owns the trademark, you will be in breach of the trademark

Note that fraud is a crime, and thus it is much more serious than a breach of trademark.

Can I call myself after a trademark?

Technically, yes — you can. Changing your name to a trademark such as Tesco is not itself a breach of the trademark, and it is not illegal. However, if you use the name for commercial gain by selling a product or service similar to the trademark holder then you will breach the trademark.

Note that if you apply for a passport, HM Passport Office will require that you obtain written consent from the trademark holder, or else they will not accept the change of name. However, if the name is also recognised as a normal name, for example Paul Smith or John Lewis, then this rule does not apply — you do not need any consent from the trademark holder.

For more information see the section about trademarked names.

Can I call myself with a phrase or saying?

Yes, there is no law restricting you from calling yourself a phrase or saying that is not normally considered a name, such as Happy Birthday, or See You Later. However, if you apply for a passport, HM Passport Office will reject your application unless you can prove you intend to use the name for all purposes, by providing additional documentary evidence. See the section on unusual or frivolous name changes for more details.

Can I call myself with a political statement?

Maybe. You should be aware that:

  • it is illegal to change your name to anything that promotes racial or religious hatred, derides minority groups, or promotes the use of drugs. We will refuse any application of this kind.
  • if your name is vulgar, offensive, or blasphemous, you will not be able to renew your passport in your new name — HM Passport Office will refuse your application
  • if you apply for a passport, HM Passport Office will treat your name as a phrase not normally considered to be a name, and they will reject your application unless you can prove you intend to use the name for all purposes, by providing additional documentary evidence. See the section on unusual or frivolous name changes for more details.
  • we reserve the right to refuse any child application, if we believe the name is demeaning to the child concerned

Can I call myself something vulgar or offensive?

Not really. It may not be illegal to call yourself something vulgar or offensive, but if you apply for a passport, HM Passport Office will reject your application. Other record holders are likely do the same. If you cannot have all your documents updated in your new name, then effectively you have not changed your name — your name is legally established by usage. For more information, see the section on vulgar, offensive, or blasphemous names.

Note that it is illegal to change your name to anything that promotes racial or religious hatred, derides minority groups, or promotes the use of drugs. We will refuse any application of this kind.

Can I use a single name?

Yes, there is no law preventing you from being known by a single name, or mononym — that is, a surname only, with no forenames — and HM Passport Office should accept such a name. For more details, see the section on single names.

Can I change my name for a bet?

Yes, you can have any reason you like to change your name (so long as it is not fraudulent). However, a deed poll should be used for changing your name for all purposes. If official record holders — such as HM Passport Office — have reason to believe that you are not changing your name for all purposes, they will not accept your deed poll unless you provide additional documentary evidence that shows otherwise. See the section on unusual or frivolous name changes for more details.

Note that HM Passport Office also watches for "linked applications" — where a group of people have changed their name at the same time for a bet (or another frivolous pupose).

Can I prepare my own deed poll?

There is no law which states that a deed poll must be drawn up by a solicitor, in the same way that it's possible to draw up certain other legal documents on your own, such as wills. We justify our fee with the quality of the service we provide and the care we take over it, and not by misleading you to believe that you don't have a choice.

Drawing up your own deed poll is like baking your own bread — if you have the time and the motivation to do it yourself, it may well be a more satisfying and enjoyable experience for you. It will cost you less money, but it will also take up more of your time. If you want to go down the path of researching what you have to do and understanding how the process works, we encourage you to do it. You may even like to make use of our free deed poll service ↗ to help you draw up your document.

Paying to have us prepare your deed poll for you is like buying your bread from a good bakery — you have to pay, but it won't take up any of your time, and you'll have the confidence that it's done properly. People are less likely to doubt whether it has been drawn up correctly, because they will have the confidence of knowing that it's been done by a reputable company.

You should bear in mind that few people understand what a deed poll is, and even fewer (even within official bodies) understand whether it has been drawn up and executed in the right way. We are prepared if necessary to guarantee and to justify that any deed poll we have issued has been drawn up correctly and according to the law. If any record holder is in any doubt about your deed poll, we will help you, and you are free to refer them to us — this is part of our service.

Our service also includes advising you on any particular conditions that will apply to your situation — for example, whether or not your deed poll needs to be witnessed by a solicitor, who you need to advise about your change of name (and in what order), and (in the case of children) who needs to give their consent to the change of name.

Can I search your records for genealogical purposes?

No, the deed polls we issue are private documents, and they are not available for public inspection. In fact, we do not keep permanent records of the personal data on the deed polls we issue — we keep only a digital fingerprint of the data, such that we can authenticate any deed poll that we have issued, if requested. (For further information about how we store personal data, see our privacy policy.)

If you are searching for historical evidence of a change of name, there are several sources where you can look for records, but note that you may simply find that no record exists. There has never been a legal obligation to register a change of name with any official body, and although it is possible to enrol a deed poll with the Supreme Court of Judicature, very few deed polls are registered in this way.

For further details of sources where you can search for other forms of evidence, have a look at our guide to researching changes of name.