About Changing a Child’s Surname
A child’s name and surname are part of the official birth registration. The official birth registration is considered as a historical record which contains details of the events as they transpired on the date that the registration was accomplished.
Consequently, changing this historical record is allowable only under certain conditions and there are strict requirements regarding these circumstances.
Circumstances to Change a Child’s Surname
To correct errors in spelling
Changing a child’s surname in the original record of birth can only be done for purposes of correcting spelling errors. Should a correction be necessary, then the person who registered the birth must provide proof that an error does in fact exist.
This procedure will depend on and when this correction is requested.
If the request is made within a few weeks from registration, then this can be done by sending a letter to the original Register Office requesting the correction along with the circumstances under which the error was made. The person requesting must provide a reasonable explanation of why the errors were made in the first place.
If a longer period has passed before the request is made, then in addition to the requirements above, documentary proof must be included to prove that the child is being raised with the name different from that recorded in the birth registration. This proof, which can be an NHS medical card, bank book or other similar documents, should be submitted along with the request letter, to the Registrar Generals office and will be subject to their consideration.
Other cases of surname change can be done only through a re-registration process
Two Circumstances of Re-registration
- To enter into the record the natural fathers details
- To reflect the marriage of the parents if they were not married at the time of birth
In these cases, the child can undergo a re-registration where the child’s surname can be changed to either the father’s, the mother’s or a combination of both. Both parents should be in agreement with this change.
If the child’s age is 16 years or over, then the change can only be done with the child’s consent.
In relation to the above, a child aged 16 and over can request a change in surname without parental consent. While a parent can express their opposition to such a move by the child, the court is likely to allow the change as it will hold that the child is competent and mature enough to make such decisions.
Procedures Involved. There are three distinct situations that call for different procedures:
- Parents were unmarried at the time of birth but got married since.
If at the time of birth the parents were unmarried but have married each other since, the birth must be re-registered to reflect accurately the current legal status of the child. There is a form in the Register Office that has to be signed by both parents. Then either parent can proceed with the form and a copy of the marriage certificate to submit to the Register Office. After this, the birth will be re-registered with the surname change. Shortly thereafter, certified copies of the new birth record can be obtained from the registrar for a nominal fee.
- Parents were unmarried at the time of birth and the details of the father were not registered
At the time of birth, the parents were not married and the father was unable to register his details in the birth record. In this case, the father’s details can be included and have the birth re-registered and change the child’s surname in the process. This process can be requested at any time. The preferred procedure is for both parents to attend the Register office to request for the re-registration.
In cases where one parent cannot attend, then they can make a statutory declaration acknowledging their parentage, before persons with the legal authority to witness an oath.
Either parent can also request a court order naming the father. In all the cases above, the birth will be re-registered and certified copies of the new birth registration
- Parents were not married at the time of birth and fathers name was given to the child
If at the time of birth, the parents were not married and the father’s surname was given to the child then, then regardless of whether he attended or not with the mother, the surname cannot be changed to that of the mother. In this case, the only recourse would be to hold a consultation with a solicitor in order to create a statutory declaration or deed poll changing the child’s surname.
It must be noted that this will not alter the original registration of birth. The birth registration shall have the statutory declaration or deed poll attached to it. This would then serve as proof that the child is being raised with a surname different from the one recorded in the original birth registration.
What is a Statutory Declaration or Deed Poll
A statutory declaration or deed poll is simply documents where the person accomplishing the documents swears under oath certain circumstances. In the case of the surname or name change of a child, it is simply a document, subscribed and sworn to under oath, where the previous surname and the new name that will be used from that date onwards will be indicated. This document shall then be attached the original birth registration.
Other Special Circumstances
In the event that your child underwent baptism in a Christian church there are additional procedures that need to be performed.
The vicar or minister of the Christian church where the baptism took place has to complete a “Certificate Of Name Given In Baptism” form.
Otherwise, you would need to accomplish a “Certificate Of Name Not Given In Baptism” form.
The relevant forms should be sent to the original Register Office. Should you be living in an area other than the original area where the birth was registered, the papers should be posted to the relevant Register Office.