Changing Your Name (Deed Poll)

 Why change your name?

Changing your name seems a pretty drastic step, one that the majority of us may fail to understand. However, if you were either christened with, or due to recent events find yourself with, an unwanted name, then this may be the only course of action. For example, if you were christened Ian Huntley or Myra Hindley, only for two psychopathic killers of the same name to emerge during your lifetime, it would be all too easy to go and alter your surname to avoid any mistaken identity. Think if your name suddenly became associated with an infamous celebrity – would you want that hassle every time you ordered a taxi?

When we hear the names ‘Hugh Cumber’, ‘Randy Gardner’ or ‘Tim Barr’ it could quite conceivable cause us to fall about laughing. However for some unfortunate souls these are the names that they have unwillingly adopted for their entire life, and often the day will come when they are simply fed up of the constant ridicule.

Whether it is due to misfortune, circumstance or just a desire for a change, people in the UK are free to legally change their name at any point in time. This is done through the official document known as a ‘Deed Poll’, which allows the subject the basic human right of altering their name to whatever they choose. This is then widely accepted by all the institutions that matter – banks, local authorities, the DVLA and HMRC.

The action of a Deed Poll is very wide ranging. To many it can be pigeon holed as a document for the most severe of actions. It is often associated with those looking to completely change their name, discarding any names that they previously held. This is definitely one functions of the Deed Poll, however it is not the only purpose that is serves. This is the destination for anyone looking to return to maiden name, double barrel their surname or simply remove an embarrassing middle name from official documents.

What is a Deed Poll?

A Deed Poll is a legal document (sometimes called a change of name deed or deed of change of name) that binds in an individual to the action that they are wishing to undertake. It has several uses, but the most common is granting the official change of name to thousands of people in the UK.

Implications

Once you have made the drastic step of legally changing your name it will have certain legal implications, which you must adhere to. By taking the step of changing via deed poll you must unilaterally renounce any previous titles, never using them in any format. You must also use your new name at all junctures. Although this is hard to police, by continuing to use your previous label, you are setting up a dual identity. In the same vein, you must instruct everyone you know to refer to you by your new name, for the exact same purpose.

Witness

Due to the serious nature of the procedure you are about to undergo, you must have a complicit witness to testify that you are of sound mind and doing this for practical reasons. This witness must fulfil some mandatory requirements such as; 18 years or above, fluent in English and they must be living anywhere besides your home address. In essence this should be a friend, colleague or neighbour that knows you well, and is willing to stand by you in this decision.

How to change your name

Changing your name by Deed Poll used to be a very sincere experience, involving serious amounts of paperwork and then standing in front of an appointed judge. These days however, it is a much more simplified process, the majority of which takes place online. By visiting the appropriate website, you simply set up a user name and password and apply for the relevant forms to be sent to your home address. Once they have arrived, you must fill them out, get them signed by a suitable witness and voila you can begin using your new name.

Changing documents

After the process of actually changing your name through a Deed Poll, you will need to start making to categorical changes to the major documents in your life. The best place to start is with your passport. The easiest way to do this is by contacting HM Passport Office online. You will then need to get all your other records updated including your driving licence and bank accounts.