How do you change your name legally in the UK? - Mum's the Boss

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January is a season of many things. For some of us it’s a season of reinvention – New Years Resolutions and goal setting

But January is also well-known as the month of family turmoil, of splits, and divorces.

Either of these things could result in you wanting to change your name – to reinvent yourself and start out anew.

If you are a woman and you have been married, you may have changed your surname already – on marriage and divorce a name change can be built into the legal acknowledgement of your change of marital status.

But what if this is not about marriage? How can you or someone you know change their name for a different reason? You probably have heard that you can change your name by deed poll, but maybe you don’t know exactly what that is or how you go about it

Another thing that people always want to know, is how long does it actually take to change your name and have your new name recognised? The reasons why you’re changing your name might make you curious as to how long it’ll take, or maybe you’ve got something going on that requires this to be done faster. In any case, it’s good to know.

Well, the short version is that legal formalities around a name change will take at least two weeks. But you aren’t here for the short version, so let’s take a look at everything surrounding this. We’ll talk about the two notable exceptions, marriage and divorce, and then we’ll discuss a deed poll.  

Marriage and Divorce

When it comes to marriage, many people choose to take their spouse’s surname, which qualifies as a name change, but the marriage certificate can take the place of a deed poll. If this is the case, your name will be changed as soon as the paperwork regarding the marriage is done, and you have a valid marriage certificate. There are a few more things you’ll need to do too.

Things are similar with a divorce. When you’re divorcing, you could choose to revert back to your maiden name if you’re a woman, for example. This is something that many women opt for in order to start things clean and separate themselves from the marriage completely. If this is the case, you need to instruct your lawyer to include the clause that you would like to go back to your maiden name on your divorce papers. Then, your name will be changed as soon as the divorce proceedings are done.

Deed Poll

When you’re changing your name by deed poll, there are several steps to it and it is not so straightforward. The first step, of course, is to apply for your deed poll documentation. How long this takes depends on you, and you’ve got a few choices. The most expensive one is to go to an office and pay a premium to have things done within an hour or two.

Your best bet would be to apply online. You’ll just fill out an application form, and you will need to have it delivered. This will save you quite a bit and is the option we would recommend. However, this is out of your control, since it’s up to the postal service to take care of it. Most of them don’t take more than a couple of days, so you should be good to go.

There’s one thing that we must mention here. The aforementioned things only apply if you’re applying to change your own name. When you’re changing a child’s name, things are a bit different. First, you’ll need to deliver a letter of consent, that’s signed by everyone who has parental responsibility. As soon as this is done, the process is similar to what we mentioned above.

As soon as you receive your deed poll, you should execute it. This is done by signing it and dating it in front of an independent witness. Not something to worry about, as it’s simple and done in a minute. When this is done, congratulations, you have changed your name. But things don’t end here.

Notifying Record Holders

While applying for the deed poll and executing it could be completed in a couple of days, you also need to notify any and all record holders of your name change. This will get all of your official documents and records, such as your passport and driving license, your bank accounts, your insurance, and medical records, changed to your new name.

How long this takes depends on how many record holders you have to notify, as well as how long it takes you to notify them. And even though you may think that this is completely under your control and you can get things done quickly, that’s not always the case. You could potentially get things done within three weeks, but for most people, it will take between four and eight weeks.

Last but not least, a small note. Even though you do have a deed poll with your new name, your name isn’t considered legally changed until you use that document to get the majority of your documents changed to your new name. Once you do this, though, you’re good to go.