Changing your name, by marriage, civil partnership, deed poll or after divorce – can be expensive and onerous. Here’s how to avoid the pitfalls and keep costs down:
Changing your name after marriage or a civil partnership
Your marriage or civil partnership certificate does not in any way indicate the surname you’ll have after the ceremony, yet you can use it to prove you have changed your name.
To change your surname to your spouse or civil partner’s surname (or to double-barrel your joint surnames) on your passport or driving licence you need to fill in the relevant forms requesting the change and present your marriage certificate.
Financial institutions, such as banks and building societies – should also accept your marriage certificate as proof you have taken your partner’s surname if you are a married woman or civil partner.
This is not always the case if you are a married man taking your wife’s surname or if you are double-barrelling or meshing your surnames. If one of these situations applies to you, you may prefer to change your name by deed poll (which should always be acceptable proof).
A “change of name deed poll” is simply a document that contains the following three declarations:
• I am abandoning my previous name.
• I will use my new name at all times.
• I require all persons to address me by my new name only.
You must sign and date this declaration in both your old and your new name. Your new name must contain both a forename and a surname and be pronounceable, as well complying with other common sense restrictions specified by the Home Office. Two witnesses, who aren’t related to you, must also sign your deed poll and give their name, occupations and addresses.
The biggest agencies charge about £35, although the UK Deed Poll Office and the Legal Deed Poll Service charge less than £15, and you can get a free template from Free UK Deed Poll, which is accepted by the DVLA, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest, the Co-operative Bank, First Direct, HSBC, CallCredit and Nationwide.
If you go for the DIY option, create the declaration then print off a few copies on good quality paper or parchment paper and get them witnessed and signed. Present this document to all relevant government authorities and financial institutions as you would a marriage certificate.
For extra security, you can get your deed poll witnessed in front of a solicitor for a set “oath fee” of £5.
If you are changing your child’s name by deed poll it is more complex, so it may be worth going to a specialist agency or lawyer. If you want to do it yourself, everyone who has legal responsibility for the child should give their consent to the change in an accompanying letter, and if the child is aged 16 or 17 he or she should also give consent. To change a child’s forename before their first birthday you must apply to the General Register Office.
For more information, consult your local Citizens Advice bureau.
Changing your name after divorce
All you need to revert your ID and bank accounts back to your maiden name after you divorce is your decree absolute and your marriage certificate. Alternatively, you can change your name by deed poll and present this document instead.
Cut your costs
To change the name on your passport, you have to renew it, which costs £72.50. However, it is legal for you to use a passport in your previous name until it expires. Just remember the name on any airline tickets must match the name on your passport or you may not be allowed to travel.
By contrast, you must immediately change your name on your driving licence – which costs nothing using form D1 – and you can be fined up to £100 if you fail to notify the DVLA of a name change.
It’s also important to update your details (for free) on the electoral roll or you may be turned down for credit in your new name. Use the voter registration form.
Be wary of any company which offers to change your name for a fee. For example, if you own a property, many solicitors will try to charge you to register a name change at the Land Registry, but you can do it yourself for nothing.
Similarly, it shouldn’t cost you a penny to notify banks, doctors, dentists, employers, nurseries, schools, HMRC, insurance companies, TV licensing, local councils, PayPal, utility companies, loyalty card schemes and the police (if you have a criminal record).
When you send your original documents in the post, obtain a free certificate of posting from the post office, as then you are entitled to claim up to £46 compensation in case it is mislaid in transit. It costs £9.25 to replace a marriage or civil partnership certificate (although extra copies usually cost less if you request them at the ceremony).
Cheques in your old name
If you receive a cheque made out to your previous name, most banks will let you cash it as long as you present it with documentation proving you used to hold that name.
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