How to Change Your Name After a Divorce in the UK

If you’ve recently been through a divorce or separation, you might have some questions about how to change your last name back to your maiden name.

You might have questions about the process of changing your name, about updating official documents, how a name change might affect travel plans, among others.

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In this in-depth guide, we will cover everything you need to know about changing your name after a divorce or separation in the UK.

We’ll take a look at the name change process, the documents required, and also answer some of the most common questions about changing your name.

Should I change my last name after a divorce?

Before we delve into the process of changing your name, let’s talk about if you should change your name in the first place.

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to your choice in either keeping your married name or reverting to your maiden name after a divorce or separation.

It is a deeply personal choice, and what feels right for you might vary based on things like the circumstances of your separation, your ongoing relationship with your ex, and if you have kids, how they would feel about your new name, and many more.

Here are just a few of the basic things to consider before you decide to either keep your current name or go back to using your birth name.

A fresh start

Sometimes, divorce can be a traumatic experience. It can be hard to let go of a relationship that you’ve invested so much of yourself into.

But along with that, also comes the opportunity for new beginnings. Opportunities to reclaim who you are, pursue new dreams, and conquer new challenges.

And a new name (although it’s most likely your maiden name) can symbolize a fresh start, the fact that you’re officially letting go of the past.

Official documents

You may want to go back to using your maiden name on your official documents after your divorce. For example, your driver’s license, passport, property deeds, etc.

If you want to change your name on your documents, you will have to change your name officially. We will discuss the process for a few of these documents below.

Passport and travel

If you want to book future international travel under your maiden name, you’ll have to update your name on your passport, which will require you to prove that you’ve officially changed your name.

Dating and new relationships

Eventually (or maybe right away!), you’ll want to start dating again. Some people feel a greater sense of freedom with their pre-marriage names when pursuing relationships.

How do I change my name after a divorce?

Assuming you do want to change your name, the process and the requirements will vary somewhat based on your specific circumstance. In this section, we’ll break down the requirements for a name change for some of the most common situations after a divorce or separation.

Most likely, the first thing you’ll want to do is to change your name on your driver’s license and your bank statement. We’ll provide more details for both below, but first, let’s look at what you’ll need to update your name in your official documents.

You want to revert to your maiden name

If you took your spouse’s last name after marriage, and all you want to do is revert to your birth name, here is what you will need.

Assuming that the following is true:

●       Your marriage took place in the UK

●       Your divorce has been finalized in the UK

You will need the following to change your name officially:

●       Your original marriage certificate

●       Your original birth certificate

●       A signed statement declaring that you’re switching back to your birth name for all purposes

●       Your decree absolute

What is a decree absolute, and how do I apply for one?

Decree absolute is a court-issued document that makes the divorce official. Among other things, it gives you the right to remarry in the future.

But before you can apply for a decree absolute, you’ll need a decree nisi. The decree nisi is a document that is issued once a judge approves your divorce under UK law. Here is more information from the UK government website about how to obtain a decree nisi.

After you obtain your decree nisi, you’ll need to wait at least 43 days to apply for the decree absolute.

Here’s more information about applying for a decree absolute to make your divorce final so that you can move forward with the name change process.

If you’re missing any of the required documents

If you’re missing any of the required documents, like your decree absolute, marriage certificate, or your birth certificate, you have a couple of options.

You can apply for copies of the missing documents, or you can simply get a deed poll. Let’s examine both options so you can decide which one suits you better.

Option 1 - Apply for copies for missing documents

Here’s how you can apply for copies of the following documents.

Missing decree absolute

If you’re missing your decree absolute, you can get a copy from the court that issued the original one.

You can find your court’s contact details for England/Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland.

For decree absolutes issued in England/Wales, a copy costs £5 if you have the case number. If you don’t have the case number and the court has to look it up, the copy of the decree absolute will cost you £40.

And if you’ve forgotten the court that issued your original decree absolute, you’re still not out of luck. You can request the Principal Registry of the Family Division to look it up.

Fill out the form D440: Request for Search for Decree Absolute, and send it to the following address, along with a payment of £60.

Principal Registry of the Family Division

First Avenue House 42-49 High Holborn

LONDON

WC1V 6NP

Tel: 020 7421 8509 (Enquiries)

Missing marriage/birth certificate

You can contact the General Register Office to replace marriage and birth certificates. You can apply online, and each certificate will cost £9.25.

Option 2 - Get a deed poll

If you’re missing any of the required documents to change your name, and you don’t feel like applying for copies of your birth certificate, marriage certificate, or decree absolute, you could simplify the process significantly by getting a deed poll.

What is a deed poll?

In the UK, you’re allowed to change your name for any reason you wish legally. A deed poll is a document that makes your new name official.

So, if you’ve recently been divorced, and you’re missing a document required to change your name, you can simply get a deed poll to make your name change official.

A deed poll demonstrates the following information:

●       You have chosen a new name (which could be your maiden name or any other name you wish)

●       You have given up your old name (in this case your married name)

●       The date you start using your new name.

How do I get a deed poll?

Although accepted as an official document everywhere in the UK, there isn’t a government office where you can get a deed poll.

You have to either hire a solicitor to apply for a deed poll, or you can check out our fast, easy, and secure deed poll application process.

You want to change to a name different than your maiden name

If you want to change to a name different than your maiden name, you will need a deed poll.

Presumably, none of your documents (marriage certificate, decree absolute, birth certificate) will display the name you wish to change to, and you’ll have to make your name change official with a deed poll.

Once you have the deed poll, you can use that as evidence of your new name to update various official documents.

Your documents are not in English

If you’re a UK national, but you are/were living abroad, and either your marriage or divorce wasn’t finalized in the UK and one of your documents isn’t in English, you again have a couple of options.

You can get your documents translated to English by an accredited translator so UK government officials can accept them. Obtaining translations can often be quite expensive and involve a cumbersome process.

Alternatively, you can get a deed poll to simplify the process and not have to go through the process of translation, either for your marriage certificate or divorce documents.

You only need to change your title

If all you want to do is change your title, e.g., from Mrs. back to Ms., then you don’t need a deed poll or any official name change process.

You can simply start using your preferred title. Some official documents, like your passport, don’t even state your title.

You’re not a UK citizen, but a resident of the UK

If you’re a UK resident, and your marriage and divorce both took place in the UK, the same procedure applies to you for changing your name after a divorce.

But if your birth certificate is not in English, you would need to get it translated by an accredited translator.

You could also get a deed poll to simplify the process, but you should check with the embassy of your country of citizenship if they will accept a deed poll to issue a passport under your new name.

How to change my name if my divorce hasn’t been finalized?

If you’re currently separated, but your divorce hasn’t been finalized, and you want to change your name right away, you will need to use a deed poll.

You’ll need a deed poll because you won’t get the decree absolute, which is one of the documents necessary to change your name, till your divorce is finalized.

How much does it cost to change my name after a divorce in the UK?

There can be various costs involved with changing your name depending on your desired new name and the documents you’ll need to obtain.

If you’re reverting to your maiden name, and you have all the required documents, then your costs will be relatively low. For example, you may only need to pay the fee for updating your passport (usually less than £100).

It does not cost anything to change your name on your driver’s license.

If you happen to be missing any documents, then you might have additional costs of applying for copies, as we explained above. If you need to have any documents translated, that will cost extra as well.

Remember, if you’re missing any documents, or if any of your documents are not in English, you can always simplify the process with secure and easy deed poll application, which only costs £18.50.

How do I change my name on my UK passport after a divorce?

Typically, you don’t need a deed poll to change your name on your passport after a divorce. You’ll only need a deed poll if your divorce isn’t yet finalized, or if you’re missing any documents and you don’t want to apply for copies, have them translated etc.

You’ll have to contact Her Majesty’s Passport Office to update your name. Here is their contact info:

Her Majesty's Passport Office

PO Box 767

Southport

PR8 9PW

Tel: 0300 222 0000

 How do I change my name on my bank account after a divorce?

Typically, the process is quite simple. You just need to visit a branch with evidence of your name change.

Most banks accept official documents with your new name, like a deed poll, decree absolute, driver’s license, passport, etc.

To make sure you bring all the required documents, you might want to call your bank and ask what is necessary for your specific bank.

How do I change my name on my driving license after a divorce?

It doesn’t cost anything to update your name on your driver’s license after a divorce or separation. You simply need to apply with the DVLA with all the required documents.

For detailed information on the process, check out our article on changing your name on your driver’s license.

Changing Name After Divorce Checklist

Legally changing your name after divorce is an opportunity for a complete makeover and starting afresh

But sometimes reverting to the maiden name can be inconvenient and many people decide to keep their married name instead. 

If you’re considering a name change after divorce, here’s everything you need to know.

Should You Change Your Name After Divorce?

Every divorce is different and there is no right or wrong answer to whether you should keep your married name or revert to your maiden name. The main advantage of changing your name after divorce is establishing a complete break from your former spouse. Once you revert to your birth name, you are no longer connected to your ex-husband legally, financially, or emotionally. 

At the same time, there are many reasons why you may want to keep your married name after divorce: 

  • You have used your current last name for years and other people know you only by your married name. In this case, it can make more sense not to change your name after the divorce. 
  • You work as a lawyer or a doctor or have a large network. Keeping your married name by which you are known to your clients or patients will ensure that your professional identity remains consistent. 
  • You find your married name more convenient to use than your maiden name because it is shorter or easier to pronounce.
  • You have a stronger personal attachment to your married name than to your maiden name. If you were glad to have the opportunity to change your last name when you got married, then changing it back might not be a good option for you.
  • You want to have the same last name as your children, especially if they are young. 
  • You don’t want to deal with all the hassle of changing your last name on official records.

Some people choose not to revert to their maiden name, but take a different last name to mark their new identity. 

Changing Name After Divorce Checklist

The legal aspect of changing your last name after divorce is easy—you can simply go back to using your previous name. However, the administrative part where you must officially record the change with different companies and government bodies is more complicated and time consuming. 

However, there are some steps you can take to make changing your last name after divorce easier. Start by making a list of everyone you should contact with the update of your name change. To make the transition smoother, start using your new name as soon as possible and introduce yourself that way to others as well.

Documents needed to change your name after divorce

cognized document. This can be either a decree absolute (divorce certificate) or a deed poll, an official document that legalizes your name change. 

If your divorce certificate indicates both your married name and your maiden name and clearly shows the link between the two, it is usually sufficient evidence of a name change. Otherwise, if you wish to change your name after divorce, you need to present the following documents:

  • The decree absolute
  • The original birth certificate
  • The original marriage certificate, and
  • A signed statement confirming that you have reverted to your maiden name for all purposes

You need to take with you a copy of these documents to the relevant institutions and inform them that you are reverting to your maiden name. Many companies require original documents, so having multiple copies will enable you to submit several name change requests simultaneously. 

Do I need a deed poll to change my name after divorce?

Once you’ve obtained a decree absolute and have all the documents mentioned above, you won’t need a deed poll to revert to your maiden name in your official records. 

Furthermore, you don’t need a deed poll if you wish to revert to Miss or Ms titles without changing your name, since your title is not used as evidence of your identity.

List of institutions that you want to change your name with

There is no legal requirement to update your documents and records to reflect your name change in the UK. However, there are a few exceptions. The following documents must be kept up-to-date with your current name:

  • Your driver’s license
  • Your passport
  • The biometric residence card for non-EEA nationals
  • The company’s register of directors for directors of a UK company.

The organizations and individuals you should inform about your name change typically include:

  • Your friends and family
  • Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)
  • HM Passport Office
  • Current employer
  • Pension Service
  • Inland Revenue (HMRC) to update your income tax, tax credits, and National Insurance
  • The local council for council tax, electoral registration office, housing benefit, and social services
  • Finances (bank account, mortgage, loans, debit and credit cards, investment accounts, PayPal)
  • Insurance (home, contents, auto, health, life, travel)
  • Your landlord
  • Your accountant and solicitor
  • Health (doctor, dentist, specialists, European Health Insurance Card)
  • Utility companies (water, electricity, gas)
  • Communications (phone, mobile phone, internet, pay TV, TV licensing)
  • Memberships (travel rewards, loyalty, store cards, professional, sports)
  • Trade unions, clubs, societies, and associations
  • Local library services and subscriptions
  • Online (Facebook, Linkedin, eBay, Amazon, Google).

Lost Decree Absolute

Marriage in the UK is dissolved when the court issues a decree absolute. This document signifies that the marriage has officially ended and that both parties are now allowed to remarry. A decree absolute entitles a woman to revert to her maiden name and is accepted as a legal document by all government bodies and companies across the country. 

If you have lost your decree absolute, you can easily order a new copy from HM Courts & Tribunal Services by email or mail. You can find the contact information of all the courts and tribunals in England and Wales on the UK government website. The application fee is £10.

You will be asked to provide your case number and the name of the court that originally issued your decree absolute. There are additional costs if you don’t know your case number or the name of the court—you’ll have to pay £45 to search for the case number and £65 to search for the court.

Northern Ireland and Scotland

If you live in Northern Ireland or Scotland, you can contact the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals or the Scottish Courts and Tribunals for corresponding services. 

A copy of a decree absolute that was issued in Northern Ireland will cost £10 if you know the case number, otherwise, you will have to pay an additional £20 to do a search. 

For a decree absolute issued in Scotland, you will have to pay £21 for a copy of the divorce decree, including the search fee. 

Lost Birth Certificate or Marriage Certificate

If you have lost your birth certificate or marriage certificate, you can get a replacement from the General Register Office (GRO). You can register and order a copy of your certificate either online or by writing to:

General Register Office

PO Box 2

Southport

PR8 2JD 

The service costs £9.25 per certificate. Note that all births and marriages registered in England or Wales have a GRO index reference number. If you don’t have this number, you will have to pay an additional £3 for the search. You can obtain your certificate the next day if you choose the priority service which costs £35. 

Northern Ireland and Scotland

There are slightly different procedures for obtaining copies of birth and marriage certificates in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Changing Your Name Before the Divorce Is Finalized

You don’t have to wait until your divorce is finalized to change your last name. To revert to using your maiden name and update your records before you receive the decree absolute, you can apply for a deed poll with the UK Deed Poll Office and follow our simple procedure.

There are several other cases where you will need to have a deed poll to officially change your name after divorce: 

  • You have got your decree nisi, but you have not yet received your decree absolute.
  • You don’t have a copy of one of the required documents, either birth or marriage certificate. 
  • Your married last name was double-barrelled. In this case, you will have to apply for a deed poll to change your name back to your maiden name.
  • You went through the formal change of name procedure to change from your maiden name to your married name. You will have to go through the same procedure to change your name back.
  • You don’t want to revert to using your maiden name but would like to change your name into a completely different name instead.
  • You would like to combine your married name with your maiden name. 
  • Men can also choose to change their name before a divorce is finalized. A deed poll will be needed for the change to take effect legally.

Final Thoughts

If you decide to change your name after a divorce or separation, it is vital that you update your name on all your official documents, like your passport, driver’s license, bank account, employer, property documents, etc.

As we explained in the article, if you have all your marriage/divorce documents that were issued in the UK, then those documents will be sufficient evidence of your name change.

If you’re missing documents, or if any of them are not in English, then a deed poll might be a more straightforward option for you.

The UK Deed Poll Office is not a government agency. Our function is purely as a document provider for the self-declaration of an unenrolled deed poll. We are here to assist in your name change journey, as we have done for over 100,000 UK residents.

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