The Ultimate Deed Poll Guide (Don't Worry It's An Easy Read)

You may have come across the term “deed poll” as you were researching the process of officially changing your name.

There could be a whole bunch of different reasons why you want to change your name. 

Maybe you want a name that helps you fit in more with your peers, or perhaps you want a name that’s a bit more unique.

Or, it could be that you simply don’t like the way your name is spelled.

Whatever the reason might be, the good news is that in the UK, you can legally change your name for pretty much any reason you want. 

And in many instances, you will need a deed poll to do so.

At the UK Deed Poll Office, we have created this guide to help you understand how a deed poll works, if you need a deed poll, and how to get one if you need it. We’ll also answer some of the most frequently asked questions about deed polls.

What is a deed poll?

In the UK, changing your name is a legal matter. 

By law, you establish your new name by usage. That means, legally, you can simply start using your new name. Over time, as you become known by your new name at work, and among your peers, it will replace your old name as your official name.

There is no official government office where you can go and change your name.

But if you want to update your official documents, like your passport, driving license, bank statements, etc., you will need to show evidence of your new name.

This is where a deed poll comes in. It is a kind of an official legal document that acts as evidence that you’ve started using a new name. You can use a deed poll to update your name on important documents like your passport, with your employer for payroll, and other purposes. 

A deed poll demonstrates the following:

  • That you’ve started using a new name
  • That you’ve given up your old name
  • The date you started using your new name

But depending on the reason you wish to change your name, you may not need a deed poll. In the next section, let’s take a look at which situations require a deed poll, and which don’t.

Do I need a deed poll?

Not all name changes are created equal. 

Some people want to change their names after marriage to deepen their connection with their partners. Other people change their names to hide from their previous partners.

Depending on the reason and circumstances of your name change, you may or may not need a deed poll.

For example, If you’ve recently gotten married, and your marriage was finalized in the UK, then your marriage certificate will work as sufficient proof of your new name (that is if you want to take your partner’s name). 

But let’s say you’ve separated from your partner, and your divorce isn’t yet finalized, but you want to switch back to your maiden name. In this case, you’ll need a deed poll.

Or, if you happen to be one of Kanye West’s children (and you’ve moved to the UK for some reason), and you don’t want to be known as North West for the rest of your life, you’ll also need a deed poll. 

Let’s take a look at some of the common name change scenarios that require a deed poll, and some that don’t.

When you don’t need a deed poll

You don’t need a deed poll when there’s another official document that works as evidence of your new name.

Typically, that’s after a marriage or a divorce.

After getting married, you may want to take your partner’s name. In this case, you won’t need a deed poll if the following are true.

  • Your marriage was finalized in the UK, and you have your marriage certificate.
  • The marriage certificate states both your maiden name and your partner’s last name that you’re changing to.

If you’ve lost your marriage certificate, or you want to change your name to something other than your partner’s last name, you may need a deed poll.

For all the details, check out our in-depth guide on changing your name after marriage in the UK.

Now, if you’re getting divorced, and you want to switch back to your maiden name, you may also not need a deed poll, assuming the following are true.

  • Your divorce is finalized 
  • Both your marriage and divorce took place in the UK
  • You have your decree absolute

If you’re separated and waiting for the divorce to be finalized, or one of your certificates are not in English, you may need a deed poll.

We also have an extensive guide on ditching your partner’s name after you split up, and it goes over various scenarios.

When you would need a deed poll 

Now let’s talk about when you do need a deed poll. 

First, you’ll need a deed poll in almost every case when you want to change your name unless it’s after a marriage or divorce.

Maybe you’ve recently been through a gender change, and you want to change your name. Or you want to change your name to move on from a period in your life. Some people also change their names to identify with another culture or religion.

These are only a few examples where a deed poll would do the job.

But there are also instances after a marriage/divorce when a deed poll could come in handy.

Let’s say you’ve lost your marriage certificate. Or you were living in France when you got married, and your certificate is in French. 

You could go through the complicated procedure to replace or translate your marriage certificate. Or, you could get a deed poll, which would be considerably easier and cheaper (more on that below). Problem solved!

Again, our articles on changing your name after marriage or divorce cover all the details. 

Deed poll enrollment

Now that you have a better idea on when you might need a deed poll, let’s delve into the details of how to get one. 

One of the things that may surprise you is that, unlike an official document, you can’t go to a government office to get a deed poll. That’s because the deed poll is sort of a legal document, not an official document issued by the government.

You have a couple of options when it comes to applying for a deed poll.

The first option is to hire a solicitor and have them apply on your behalf. You’d have to pay for the solicitor’s time along with any fees for the deed poll. And a solicitor’s time isn’t cheap.

The second option, which is more likely to be easier and cheaper, is to enroll for a deed poll online, through a government-registered deed poll service like us, UK Deed Poll Office.

Enrolling for a deed poll is an easy 3 step process:

1. Complete the online application

You fill out our easy and secure online application form here. You can pay with our secure payment system by using your debit card, credit card, or Paypal.

2. Receive your deed poll and certified copies

If you order before 3 PM (Mon-Fri), we will process your application the same day, and dispatch your Deed Poll within two working days, along with any certified copies you’ve ordered. 

3. Witness your deed poll and certified copies

You receive your deed poll in the mail. You’re excited, you update your name on Facebook, and you think you’re done.

Well, not so fast!

You still have to get your deed poll, and any certified copies, “executed.”

It sounds a bit harsh, but all it really means is that you have to have a qualified person present as a witness as you sign the deed poll. We will send a document along with your Deed Poll that will tell you how to execute your Deed Poll (and any duplicate copies) so that your change of name becomes fully valid.

It is a simple process, and it shouldn’t be difficult at all to find someone who can qualify to be a witness, as we’ll explain further below.

And that’s all it takes. You now have all you need to officially change your name to Darth Vader, or Sebastian Merriweather Percival the Fourth!

Of course, we will never judge your name choices. But unfortunately, there are some restrictions when it comes to your new name.

Restrictions on changing a name via deed poll

Sometimes, people tend to get a bit too creative or funny when choosing their new names, which could lead to unintended consequences. 

There are a few restrictions on the names you can choose. Here are some things to consider when selecting a new name via deed poll.

  • You can't pick an offensive or vulgar name
  • You can’t pick a new name for fraudulent purposes
  • Your new name can't promote any criminal activities 
  • You can't choose a racial slur as your new name, or anything that mocks certain groups or institutions
  • Your name can't have any numbers, symbols, or made-up punctuations in your name
  • Your name can only contain Latin characters
  • If you're picking a title, it has to be a British accepted title (Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms, and Mx)

Most of these restrictions should seem pretty obvious, but there are other things to consider, as well.

When it comes to titles, in some cases, you will need to provide evidence. 

For example, if you include a nobility title in your deed poll, such as Lord, Lady, Sir, Baron, Princess, etc. And you obviously can't call yourself a doctor or professor, unless you really are one. 

You should also avoid making any political statements, or use a group of words that aren't usually considered to be a name, to avoid complications when updating your passport, driving license, etc.

Trademark and copyright protection

Let's say you want to change your name to Ricky Gervais. 

You can do that because his name is not trademarked. But what you can't do is start working as an entertainer under that name. 

This is an extreme example to illustrate the point. But you should take a moment to consider what you do for a living, and if you could run into any copyright or trademark infringement issues with your new name.

Who can act as a witness when I sign my deed poll? 

Here are the criteria for a witness (the instructions will be included when you receive the deed poll):

  • Must be a UK resident above the age of 18
  • They must know who you are
  • The witness must be independent of you (not your partner, relative, roommate, etc.)
  • They must have the adequate mental capacity to make their own decisions
  • Witness has to be present to....well, witness you signing the deed poll

So, it could be someone like your friend, neighbor, or coworker, as long as they meet the criteria above. 

How long does it take to change your name? 

As long as you order your deed poll before 3 PM on a working day (Mon-Fri), we will send you the deed poll document and any certified copies within two business days by First Class Post.

Then you’ll have to get together with your witness and execute the deed poll.

Finally, you’ll have to make a list of all the official documents and institutions that you have to update with your new name. This is typically the most time-consuming part of the process.

Of course, it varies from person to person. On average, it takes anywhere between 3-8 weeks to complete the entire process before you are a hundred percent operational under your new name.

Who do I need to inform after a name change? 

After you’ve updated your social media profiles with your fancy new name, the real work begins.

You have to make a list of all the official documents and records that you have to update. The first things you should update are your passport and driving license. Having these two key documents will make the rest of the process a lot more straightforward.

Check out our guides on updating your passport and driving license after a name change. 

Remember, a lot of places may want to see evidence of your old name as well, especially if the person updating your record doesn’t know you personally.

Here’s a list of common records that you may have to update after a name change. 

  • HM Passport Office
  • HM Land Registry (if you own property)
  • DVLA for driving license
  • The local council for taxes and benefits
  • Department of work and pensions – for benefits
  • HM Customs and Revenue – for tax matters
  • Your employer
  • Banks
  • Pension providers and retirement accounts
  • Your mortgage company
  • Credit card providers

What is an enrolled deed poll? 

In your research, you may have come across something known as an “enrolled deed poll.” It is not the same thing as enrolling for a deed poll through an online government-registered service like the UK Deed Poll Office.

Let’s clear up any confusion.

An “enrolled deed poll” means a copy of your deed poll will be kept in the Enrolment Books of the Supreme Court of Judicature, at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. After around 5-10 years, the deed poll is shifted to the National Archives at Kew in Surrey.

One of the benefits of an enrolled deed poll is that your new name will be published by the London Gazette, both in digital and in print. 

But it does not make your new name any more official than a regular deed poll, and it is not an essential step of legally changing your name.

Does the passport office need an enrolled deed poll?

 

The passport office does not need an enrolled deed poll.

They will only require a regular deed poll, or another document such as a marriage certificate, as evidence of your new name.

For all the details, check out our guide on updating your name in your British passport

Do banks need an enrolled deed poll? 

Once again, a regular deed poll will work just fine at the bank. 

It might be easier to update your passport or driving license first before you go to the bank. But if you don’t want to wait, you can bring your regular deed poll or other official documents to update the record at the bank. 

How old do I have to be to change my name by deed poll?

You can change your name with a deed poll if you’re 16 years of age or older.

If you’re over the age of 16, but not yet 18, your legal guardians can override your decision for a name change under special circumstances (not just because they don’t like your name).

But if they do succeed in getting a court to decide against your new name, you’ll have to wait till you’re 18.

If you’re under 16, you can have your name changed by a parent or guardian, as long as all the legal guardians agree with the decision.

How much does it cost to change your name by deed poll? 

If you enroll for a deed poll through the UK Deed Poll Office, the cost of the application is £18.50. 

We’ve issued thousands of deed polls, and we guarantee that our deed polls will be accepted at all government and private institutions as evidence of your new name. Otherwise, you get your money back, 100% guaranteed!

Besides the cost of the deed poll application, there might be other costs involved in changing your name. 

For instance, to update your name on your passport, the application will cost approximately £100.00.

Why do people change their names via deed poll? 

There could be countless reasons why someone may want to change their name. 

As long as you’re not breaking the guidelines or restrictions, and you’re carefully considering how a name change would affect your life, you can change your name for any reason you wish.

It can be something as frivolous as losing a bet, or it could be to honor a family member or an ancestor.

People also change their names for financial or professional gain. There’s some evidence that suggests that people with early alphabet initials have an easier time getting accepted to schools.

Point being, as long as you feel a strong desire to change your name, you should feel confident in moving forward with the process. Besides, nothing is stopping you from changing it back down the road. 

All you’d need is another deed poll!

How many deed poll copies do I need? 

There is no set number of copies that is recommended. But keep in mind that each record you update might require a certified copy of your deed poll. For most people, around ten additional certified copies of their deed poll turns out to be sufficient.

Which is the official Deed Poll Service in the UK?

UK Deed Poll Office!

Okay, that’s not really the case. In fact, there isn’t a single official deed poll service in the Uk. Instead, there are government-registered services like ours that issue deed polls to those who are looking to officially change their names.

We’ve issued thousands of deed polls and we proudly offer one of the most trusted deed poll services in the country.

Our deed poll application process is fast, easy, secure, and your satisfaction is guaranteed (or your money back)!.

Is Deed Poll a legal document? 

Yes, a deed poll is a legal document. It acts as evidence of the fact that you’ve given up your previous name, and that you’ve started using a new name.

It is a legal document that you can use to update all your official documents like bank statements, driving license, passport, property documents, and more. 

Final thoughts on deed polls for a name change

We hope you found this guide useful and that it answered some of your questions about deed polls, and the application process to get your name change process started.

If you already know the name you want to change to, congratulations! Now, you can get the process started with our easy and secure deed poll application process.

If you only know that you hate your current name, but you’re struggling with ideas for a new name, check out our article on what to do if you hate your name

READY TO CHANGE YOUR NAME?

Join the thousands who have trusted the UK Deed Poll Office to help change their name Fill out our fast, simple, and affordable online application to receive your government-registered Deed Poll in no time!
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