When I was thinking about changing my name, I was convinced it would:
- Cost lots of money
- Be a huge faff
- Once you’ve done it, you can’t change again easily
But it is actually for the most part free, not too difficult, and there’s no restriction on how many times you can do it. A great perk of being #ActuallyAutistic is that once I find out about a topic I have to find out everything about that topic. So I have used this super skill to bring you everything you need to know about changing your name in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland:
Basic Deed Poll
A deed poll is a legal document to prove you have changed your name officially. Even though it is a ‘legal’ document most people just make one themselves as this is totally allowed! There are some cases where you may have to get one made by the government, but we will discuss these circumstances below.
To be a legal deed poll all it needs to say is the following:
I [old name] of [your address] have given up my name [old name] and have adopted for all purposes the name [new name].
Signed as a deed on [date] as [old name] and [new name] in the presence of [witness 1 name] of [witness 1 address], and [witness 2 name] of [witness 2 address].
[your new signature], [your old signature]
[witness 1 signature], [witness 2 signature]
The witnesses can be anyone.
Now, even though by filling in a piece of paper that says all of these things on it means you have legally officially changed your name some people *cough* banks *coughcough* can sometimes kick up a fuss saying it is not official enough.
So here are some things you can do to make your deed poll more acceptable to banks:
1. Put it on fancy paper
Get some nice parchment-y paper and print it onto that. A4TH have some fancy paper for people to use for deed polls, so contact us if you’d like a sheet rather than buy a whole packet.
2. Write in coloured ink
If you write in black ink, some banks may suspect that your deed poll is a photocopy. Use blue – or any other colour! – to make sure this doesn’t happen.
3. Make the content look fancy
I have made a template that you can fill in and print to make your deed poll look more ‘official’. (Download here)
4. Sign multiple copies
You may find multiple institutions asking for an ‘original’ copy of your deed poll. To make this easy on yourself, get your witnesses to sign a few copies so you are prepared for this.
5. Get a solicitor to sign
You can ask a solicitor (or some other official kind of person) to sign your deed poll, or print it on their firm’s paper, to make it look more official. But they might charge you to do that.
Enrolling a Deed Poll (optional)
If your bank (or any other organisation) are still refusing to accept your deed poll, and you’ve tried talking to the manager and making a general fuss then they might require you to ‘enroll’ your deed poll.
To get an ‘enrolled’ deed poll costs £36 and you have to fill out a bunch of forms. (Download here) For your £36 they’ll send you a deed poll that’s been given the thumbs up by the Royal Courts of Justice and put your name change in the London Gazette like it’s the olden days.
You should only bother doing this if someone asks you too, otherwise it’s not worth it really. The first method is totally legal and proper, the second just exists to please banks & for name changes of people under 16 years old.
One of the reasons that it’s not worth it is there are lots of rules. For example, if you’re married you need the permission of your spouse which is just odd. And if you’re under 16 years old you need your parents’ (adoptive or otherwise) permission which might be a pain. If you are under 16 then it might be best to wait and do it for free on your own terms, but if you have supportive parents go for it!
Hopefully that’s helpful for some of you out there! Sorry I haven’t advised you on how to change your name if you’re Scottish, but they have different rules. It is something you can find out about on the net though, you could try starting with Citizen’s Advice Scotland.
The last part of this guide, to take the edge off, is some fun things you can do when you change your name.
Fun Name Changing Rituals & Activities
- If you have a wax seal kit, put one on your deed poll for a cool authentic look
- Throw a name changing party with your witnesses and some other friends
- Change the coat of arms on my template to your own creation symbolising you
Go forth and have your true name realised!
Love Miller (he/him)