Read on to find out how to change your name for free in the UK.
Did you know that it’s perfectly okay to make a free deed poll certificate? Changing your name in the UK is entirely possible without spending any money, or getting involved in a legal process.
I’m in the process of changing my name at the moment, and I’m SHOCKED by the number of websites that you can pay to buy a deed poll.
Why would you change your name?
Lots of reasons.
Sometimes it’s a political or personal statement. You might change your name after coming out as trans or non-binary, or you might choose a name to reflect your cultural heritage. It could be to do with wanting to move on from a family split or estrangement.
Whatever the reason, it seems there’s a thriving industry of websites that offer to sell you a deed poll. But the truth is? You can change your name for free in the UK by simply writing your own deed poll.
Why you don’t need to pay to change your name!
When changing your name, you should bear in mind that UK law only requires that you create a deed poll that includes specific information.
There’s no requirement for a ‘seal’ or ‘certificate’ or for a deed poll. It doesn’t need to be signed by a solicitor or filed with a court.
Actually, it doesn’t matter WHO creates your deed poll. It can be written up on your home computer in Word, or written on a page of A4 in biro. It doesn’t matter.
So long as that document requires the right information, you can share your Deed Poll with banks, credit card companies, DVLA or whoever you choose.
How much does it cost to change your name?
If you want to know how much it costs you change your name in the UK, the simple answer is – nothing. Zero. Zip.
But if you Google “how to change your name in the UK” the chances are you’ll see a bunch of ads, websites and official sounding companies that will charge you anywhere from £20 to £100 for a “deed poll certificate”. And these companies will send you an official looking certificate with a fancy seal and embossed letters.
You DO NOT NEED this certificate. It is no more or less official than something you wrote yourself in Microsoft Word and printed out at home. No UK government agency, including DVLA and the Passport Office, requires you to send a paid for OR enrolled deed poll to change your name.
Some banks mistakenly ask for deed polls to be enrolled, but this isn’t a requirement and you should remind them of this.
What do I include in a free deed poll?
So if you decide to write your own deed poll document, here’s what you’ll need to do:
Use the following wording:
“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]”
Once you have this document and it’s been signed, that’s your deed poll. You can send copies to anyone as proof of your new name.
Should I Pay for a Deed Poll Certificate?
In some circumstances, it might be convenient to apply for a paid deed poll certificate from one of these websites. Maybe you want a decorative certificate that you can frame and put on the wall of your office. Maybe you’re not confident using Word, or you don’t have access to a printer, or you’re nervous about getting the wording wrong.
That’s okay. In that case, you can buy a deed poll to confirm a change of name.
But it’s 100% not a requirement. In 99% of cases you don’t need to pay for a deed poll.
What is an enrolled deed poll?
There is one scenario where you might pay for a deed poll related service. This is when you want to ‘enrol’ your deed poll with the court.
While your existing basic deed poll is sufficient proof that you’re using your new name, if you’re over 18 you can pay £42 (current price) to lodge your deed poll with the new name with the courts. This means your change of name is part of the public record.
Most solicitors say there’s no real reason to have your deed poll enrolled, unless perhaps you’re a public figure and the wider community might be interested in checking out your various name iterations. Otherwise, just make your own form, print it out, and send it to the relevant agencies and organisations. The only requirement is that your new name should not fall foul of the rules on unacceptable names.
How to change your name for free
So you want to change your name for free, in the UK? Here’s the basic process:
- Use the wording above to confirm your change of name
- Make sure your new name doesn’t break the guidelines for ‘acceptable names’ from the Passport Office or DVLA
- Print off your deed poll, and ask two adults to witness your new and old signatures
- Send your deed poll off to any organisations that need to be aware of your new name.
- That’s it!
Changing your name in the UK: useful websites
This site explains the UK Passport Office acceptable names policy. If you’re considering a name that’s at all controversial, check these rules first to make sure your deed poll will be accepted.
This is the government website that explains how to create a deed poll, and (should you want to do so) where to download the forms to enrol your deed poll.
Please note this process is a little more complex if you’re adopted. To submit an enrolled deed poll application you’re asked to provide your adoption paperwork, which I assume means your adoption certificate.
Who do I inform of a name change?
When you change your name there is a certain amount of admin involved. You’ll need to let various agencies know about your new name, since part of the guidance around a deed poll is you agree to relinquish your old name and no longer use it. Agencies you might want to share your deed poll with, to update accounts include:
- Passport Office and DVLA
- Bank, credit card company, financial service providers
- Mortgage company
- Insurance (life, car, household, pet, health)
- The police (if you have a criminal record, the police must be informed of changes of name)
- Record holders (eg benefits office, HMRC)
- Your employer (especially if your bank details and tax details are changed)
- The council – they’ll need to update the electoral roll, which you can request here.
- Your GP can update your name, title and gender on NHS records on your behalf
Changing a Child’s Name
If you’re under 16 and want to change your name, or if you’re a parent hoping to change a child’s name, the process might be slightly different.
If you want to get an enrolled deed poll you’ll need EITHER a court order OR signed permission from everyone who has parental responsibility for the child, before you can complete a deed poll. If a child under 16 submits an enrolled deed poll, it’s possible to contact the court and ask them to only publish the child’s first name in the public record, to protect their privacy.
Basically, don’t spend a fortune on a deed poll. You can change your name for free in the UK. It’s quick and simple and doesn’t need to cost a penny!