A man’s name change rights and options upon marriage

Traditionally, a man does not change his surname upon marriage.  However, many men decide to either:

  • Double-barrel their surname with their wife’s surname.
  • Take their wife’s surname.
  • Make their wife’s surname a middle name.
  • “Mesh” their surname with their wife’s surname to make a new surname.

1. The alternatives to tradition

If you decide against tradition and wish to consider one of the above options, please read on.

1.1 Double-barrelling your surname with your wife’s surname OR taking your wife’s surname

A double-barrelled surname uses both the couple’s surnames. The two elements of the new surname can be linked by a hyphen or kept separate e.g. Smith-Jones or Smith Jones. It is personal choice whether a hyphen is used and which order the names are placed – although there is a tradition in some social circles to place the man’s surname last. Most couples however decide the order by what sounds better when the new double-barrelled surname is spoken.

If, following your marriage, you wish to double-barrel your surname with your wife’s surname, or take your wife’s surname, a Deed Poll is often required. Although some companies and organisations will change their records to your new double-barrelled surname, or to your wife’s surname, upon presentation of your marriage certificate, many will not, particularly the financial institutions e.g. banks and building societies. A Deed Poll will guarantee that your new surname will be accepted by everyone without question. Please note, government departments, including the Passport Office and DVLA accept marriage certificates as documentary evidence of a man changing his surname to a double-barrelled surname or for a man taking his wife’s surname. The only way to find out if you need a Deed Poll to get your non-government documents and records changed is to contact, for example, your bank, building society, credit card company and mortgage company etc and ask what their policy is for changing your surname upon marriage.

1.2 A further option if you will be double-barrelling your surnames

If you and your wife will be double-barrelling your surnames by Deed Poll, the cost of a second Deed Poll (for your wife) can be avoided if you change your surname by Deed Poll to your double-barrelled surname before you marry. Consequently, upon marriage, your wife can take your double-barrelled surname, in the traditional way, by using your marriage certificate as documentary evidence of her change of surname (because your double-barrelled surname is on your marriage certificate). Please note, you should only follow the above advice if you have sufficient time to get the documents you will be taking with you on your honeymoon changed to your new double-barrelled surname, for example, your passport, travel documents, driving licence, credit cards etc. We suggest you should apply for your Deed Poll at least three months before your wedding to allow sufficient time to get everything changed before you travel on your honeymoon (you are strongly advised not to travel overseas carrying documents in different names). You will also need to notify your minister/registrar that you have changed your surname by Deed Poll so your marriage notice can be amended to your new double-barrelled surname. We suggest you take with your two or three documents in your new name e.g. your passport, driving licence and say a credit card, so you can demonstrate to your minister/registrar that you are using your new name for all purposes.

1.3 Making your wife’s surname a middle name

If your wife will be taking your surname upon marriage, in recognition of her giving up her family name, you could make your wife’s surname one of your middle names. Such a gesture may be greatly appreciated by your wife and not make the name change process following marriage one-sided. If you wish to make your wife’s surname a middle name, you can do this by Deed Poll.

1.4 “Meshing” your surnames

Meshing surnames is a term used to describe the blending of elements of each of the couple’s surname to create a new surname for both of them. For example, if Sarah THOMPSON marries Michael SIMMONS, they could mesh their surnames to become Sarah and Michael SIMMSON (or THOMONS). Because you will be both be applying for a Deed Poll, you could also consider adding your original surnames as middle names, thereby maintaining a link to your original family names. Using the above example, Sarah THOMPSON would become Sarah Thompson SIMMSON.

2. When to apply for your Deed Polls

If you need to apply for Deed Polls to change your name, there are two options to consider in respect of the timing of your application:

2.1 Apply in time for signing on your wedding day

If you wish to make the signing of your Deed Polls part of your nuptials (and sign your Deed Poll documents after your marriage ceremony or later at your reception), you should apply for your Deed Polls at least three weeks before your wedding (this allows for any postal delays). When you complete your application forms, please write in the box in section 1 titled “Do you want us to date your Deed Poll with a future date” the date of your wedding (use the comments box on the postal application form). We will then date your Deed Polls for your wedding day, which looks so much better than hand writing the date. After signing your Deed Polls after your ceremony (but not before), you will keep them safe at home and upon your return from your honeymoon you will start the process of letting everyone know of your change of name by Deed Poll.

2.2 Apply upon returning from your honeymoon

If you do not wish to sign your Deed Polls on your wedding day, you can apply for your Deed Polls upon returning from your honeymoon. You can of course still order before your wedding if you wish, particularly if you want your Deed Poll documents to hand for signing upon returning from your honeymoon.

3. Making other changes to your name

If you will be applying for a Deed Poll to change your name following your marriage, you can also take the opportunity to make other changes to your name. For example, you may wish to change, add, rearrange or remove forenames.