Are there any restrictions on names and titles?
This page explains the restrictions we impose on what you can change your name and title to.
1. Name restrictions
We will not accept an application for a name that:
- does not include at least one forename and one surname;
- is impossible to pronounce;
- includes numbers or symbols (see section 2 below);
- includes punctuation marks that do not have a phonetic significance. However, you can have a hyphen to link forenames or surnames (for example, if you want a double-barrelled name) and an apostrophe in the case of surnames like O’Brien;
- is vulgar, offensive or blasphemous;
- promotes criminal activities;
- promotes racial or religious hatred;
- promotes the use of controlled drugs or includes the generic or slang name for them;
- ridicules people, groups, government departments, companies or organisations;
- may result in others believing you have a conferred or inherited honour, title, rank or academic award, for example, a change of first name to Sir, Lord, Laird, Lady, Prince, Princess, Viscount, Baron, Baroness, General, Captain, Professor or Doctor etc.
- exceeds the maximum number of characters allowed in a name (see section 7 below).
Other than the above restrictions, you can change your forenames, surname (or both), add names, remove names or rearrange your existing names. You can change your name at any time and for any reason provided it is not for deceptive or fraudulent purposes or for the avoidance of an obligation.
Please note, if you choose a forename or surname that consists of a single letter or includes modified Latin characters, you may find the computer systems of some record holders will be unable to show your name correctly. Many computer systems are programmed to only accept standard Latin characters and require at least two characters for the forename and surname.
2. Characters we can print on our Deed Poll documents
We will only print Latin characters on your Deed Poll document. However, we can print modified Latin characters that include the following accents and marks: acute, grave, circumflex, tilde, diaeresis (umlaut), cedilla, macron, ogonek, caron and a dot. To see a list of all characters we can print on your Deed Poll document (and instructions about how to enter them on your application form), please click on this link (opens new window).
Please note, you may find the computer systems of some record holders will be unable to show your name correctly if it includes modified Latin characters.
3. Title restrictions
If you are changing your name, we can also include a change of title on your Deed Poll – so long as it is a genuine and recognised British title. Please read the following paragraphs for further information about title changes and the restrictions we impose:
3.1 Recognised British social titles (i.e. Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms and Mx)
When changing your name, there are no restrictions if you also wish to change your title to a recognised British social title, for example, from Mrs to Miss, Miss to Mrs or from Miss to Ms. We will also allow a change of social title for transgender people e.g. from Mr to Miss, Miss to Mr etc. We do not need to see any documentary evidence of your entitlement to use a recognised social title. Please note, it is perfectly acceptable for a single woman to use the title Mrs.
For further information about the title Mx, please click on this link (opens pop-up window).
3.2 Academic titles
If you also require a change of title to an academic title, we will need to see documentary evidence of your entitlement to use your desired title. For example, if you require Dr as your new title, we will need to see a copy (by fax or post) of your Ph.D certificate. If you are a medical doctor or a dentist, you only need to advise us of your GMC or GDC reference number in the comments box on your application form.
Please note, your academic award must have been conferred by a UK academic institution or body approved by either Royal Charter, Act of Parliament or the Privy Council.
3.3 Nobility titles and honours
If you also require your title to be changed to a title of nobility or honour e.g. Lord, Lady or Sir, the title must relate to an honour granted by the Sovereign of the United Kingdom and you must be entitled to use the title in accordance with the honour’s traditional style of usage.
Please note, we only recognise genuine British titles of nobility. If you have purchased a title purporting to allow you to use a title such as Sir, Lord, Laird or Lady, we will not recognise such a title because you cannot purchase a genuine British title of nobility.
3.4 Religious titles
If you also require your title to be changed to a religious title, the title must be one that is used by one of the main, generally recognised religions (with a pre-ordination process) that is practiced in the United Kingdom. Please click on this link (opens pop-up window) to see a list of main religions recognised by us.
To enable us to include your change of title on your Deed Poll documentation, we will need to see documentary evidence of your entitlement to use your desired title, for example, your ordination certificate or a letter appointing you as clergy in your religion.
3.5 If we do not receive evidence of your entitlement to use your desired title
If documentary evidence is required to enable us to include a change of title on your Deed Poll documentation (or if your desired title is not recognised by us) and we do not receive it when your Deed Poll documentation is prepared (which will depend upon the delivery service you have requested on your application form), your Deed Poll will be issued showing your name change only.
3.6 If you only want to change your title (with no name change)
There’s no need to follow any formal procedure (such a executing a Deed Poll) if you only wish to change your title. You simply need to start using your new title and notify all the record holders that you have changed it. If your title change is to an academic title, a title of nobility or to a religious title, you should enclose documentary evidence of your entitlement to use your desired title.
4. Fun names
Some people like the idea of having what we call a fun name. We have issued Deed Polls for fun names such as Jellyfish McSaveloy, Toasted T Cake, Nineteen Sixty-Eight, Hong Kong Phooey, Daddy Fantastic, One-One-Eight Taxi, Ting A Ling, Huggy Bear, Donald Duck, Jojo Magicspacemonkey and James Bond. To visit our media page to see newspaper articles about our most unusual and bizarre name changes during the past years, please click on this link (opens new window).
If you are considering a fun name and belong to a professional body, you should check to ensure there will be no problems registering your new name with them. The Law Society would not be happy with a solicitor being called Mickey Mouse!
We reserve the right to refuse an application for a fun name from a person who is under 18 years of age.
If you are considering changing your name to a fun name, please read the next three sections.
5. Copyright and trade mark protection of names
There is no copyright or trade mark protection of people’s names. Therefore, if you want to change your name to David Beckham or Aston Martin, you can. However, you cannot use your new name if it results in passing-off or deception. For example, if you changed your name to Elton John and you published songs in that name, you will find yourself subject to trade mark infringement legal action by the artist Sir Elton John on the grounds that you are passing yourself off as him.
On a more every-day level, because there is no copyright or trade mark protection of people’s names, following divorce, a man cannot stop his ex-wife from continuing to use his surname (unless his ex-wife is deceiving people or companies into believing she is still married to him).
If you are considering changing your name to a trade marked name, please read the next section.
6. Applying for a passport in a fun, temporary or trade marked name
HM Passport Office (HMPO) have introduced a policy for inappropriate and temporary name changes in passports. Under this policy, HMPO will not issue a passport in a name that is temporary or contains: a political statement, a string of words that will not normally be considered a name or a trade marked name (there are other restrictions in HMPO’s policy but our own restrictions on new names mean that a Deed Poll issued by us would not be in breach of the other restrictions in their policy). However, if you provide HMPO with documentary evidence that you are using your new name for all purpose, HMPO will issue you a passport (in your current name) with an observation stating “The holder is also known as new name”.
Therefore, when you apply for your new passport, you will need to enclose at least two documents you have changed to your new name to demonstrate you are using your new name for all purposes e.g. your driving licence and a utility bill. We will also enclose with your Deed Poll documentation, the suggested wording of a letter you should enclose with your passport application in support of your request for a passport in your new name.
7. Limits on the number of characters in your names
For the published fee, there is a limit of 150 characters, including spaces, for all the names to be printed on your Deed Poll documentation. If your names will exceed 150 characters, please email us and we will advise you of the additional fee payable (due to the additional work involved preparing your Deed Poll documentation).
Please note, the passport office will only print 30 characters (including spaces) for forenames and 30 characters for a surname on your passport. However, if your name exceeds these limits, you can request the passport office prints your full name on your passport’s observation page. The DVLA and other record holders also have similar limitations on what can be entered on their computer systems and printed on your documents and records. Therefore, if you decide to have a very long name, in usage, you will only be able to use part of it.