Who can apply for a Deed Poll?
Your age, nationality and country of residence are the factors that determine whether you can apply for a Deed Poll to change your name. This article also includes information for people who have dual nationality, asylum seekers, refugees, undischarged bankrupts, people with criminal records and people detained under the Mental Health Act.
1. Age requirement
To change your own name by Deed Poll in the United Kingdom you must be at least 16 years of age. To change the name of a child who is under 16 years of age, someone with parental responsibility can apply so long as everyone with parental responsibility for the child consents to the name change. Please read our page Can I change my child’s name (opens new window) for further information about parental responsibility and the consent requirements.
2. Nationality and country of residence
Please read the section below that applies to you. Please note, for the purpose of changing your name, United Kingdom means England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey.
2.1 If you are British (living in the UK or overseas):
In general, there are no restrictions to changing your name by Deed Poll. However, before you apply for your Deed Poll, please read sections 3, 5, 6 and 7 below in case they apply to you.
2.2 If you are not British:
- If you live in the United Kingdom
You can apply for a Deed Poll but before you submit your application, we advise you to check with the consular services section of your country’s Embassy or High Commission to see if they will issue you with a passport in your new name using your Deed Poll as documentary evidence of your change of name. If your Deed Poll will be accepted, there may be special requirements, for example, the Pakistan High Commission requires its nationals to have the signing of their Deed Poll witnessed by a solicitor, while the Danish and Estonian Embassies require their nationals to have their Deed Poll legalised [What is legalisation – opens pop-up window]. If you cannot get your passport changed to your new name, you may find your Deed Poll will not be accepted by all UK government departments, companies and organisations on the grounds that your are not changing your name “for all purposes”.
If you will be applying for a Child Deed Poll and plan applying for a passport in your child’s new name, you should first contact your Embassy or High Commission in London to check your country’s laws governing parental responsibility and who needs to consent to your child’s name change. Parental responsibility laws vary from country to country and we are not aware of them. Therefore, we will accept in good faith your word for who has parental responsibility for your child. Furthermore, you should also check the age at which your country considers a young person to be a child as this can vary too. For example, to obtain a US passport in a new name for a 17 year old, the US Embassy in London requires a Child Deed Poll because the US does not consider a young person to be an adult until reaching 18 years of age. If you require an additional Deed Poll because of the difference in the age of majority between the UK (which is 16 for the purpose of name changing) and your country, we will issue one at the reduced fee of £12.
Please note, most foreign nationals are able to change the name on their UK documents and records using their Deed Poll without getting their passport changed but it is not guaranteed. Also, if you do get all your UK documents and records changed to your new name, you need to be aware that you may have problems travelling outside the UK if your passport shows one name and the other documents you have on you show a different name. Please note, should you later apply for British citizenship, you will need to apply in the name that appears on your current passport, travel document or Biometric Residence Permit. The UK Home Office will not normally issue a certificate of registration or naturalisation in the name that is different from your official documents. Names that do not match your current passport or other identity documents may result in Her Majesty’s Passport Office refusing to issue you with a British passport if you hold another passport containing a different name.
Warning: You are strongly advised not to book overseas travel in your new name until you are in possession of your new passport in your new name.
- If you live outside the United Kingdom
It is unlikely a Deed Poll issued by us will be effective changing your name unless you have a specific purpose for the Deed Poll document. For example, you may be applying for British citizenship and the British Embassy you are dealing with have advised you to apply to us for a Deed Poll so your new British passport is issued in your new name.
3. If you have dual nationality
If you are British and you notify Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) that you also hold a passport of another country, HMPO will require you to get your other passport changed to your new name before issuing you with a new British passport in your new name.
4. Asylum seekers and refugees
If you are seeking asylum or a refugee (i.e. you have been granted asylum), your Deed Poll will be accepted by the UK Border Agency as evidence of your name change. Please note, when you complete your application form, enter your immigration status as your nationality.
If you have a Convention Travel Document or a Certificate of Travel, you can use your Deed Poll to apply for a new travel document in your new name.
If you apply for British citizenship after your name change, your naturalisation certificate and British passport will be issued in your new name.
5. Undischarged bankrupts
If you are an undischarged bankrupt, you are free to change your name by Deed Poll. However, if you are self employed and want to trade in your new name, you must tell all those with whom you do business the name in which you were made bankrupt. In other words, you are not allowed to carry on the same trade in a different name without telling your customers about your former name. This condition does not apply once you are discharged from bankruptcy. You must also notify the Official Receiver dealing with your bankruptcy of your name change.
6. People with criminal records
Having a criminal record does not prevent you from changing your name by Deed Poll. However, you must be aware of the following:
- If you have any existing or pending criminal actions against you, you must notify the police station dealing with your case of your name change.
- If you are on probation, you must notify your probation officer of your name change.
- If you are on the Sex Offenders’ Register, you must notify the police within 3 days from when you start using your new name. It is a criminal offence not to do so.
7. People detained under the Mental Health Act
There is no specific provision in the Mental Health Act that prevents a detained person from changing their name. However, any person who executes a Deed Poll must have mental capacity i.e. they must have sufficient capacity to understand the significance and consequences of changing their name otherwise the Deed Poll can be deemed void and be ignored. When deciding the capacity of a detained person, clinicians will take into account the following key principles of the Mental Capacity Act:
- A presumption of capacity – every adult has the right to make his or her own decisions and must be assumed to have capacity to do so unless it is proved otherwise;
- The right for individuals to be supported to make their own decisions – people must be given all appropriate help before anyone concludes that they cannot make their own decisions;
- Individuals must retain the right to make what might be seen as eccentric or unwise decisions.
If you are eligible to apply for a Deed Poll, please click on this link (opens new tab)