It’s common practice for trans people to change our names to ones more fitting of our genders, but people change their names when they get married or separate, to make a hard to spell or pronounce name simpler, or just to have a more commonly used nickname as an official name on documents.
Whatever your reasons, it can seem daunting. Advice online can be confusing, with sites claiming to be easiest and cheapest, old fashioned transgender advice and vague government pages. What’s most misleading are the services you pay for a deed poll. They carefully word things to make you think you have to pay, so finding the cheapest or most official company is your best option, but you don’t have to pay. It’s worth repeating – you don’t have to pay for a deed poll! It’s easy and equally valid to do your own deed poll.
There are some restrictions on what you can choose as a name; you can’t have a title like Princess or Lord as a first name and you aren’t allowed to have an overtly offensive name such as Adolf Hitler or a string of swearwords. You need a first name and a surname at least, for most place to accept it, and then you’re ready to make your deed poll.
The Deed Poll
All you need to change your name by deed poll is two witnesses who aren’t related to you, but other than that can be anyone (you can ask strangers if you want!) and an official looking piece of paper with this printed on it:
Deed Poll on Change of Name
This change of name deed made this [date] day of [month, year]
By me the undersigned [full new name] of [street address] in the County of [county] now or lately known as [full old name] a British Citizen under section 37(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981
Witnesses and it is hereby declared as follows:-
- I absolutely and entirely renounce relinquish and abandon the use of my said former name of [full old name] and assume adopt and determine to take and use from the date hereof the name of [full new name] in substitution of my former name [full old name]
- I shall at all times hereafter in all records deeds documents and other writings and in all actions and proceedings as well as in all dealings and transactions and on all occasions whatsoever use and subscribe the said name of [full new name] as my name in substitution for my former name of [full old name] so relinquished as aforesaid to the intent that I may hereafter be called known or distinguished not by the former name of [full old name] but by [full new name] only,
- I authorise and require all persons at all times to designate describe and address me by the adopted name of [full new name].
In witness whereof I have hereunto subscribed my adopted and substituted name of [new full name] and also my said former name of [old full name] and have set my hand the day and year first above written.
Signed as a deed by the above-named
[old and new signatures]
[full new name], formerly known as [full old name]
In the presence of
[witness 1 signature]
[witness 1 first and surname] of [street address] in [county] [postcode]
[witness 2 signature]
[witness 2 first and surname] of [street address] in [county] [postcode]
Technically you can write “I [old name] hereby change my name to [new name]” on the back on an envelope, but by having an official looking document it is a lot easier to get your other documents changed to your new name.
Who to Tell
Now you have a deed poll, your name is official! However, you still have to inform every company for them to change your records, and that can be a lot to remember.
DVLA – if you have a driving license, you MUST inform the DVLA as soon as possible, as using your old licence is considered fraudulent and you can face a fine of up to £1000!
Electoral Registration – you must inform the council for your electoral registration to be updated, as this is often used to check your details by other companies.
Passport – you need to get a new passport, but changing your picture is optional.
HMRC – your National Insurance will need to be updated
Banks and Building Societies – remember to inform every bank and building society you have an account with!
Employers and Education – any employer you have needs to know and updated records and payment details, and any school, college or university you’re enrolled in needs to know too.
Bills and Loans – your landlord and or mortgage company will need to know, as will any company you pay bills towards such as mobile phone, gas and electric, and things like club memberships. If you have any loans, including Student Loans, those companies will need to know too.
Doctor, Dentist etc – your medical records and any billing information will need updating. Private companies such as the opticians will all need informing, and it might be quicker to tell all NHS departments such as your GP and various specialist separately rather than wait for the first to inform all the others.
Benefits Departments – if you receive benefits, you will need to tell the department that deals with them, such as Work and Pensions for JSA.
Anywhere else you use your legal name – your deed poll is a promise to stop using your old name and start using your new name in its place, so tell any organisation you have your name listed as you go along. There’s no rush with this, but the whole point of changing your name is using a different name.
Friends, family, acquaintances – most likely two of your good friends were your witnesses, and you excitedly told other friends and family members. If it wasn’t an expected change, like your surname when you got married, or you didn’t make a big announcement to everyone, make sure you don’t forget anyone.