The law about names in the United Kingdom is pretty unusual, but most people don’t know this. If you use a name so much that you are known by that name, it becomes your legal name. For example, Reginald Dwight is known as Elton John and that is legally his name.
Sounds simple… But, in order to have your name changed in other official places, you generally need an official document to prove that you’ve changed it. Usually people use a deed poll, which is what we explain below. There are other ways, all of which cost money, which is why we haven’t gone into detail about them here.
The deed poll consists of three sections called declarations: committing the person to abandoning their former name, using only the new name and requiring everyone else to use only the new name. It then needs to be signed and dated by the person changing their name and signed by one or two witnesses. After that, it can be used to change the name on your driving licence, passport, bank card, etc.
Lots of people think you have to pay for a deed poll. You do not! There are websites which charge large sums of money for deed polls because of this.
This website creates free deed polls. You might like to use thick, or certificate paper to print it on. The paper you use legally makes no difference, but often people create problems for you if they decide it doesn’t look ‘legal’ enough.
People under 18 often use the above deed poll without any problems. You might occasionally have difficulty though – if so, have a look here how the government advise changing your name if you’re under 18.
Changing your title (e.g. Mr, Miss…)
So here’s another thing most people don’t know: your title has no legal bearing (unless it’s something like Dr or Prof). You can ask to be called Mr rather than Miss/Mrs/Ms and vice versa without needing any legal documents. If anyone tells you otherwise then ask them to cite their legal source – they won’t have one! If they tell you it’s just company policy, then their company policy is transphobic which is against the Equalities Act 2010.
The information contained on this page is intended as a general statement of the law, and is true at time of writing. Specific advice on a particular problem should always be sought from a qualified source.