Deed of change of name
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A deed of change of name is a legal document—used in the United Kingdom, Ireland and some other countries with legal systems based on English common law—for an official name change by a person or family. It is one use of a deed poll.
Some organisations, such as banks and government departments, may not recognise a name change without documentation, such as a deed or statutory declaration. However, an official document is not a legal requirement for a valid name change according to common law.
In England and Wales, such a deed may be registered in the Central Office of the High Court. Deeds so registered are advertised in the London Gazette. A deed of name change on behalf of a minor must be approved by the Senior Master on behalf of the Master of the Rolls who will take into account the child's best interests. A deed poll can also be used to change a child's name, as long as everyone with parental responsibility for the child consents to it and the child does not object to it.
Registration of deeds is regulated by the Enrolment of Deeds (Change of Name) Regulations 1994, Statutory Instrument 1994 No. 604. Compared to some other European countries, e.g. Germany, a name change in the UK is easy and virtually unrestricted regarding choice.
The procedure, requirements and law surrounding the issue in Northern Ireland are similar as in England and Wales.
In the Republic of Ireland, a deed poll of change of name (Irish: Athrú Ainm de réir Gníomhais Aonpháirtí) is obtainable from the Central Office of the Four Courts, Dublin at a cost of €30. Like in the UK, there are very few restrictions on name changes. One is that foreign nationals must also obtain a change of name license from the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service. One of Ireland's most noted name changers was the politician Seán Loftus, who repeatedly added middle names referring to his political views so that they would appear on election ballot papers.
Registration of a deed of change of name is not a legal requirement in the United Kingdom. A standard legal document, with stock wording, filled in by the person making the deed poll, and signed in presence of a witness, carries sufficient legal authority to be recognised. The witness need not be a solicitor but can be anyone over the age of 18 independent of the person changing their name.
In England, Northern Ireland and Wales, a deed of change of name will not change the name on a birth certificate. For instance, when applying for a passport, both the certificate and the deed would need to be presented as documents of identity. In Northern Ireland, for children between the ages of two and eighteen years, only one change of forename(s) and one change of surname may be recorded. In Scotland, it is also possible to record a change of name on the original birth register entry at the General Register Office. However, only one change of forename and three changes of surname are permitted.
In In re Parrott, Cox v Parrott  Ch 183, Mr Justice Vaisey stated that he did not believe that a deed poll could be used to change a person's Christian name (first name) – that could be done by only an Act of Parliament. Deeds that change a person's first name can be registered by the applicant in the Enrolment Books of the Senior Courts of England and Wales, which is located within the Royal Courts of Justice on Strand, London, and they are usually endorsed "Notwithstanding the decision of Mr Justice Vaisey in In re Parrott, Cox v Parrott, the applicant wishes the enrolment to proceed".
The following simple wording is sufficient in the United Kingdom:
Change of name deed by [former name] of [address]
I have given up my name [former name] and have adopted for all purposes the name [new name].Signed as a deed on [date] as [former name] and [new name] in the presence of [witness's name, signature and address].
DEED POLL ON CHANGE OF NAME
THIS CHANGE OF NAME DEED made this day day of month year
BY me the undersigned [new name in full] of address excluding county and postcode in the County of [county] now or lately known as [old name in full] a British citizen under section 1(1) (or a Commonwealth citizen under section 37(1)) of the British Nationality Act 1981
WITNESSES AND IT IS HEREBY DECLARED as follows:-
(i) I absolutely and entirely renounce relinquish and abandon the use of my said former name of [old name in full] and assume adopt and determine to take and use from the date hereof the name of [new name in full] in substitution for my former name of [old name in full],
(ii) 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 [new name in full] as my name in substitution for my former name of [old name in full] so relinquished as aforesaid to the intent that I may hereafter be called known or distinguished not by the former name of [old name in full] but by [new name in full] only,
(iii) I authorise and require all persons at all times to designate describe and address me by the adopted name of [new name in full].
IN WITNESS whereof I have hereunto subscribed my adopted and substituted name of [new name in full] and also my said former name of [old name in full] and have set my hand the day and year first above written.
SIGNED AS A DEED
by the above-named
_____________________________________ (new signature) ____________________________________ (old signature)
[new name in full], formerly known as [old name in full]
in the presence of
_____________________________________ (first witness's signature) _____________________________________ (second witness's signature)
[first witness's name and address], [second witness's name and address]
- "Change a child’s name". GOV.UK. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
To change the name of a child aged under 16 (sometimes called a ‘minor’) you’ll need either: the agreement of everyone with parental responsibility [or] a court order
- "Changing your name". AdviceGuide UK. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
- "Enrolment of Deeds (Change of Name) Regulations 1994". Opsi.gov.uk. 4 July 2011. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
- "Recording changes of forename(s) and surname(s) in Scotland" (PDF). General Register Office for Scotland. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 June 2011.
- Adler, Mark. Clarity for lawyers. 2nd edition. London: Law Society, 2007, pp. 185–86.