To Deed Poll or not to Deed Poll

A Helpful Guide to Determine When a Deed Poll is Needed to Legally Change your Name

There are many reasons why men and women may wish to assume a different first, middle or last name. Most happen after a life event such as marriage, divorce or gender reassignment.

Changing your name is a big step, and for many people, the start of new beginnings. But, the process of going about changing names can be very confusing and somewhat daunting. One of the most commonly-asked questions that we receive is, “do I need a deed poll or not?”

At NameSwitch, we help thousands of people switch names every year and so, we’ve constructed this guide which is based on our extensive experience and legal knowledge in this field.

What Types of Name Change Require a Deed Poll?

To begin with, let’s look at the situations which are relatively straight forward.

DOES NOT Require a Deed Poll

  • Changing your title – for example, becoming a Miss after being a Mrs;
  • Shortening your christian name – e.g. being known as Bill instead of William N.B. a few bodies such as the Passport Office include specific sections on their application forms that recognise this;
  • Reverting to your maiden name after getting divorced – all you need to change from your married name back to your maiden name is a decree absolute. *Please see the section on “Grey Areas” for exceptions to this rule;
  • Double-barrelling – combining surnames in a natural order with or without a hyphen (e.g. Smith-Jones). *Please see the section on “Grey Areas” for exceptions to this rule.

DOES Require a Deed Poll

  • Changing your first name or changing/adding a middle name; (e.g. turning a maiden name into a middle name);
  • Swapping a middle name with a first Name; (e.g born as Peter Ashley Smith but always known by Ashley);
  • Meshing surnames – if you’re planning on blending two surnames into one (e.g. Bloom and Hunt becomes Blunt);
  • Assuming a new name after gender reassignment;
  • Assuming a completely new name other than your maiden name after divorce;
  • Combining a married name with a maiden name during or following divorce.

The grey areas

There are a couple of scenarios which are not so black-and-white, and sadly, these often affect gay men, and also women who are separated or in the process of getting divorced.

Reverting to your Maiden Name Before Your Divorce is Final

While you only need a decree absolute and not a deed poll if you decide you want to revert to your maiden name after getting divorced, if you reclaim your maiden name before you’re divorced (e.g. while separated or midway through the divorce process), you may run into difficulties. Although the law allows you to reassume your maiden name at any time without having to provide a reason, a significant number of companies such as The Passport Office, DVLA and banks are unable to process your name change request without a legally recognised document as supporting evidence.

While it may be frustrating, we suggest that you wait until your divorce is final before changing names, or if you’re adamant that you wish to proceed regardless, get a deed poll so that you can state it as your reason for the change (and providing your deed poll as documentary evidence). If you choose the latter, we recommend that you seek legal advice if you own an account that is considered a shared asset or has financial implications (e.g. loans, credit cards, bank accounts, and property).

Double-Barrelling or Assuming your Gay (Male) Partner’s Name

The good news is, government bodies such as DVLA, Land Registry, the Passport Office, and HMRC do not require you to have a deed poll to process a double-barrelled name change request for gay couples. A valid marriage or civil partnership certificate will be accepted as documentary evidence.

Some financial institutions are historically known for being behind the times when it comes to recognising requests from men as well as same-sex couples. Although things are definitely improving in this area, if you don’t have a deed poll, you may encounter some issues. But, if you’ve already obtained a passport and/or driving licence in your new double-barrelled name, they can provide handy supporting evidence in the event you encounter any difficulties with more backward organisations.

NameSwitch’s Top Tips

Top Tip 1: If you change your name by deed poll prior to marriage, you can request that your wedding celebrant prepares your marriage certificate in your new name so that you may sign it on the day. This would also be the ideal time to let your wedding guests know what you will be called from this day forth.

Top Tip 2: For couples who are planning a combined name change, having one party change their name accordingly before the marriage and signing the certificate as in tip 1 above will also save the time and cost of initiating a second deed poll. The other spouse can then assume their new name after the marriage.

Top Tip 3: Get copies! Always request several official (original) copies (N.B., we recommend between three and five) of your marriage certificate or deed poll. This will allow you to notify multiple companies simultaneously.

How can NameSwitch help with Deed Poll?

Obtaining your deed poll is just the beginning of the process. Next, you will need to notify approximately eighteen different government bodies and companies of your new name. We appreciate that this can seem a trifle overwhelming, but luckily, NameSwitch can help make the whole process as painless and efficient as possible. With our Deed Poll Premium Print Package we’ll supply you with 4 x high quality original deed polls and all the letters, forms, and personalised instructions you’ll need to inform a vast array of UK-based companies and government bodies of your name change. All securely delivered to your home via Royal Mail first class tracked service. Find out more.

We also offer a stand-alone Adult Deed Poll package, which will supply you with 2 x high quality original deed polls, a free name change checklist and a personalised name change request letter template. There are also number of optional add-ons. Find out more.


Why not check out our FAQ’s as a starting point. Or, to ask for advice on your particular situation, please feel free to get in touch with us.