Name Change Guidance for Non-UK Nationals

NameSwitch Guide Series

If you have moved to the UK from another country, are a Non-UK citizen or dual nationality holder and wish to change your name after marriage, divorce, gender reassignment or deed poll you may be a little daunted about where to start! Read on to find out how the name change process works for non-UK nationals.

NameSwitch is the UK’s expert in helping people obtain a name change as smoothly and quickly as possible, and as we’ve been contacted by numerous non-UK nationals in recent years, we’ve dedicated this guide to anyone who’s a non-UK/dual nationality holder and is wondering how to navigate the name change process under UK laws.

Changing your name on your passport after marriage

If you’ve married a UK resident and now wish to update your passport, UK driving licence and other documents to reflect your new name, you may need to make an appointment with your nearest consulate to get things officially recognised via your native country consulate:

US Passport holders will need to apply for a new passport via the London, Belfast or Edinburgh consulate please refer to this link for further guidance on what to bring with you.

Canadian Citizens will also need to apply for a new passport please refer to the following link on the Canadian Embassy site. We recommend you seek specific guidance on any immigration or visa issues.

Portuguese Citizens can book an appointment with the Portuguese Consulate in London online. You will then need to take your marriage certificate, birth certificate, and current passport to your scheduled appointment.

Swiss Nationals - The first step is to notify the embassy of your marriage, depending on where it took place, there is a questionnaire for example that needs to be completed if your marriage took place in the UK to a non-Swiss National. We recommend you take some time to review the guidance before applying for a new passport to be issued.

French Nationals - Different processes apply depending on whether your marriage will take place in France or in the UK. A marriage must be registered with the French consulate (in some cases before the event) before a new passport can be issued. For further information, please refer to the guidance issued by the French consulate.

Brazilian Nationals wishing to update their passport with their new name, will first need to register your marriage at the Brazilian consulate and then apply for a change of name. Once this has been done, the consulate should be able to advise you on how to change or update your current passport with your new name. You can find further guidance on the steps you need to take and the supporting documentation you will need to provide here.

Changing your name on your UK driver’s licence and other documents requires you to have a UK address as a) it is required by companies to have your account with them associated with an address and b) someone needs to be able to receive the amended documents (e.g., driver’s licence, passport, bank cards etc. In short, to change your name in the UK, you need to be based here for at least part of the year.

Changing your name after Marriage

Under UK law, if you get married to a UK national in your home country, you do not need to register your marriage in the UK as well. However, as a general rule of thumb, consulates will require that you register your marriage with them, especially if you want to update your passport. Please see above for high level guidance and links to key consulate pages, most of which apply for other name change reasons such as divorce. Note NameSwitch does not provide legal or immigration advice – this blog guide is merely a starting point to give you the basics.

Updating key documents after changing your name upon getting married here in the UK is, however, necessary. The married surname that you can choose is fairly flexible. You can take on your partner’s surname or they can take on yours, or you can both take each other’s surname in the form of a double barrel (e.g., Smith and Jones becomes Smith-Jones). You can even merge your surnames if you wish.

Other countries have differing traditions with regards to changing names, for example in Spanish or Hispanic American customs, albeit slightly different per country are largely focussed around persevering the maternal surname: Apellido Materno

Couples need to look at both traditions before determining the combination that will be bridge both cultures – having two differing names across two passports is not impossible but will cause some confusion in day to day lives (the same goes for ladies wishing to keep their maiden name professionally and adopt their spouses surname personally).

Timescales for changing your name as a non-UK national

If you wish to perform a name change after getting married, divorced, gender reassignment or deed poll you can take as little or as much time as you like as there is no legal timeframe in which you must take action. Some people choose to start the name change process immediately while others wait for a passport renewal date before taking action. Some, who we affectionately refer to as ‘Tina the Inbetweener’, will do a bit of both. You should change your name in an order and sequence that makes sense to you personally, however we strongly recommend prioritising at least one formal piece of identification i.e. Drivers Licence or Passport.

If you want to be well-prepared, you can always start planning the name change process ahead of your wedding (or divorce), the documents we produce are not dated - but note you won’t be able to begin sending out your change of name letters & forms gained through NameSwitch until you have your legal document to hand.

Informing companies and government bodies after changing your name

Once you have your legal documentation to hand (marriage certificate, deed poll, gender recognition certificate or decree absolute) you can get the ball rolling. It is your responsibility to notify any necessary government bodies and companies such as your bank, mortgage provider, credit card companies, and utility companies, and request that they amend their records to reflect your new name. Please note that you may be asked to provide either the original legal document or a copy of it as proof of your name change.

If the thought of having to compile a lengthy list of organisations that you’ll need to notify fills you with dread, why not use NameSwitch to make the process simpler and easier? Provided that you are a non-UK national, living in the UK with an associated address and accounts, all you need to do is hit the switch and we'll equip you with all you need to let everyone know!

Combining surnames

We briefly mentioned earlier that some couples wish to combine their surnames upon getting married in the UK, and you are perfectly entitled to do this. Alternatively, you may simply wish to use both of your surnames which is also possible, even if your native country uses male and female versions of surnames (e.g. Pavelka versus Pavelkova), as is the case in the Czech Republic, for example.

The person who is the non-UK national will need to notify government bodies and companies that are associated with them to ask them to update their records. They will also need to update their passport and register the marriage via their embassy. In the case of Czech Republic citizens, you can find details of the Czech Republic Embassy in London here.

For the partner of the non-UK national, taking on the additional surname will require a deed poll. You can either apply for a deed poll directly or seek further assistance from a specialist company. Many people find that http://www.deedpoll.org.uk/ is an excellent resource.

We always recommend that if changing your name requires a deed poll that you request between three and five official copies of the document so that you can notify multiple companies simultaneously of your name change. You may find our Helpful Guide to Determine When a Deed Poll is Needed to Legally Change your Name useful.

How NameSwitch can help non-UK nationals with the name change process

While regrettably, we cannot offer any legal or immigration advice, we would be delighted to help you through the name changing maze, and we offer a range of packages to suit all needs and budgets.

In less than twenty minutes and in just three simple steps, we can help you identify which UK companies and government bodies you’ll need to advise about your name change. We also only require you to enter your personal details once as our unique automation software completes the forms on your behalf. All you then need to do is download, sign and send off your personalised letters and documents.

We’re here to help answer any specific queries that you might have regarding changing your name as a non-UK national, so please feel free to get in touch and we will do our best to help guide you. You may find our FAQ's and How it Works Demo Video useful too.

You can get the ball rolling right now by picking your preferred package from as little as £29.95. Plus, we can even provide you with a free name change checklist!