NameSwitch Guide Series
If you are changing your first, middle or surname or any combination of, high up on your list is to update your British passport– especially if you’re planning to go abroad.
Passports are often used as a formal piece of identification, so it needs to reflect your official name. It’s essential to keep this document up to date.
Because it’s such a formal document, the process to get it changed can be a bit confusing and we’re often asked questions about how to do it. This rather long yet comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know.
Before we dive in, here are two key pieces of information you need to know:
If you’re not a UK national, check out our Name Change Guidance for Non-UK Nationals to help make things official with your native government.
Do I need to Apply for a New Passport?
If you currently hold a British passport, changing your name means a new one will have to be issued. The process for doing this is called ‘Passport Renewal’.
Unfortunately, the Passport Office will charge you the full price to change your name so make sure you budget for this.
It costs £82.50 to renew or replace your passport online, or £93.00 via the paper form. You have to pay another £9.50 if you want to use the Post Office’s Passport Check and Send service too, which you can do at larger post office branches.
The Check and Send service can be extremely helpful. It ensures there are no faults on your application. And it can often mean your passport is returned sooner because it goes through the application verification process more speedily. If you send an application with an error you may need to provide a written statement explaining the error or in some cases may have to pay the full application fee to apply again.
You can renew your passport either online or via the post, and there’s a detailed guide to completing your application on the gov.uk website.
If you want to apply online you can only do it on the official UK Government website. The UK Government has improved the online process making it so much more straight forward.
You will need to upload new digital photos with your application. The guidelines are very specific so have a look at what’s accepted and what’s not here.
You’ll also need to send off your old passport together with proof that you’ve changed your name. This could be your original marriage certificate, civil partnership registration, decree absolute, or deed poll.
Be aware the decree absolutes don’t always include a maiden name. If this affects your application you’ll need to send your original marriage certificate or birth certificate too.
If you’ve used a deed poll to change your name you’ll need to include another document in your new name like a bank statement, driving licence or utility bill that shows ‘proof of use’ in your new name. Check out our Deed Poll packages here.
At the end of your application, they’ll give you an application reference number and details of the passport office where you need to send your old passport and supporting documents to.
Applying by Post
If you can’t do your application online, or you’d just rather to do it by hand, you can submit your application by post.
The first thing you’ll need to do is visit your nearest large Post Office to get a Passport Renewal form (smaller Post Office’s don’t stock them). Once you’ve completed your form, you need to post it with your supporting documents, two photos, and your fee using the envelope supplied with the form.
Don’t forget to include enough postage as the envelopes aren’t pre-paid! It’s a good idea to include a self-addressed special delivery envelope (you can get these from the post office) to make sure your original documents come back to you safely.
If you have purchased a NameSwitch toolkit to help you with your name change, we’ll include a passport renewal form in the Print Package that is dispatched to your home address (as well as detailed, step by step guidance to complete your application).
What do I do if I need my Passport in a Hurry?
If you suddenly find yourself in a situation where you urgently need a new passport, there are two options:
The Online Premium service typically means you’ll get your passport at your appointment, and appointments can last up to 30 minutes. You’ll need to book your appointment, submit your application and pay for your passport all online. You’ll then be given a face-to-face appointment to present your supporting documents and collect your new passport. Be sure to prepare all documents you need before your appointment including your original marriage certificate/decree absolute/deed poll/gender reassignment certificate. The earliest you can get your new passport from your initial application is 2 days.
There are seven Passport Customer Services Centres in the UK at the following locations: Belfast, Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Newport and Peterborough.
Alternatively, you could use the 1 week fast-track service which costs less than the Premium service but is faster than the standard process. Here’s how it works:
To find out more and book an appointment for either service please visit https://www.gov.uk/get-a-passport-urgently
NameSwitch top tip! Before you visit the passport office for your 1-week fast track appointment, go to your local post office with your completed passport renewal form. Request a passport check (part of the £9.50 Check and Send service). The eagle-eyed folks at the post office can spot anomalies in seconds and will give you the peace of mind that your trip to the passport office (and most likely time off work) will not be in vain!
A word of warning: whilst these fast-track options are appealing it is important to consider the current climate which can impact how soon you are able to get an appointment. Summer season, strikes and backlogs can significantly affect the availability of appointments so it’s best to allow for extra time. It’s also prudent to not book any travel in your new name until your passport has been issued.
I’m Getting Married and I Need to Renew My Passport
Most people leave changing their passport until after they are married and will jet off on honeymoon using their original passport and name.
Many start the name change process immediately after the big day, while others wait for a passport renewal date before acting. You should change your name with government bodies and companies 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. driver’s licence or passport.
It is possible to apply for a Post Dated Passport (PD2) before marriage for those who are keen to jet off on honeymoon with their shiny new passport and name. To find out more please refer to our blog on Honeymooning in your Married Name to determine if a PD2 can be applied for in your particular case.
I’m changing my name after marriage but still want to use my maiden name professionally
Changing to your married name in your personal life and keeping your maiden name in your professional life is a perfectly legal and valid option after marriage.
But you should change at least one piece of formal ID - either your driving licence or your passport with your new name. You can opt to update both into your new name if you want to.
If you choose to change your passport to your married name, you can make an observation request in section 8 of your passport renewal application form to have it noted that you use your maiden/birth name professionally.
Be aware that you will not be able to travel in your ‘observed’ name as it is for identification and not border control purposes.
It’s crucial to align your passport name (maiden or new) with your NHS record so they match with any vaccination records that would be needed when you travel overseas.
The same approach would apply for a divorcee or if you’ve undergone a gender reassignment - if you want it to, a statement and observation can also be made using the same method.
We hope that our Guide to Changing your Name on your Passport will make the passport renewal process easier for you to navigate.
The average name changer notifies approximately 24 different government bodies, local authorities, and companies. Figuring out who needs what can be daunting and takes 14 hours on average! Most name changers find this process tedious and overly complicated. If you want a helping hand, why not check out our affordable packages to fast track to your new name, officially everywhere.
The average name changer notifies approximately 24 different government bodies, local authorities, and companies. Figuring out who needs what can be daunting and takes 14 hours on average! Most name changers find this process tedious and overly complicated.
NameSwitch has created a UK first and only award-winning namechange toolkit to help simplify this process. Change your name with speed and ease saving you so much time and with peace of mind that you’ll get it right first time.
In just 3 easy steps you can select who you need to notify from 700 government bodies, local authorities, and companies. You only need to enter your details once. You’ll have instant access to download your pre-populated name change letters, forms and personalised instructions ready for you to print and sign.
Dive into our practical Nameswitch guides.
Learn how to change your name on your drivers licence, on your Facebook account and how to handle updating your COVID pass along with your passport
Get your free name-change checklist to help you plan out all of the companies, government bodies and profiles you need to notify of your new name.