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Changing your name on your British passport is not a complex process in most cases. The biggest hurdle is when your identity documents don’t match up. This article will give you a step-by-step outline for updating your UK Passport.
Your identity is spread across a number of documents which are often in more than one country. Even something like dropping your middle name can have unexpected consequences if you do not take the appropriate steps to ensure your new name is recorded in every document, such as various forms of personal ID or banking information, that holds your identity.
For Marriage Reasons:
For most people it’s because of marriage or divorce that they need to update their documents. Once you have your marriage certficate and/or divorce documents, it is relatively straightforward to update all of your other documents. The trick is to start with a federal document such as your Passport and then simply move on to smaller documents like your driving licence. Keep reading this article to find out what to do.
For all other reasons:
For everyone else, the process involved is more complex than what we will address here.
The key mistake you have to avoid is having different names on different documents. Having a different name – even something as simple as leaving out your middle name from your birth certificate – means that when you travel or apply for a new passport, for example, you’ll possibly encounter problems as authorities try to determine whether you are who you say you are.
You need to understand that inconsistencies in your name (even minor mistakes in spelling) between different documents can often be a red flag for authorities, especially for something as important as a passport. So, when changing your name, you need to your do the same on all your other identification documents to ensure that they show the same new name as your passport does. This will become clear as we guide you through the process of changing your name on your passport and show you what supporting documents you’ll need to provide in each case.
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Terms you need to know to:
Deed Poll: this is a document you can also obtain through any consulate or embassy and is used when you don’t have a legal document like a marriage certificate or divorce papers to support your name change. HM Passport Office will sometimes require this document but you don’t often need a deed poll; it depends on your situation.
Post-dated Passport: This is when you apply in advance, so your passport in your married name will be available as soon as you are married. In other words, it’s date of issue is post-dated like a cheque to your wedding day.
Civil parternship: A union of two people through a civil ceremony at a local government office. It is legally binding like any other wedding.
Change of name certficate: This document is available in Canada (and Australia) and varies slightly from province to province. For example, in BC it is called a Certificate of Change of Name, and lists your old and your new name, but cannot be used when taking a spouse’s last name. You apply to the Vital Statistics Agency and the cost is $27. In Alberta, it is called a Legal Change of Name Certificate. You fill out the application form and take it to a Registry Agent along with ID and pay $20. In Ontario, it’s called a Change of Name Certificate and is done through ServiceOntario at a cost of $137. If you were born in Ontario, you will also receive an updated birth certificate. If you were born in another province, ServiceOntario will notify the Vital Statistics Agency of that province but you must apply directly to your birth province’s vital statistics office to get an updated birth certificate.
How to change your name on a British passport?
When changing your legal name, you must cancel your current British Passport and apply for a new one. Your new UK passport will be valid for 10 years from the date of issue. Any remaining years on your cancelled passport will not be added to your new passport.
There are a number of situations that result in a legal change of name:
- When there is no official evidence like a marriage cerfiticate or a divorce papers, you use a deed of change of name, commonly known as a deed poll. A deed poll does not have to be witnessed by a solicitor, it can be someone who knows you, is at least 18, and does not have an intimate or familiar relationship with you. However, if you need your deed poll to be legalised with an apostille, it’s best to use a solicitor or notary public as a witness.
- A deed poll is considered the gold standard as far as supporting documents for of change of name.
- Some are instead done by a statutory declaration which is a written statement of fact (for example detailing your name change) and in Britain must be signed in the presence of one of the following:
- A Solicitor
- A Notary of the Public
- A Justice of the Peace
- A Commissioner for Oaths
- A Councillor (only in Scotland)
- Other qualified officials including Officers of the rank of Major and above, Lieutenant Commander and above, or Squadron Leader and above; as well as British Diplomatic and Consular Officers abroad
- In Canada a statutory declaration can be witnessed by:
- A Notary Public
- A Lawyer
- A Justice of the Peace
- A Commissioner of Oaths
When submitting your passport application form, the documentation required by British Identity & Passport Service (also known as the Passport Office) depends on what caused the name change.
Marriage or Civil Partnership change of name on a UK Passport
- A certificate of marriage or a certificate of civil partnership is required by the Passport Office when applying for your new passport. You do not normally need a deed poll in this case.
- You can apply for your new passport up to 3 months before your marriage or civil partnership. However, your new passport will only become valid on the day of your marriage/civil partnership.
- If you wish to apply in advance for your new passport, you will also need to include what is called: Passports for newlyweds and civil partners: application form. You can go to this HM Passport Office webpage and click on the links to download the form and to download a guide.
- You should check with foreign consulates to see if they will place any required visa in your post-dated passport. Some countries may refuse to put a visa in a post-dated passport. For example, if you’re planning to travel on your honeymoon right after your wedding or civil ceremony, make sure you find out beforehand whether you can get any required visa in your post-dated passport.
- Finally, always ensure that you book any travel done once you are married, such as honeymoons, in your new name. This will avoid any problems with authorities abroad.
How to change your name in your UK Passport after a Divorce or Dissolution of Civil Partnership?
- Enclose your decree absolute certificate (UK) or divorce papers (Canada, USA) showing both names (before and after) in your application for a new passport. Your new passport will automatically revert to your former name. You do NOT need a deed poll in this case.
- In addition to your decree absolute certificate showing both names, you need to send the following:
- Your birth certificate,
- A signed statement saying you will use your previous surname “for all purposes”
- A document showing your previous surname, such as a payslip or letter from your local council
- Your marriage certificate showing both names
- However, other institutions – like banks, for example – may require you to complete a deed poll to update their records. Check with all the institutions you are required to notify of your name change.
When do you need a deed poll to change your name on a UK Passport?
- UK law allows you to change any or all of your names without needing permission from any authority as long as this is not done for fraudulent reasons. There does not need to be a marriage or divorce or any other legal event. The Passport Office requires an original or certified copy of your deed poll in this case.
- To get a deed poll document you must:
- Be at least 16 years old and of “mental capacity”
- If you are a British National living in the UK, there are no further restrictions
- To get a deed poll document you must:
- If you are a British National living overseas, you may also be required to provide other documents like bank statements or utility bills showing your new name
- If you are a dual national, check with your foreign country if they will recognise a name change executed by deed poll.
There are two ways to get a deed poll:
- Unenrolled deed poll – you do this yourself. Here is a government template:
I [old name] of [your address] have given up my name [old name] and have adopted for all purposes the name [new name].
Signed as a deed on [date] as [old name] and [new name] in the presence of [witness 1 name] of [witness 1 address], and [witness 2 name] of [witness 2 address].
[your new signature], [your old signature]
[witness 1 signature], [witness 2 signature]
- Enrolled deed poll – you apply for this and as it puts your new name on the public record, it’s recommended you use this with other legal documents. Essentially, you enrol your deed poll with the royal courts of justice. The fee is £42.44, so you should include a cheque for this amount. Go to this government webpage to download the forms and guidance. You should download form LOC020 – Change of Name Deed (for an adult) as well as the guidance and the notices for the London Gazette. We suggest downloading the pack – form LOC019 – Deed Poll Pack, which includes all of the above. Send your application to:
Queen’s Bench Division
The Royal Courts of Justice
- To get a deed poll document, you must fill in and then sign the document in the presence of a witness. You are essentially declaring that you will use your new name for all purposes.
- If you are British living in the UK, you do not need a solicitor as a witness. The witness must only be over 18, know you personally, not be a family member or in a close relationship like a marriage, civil partnership, or a romantic relationship.
- If you are British and living overseas, you should use a lawyer, notary, or British Embassy official as a witness to your deed poll.
- If you have permanent resident status (or settled status) and are living overseas, you cannot change your name by deed poll.
You should also notify all the other institutions that must change their records to reflect your new legal name. This includes: government departments that deal with matters like pensions, taxes, or your driving licence; banks and credit unions; investment funds; or any other organizations you may belong to. Courts may accept a list of some rather than all the institutions you deal with but it’s best to notify as many as possible of your name change.
- Gender Change: Please include the following documents:
- Your Gender Recognition Certificate obtained from the Gender Recognition Panel, OR
- A new birth certificate or adoptions certificate showing your new gender, OR
- A letter from your doctor or medical consultant that confirms your change of gender is expected to be permanent, along with a deed poll and document like a payslip showing your new name
- You can also change your name as follows:
- A slight change in the spelling of your name – for example Ann to Anne
- A change in the order of your forenames – for example: Michael Phillip Salmon Fishhook to Michael Salmon Phillip Fishhook
- You can remove middle names – for example: Michael Phillip Salmon Fishhook to Michael Phillip Fishhook
- For these type of name changes, send 2 of the following documents:
- A letter from your local council or a government department showing your new name
- A driving licence showing your new name
- A bank statement showing your new name
- A baptism or confirmation certificate showing your new name
- For these type of name changes, send 2 of the following documents:
- Finally, you can add the following types of titles to your name:
- Professional titles such as: doctor, judge, minister of religion, professor, QC, or JP
- Honours or military decorations
- Write the title in the “other title” box of the application and enclose evidence of your title.
- Unless your title indicates nobility, it will be placed on the observations page of your new passport.
How to change your name on a UK Passport beause of a separation?
If you have separated from your spouse/partner but are not yet divorced – in other words you do not have your divorce papers in Canada or the US, or a decree absolute in the UK – and you want to revert to your former name, you will need to get a Name Change Certificate (Canada) or a decree poll, and then apply for a new passport in your former name. If you do not obtain a Name Change Certificate or a decree poll, your passport will remain in your married name. Remember that you can get a deed poll if you’re living overseas by applying through your nearest consulate.
For UK citizens residing abroad, you should always check with local authorities if they will accept a deed poll as legal proof of a change of name.
Your birth certficate does not match your UK Passport.
First UK Passport in a different name from your Birth Certificate: If you wish to use a name that is not the same as that on your birth certificate you must get a deed poll in the name you wish to use and then apply for your first UK passport. When filling in the deed of change of name (deed poll), write the name on your birth certificate as your current name and write the name you now use and want on your passport as your new name.
If you were born abroad, in Canada for example, make sure you apply for your UK Passport using the same name as on your Canadian documents, especially your Canadian passport.
Find out How to Apply for your new Passport.
The final step is applying for your new passport having gathered the required documentation. For a step-by-step guide go here to our webpage showing how to apply for a new British passport.
Tip: Are you living outside of the United Kingdom and need to update your British Passport? Check out our do-it-yourself guide.
Multiple nationaliy: Can I have two passports with different names?
No, you can’t. If for example, you drop your middle name found on your birth certificate and just use your first and last names on your Canadian passport, the Passport Office will usually reject your application because your other Canadian ID documents won’t match your Canadian Passport. The easiest solution is to change your name on your Canadian passport so it matches your other ID documents, and then apply for your first UK passport using a Statutory Declaration to account for your name change.
If on the other hand, your other Canadian ID documents match the simplified name change on your Canadian passport, you can go ahead and file a Statutory Declaration to account for your name change when applying for your passport.
What happens if there is a mistake on the name on my Birth Certificate that can’t be corrected?
You will have to file a change of name application. Most countries have a process for this. Check your local Vital Statistics website.
How much does it cost to change your name on your UK Passport?
In Canada: prices range depending on the province your resident of: On avarge it’s CDN$130
In the United States: price range depending on the state you are in: Varies from $50 to $300.
In the United Kingdome: £75.50. To apply on paper (through the Post Office) the cost is £85. Furthermore, if you are also required to apply for an enrolled deed poll, you must pay £42.44 to the Royal Courts. You may also have to pay a fee to any solicitor, other legal official, or agency who witnesses your deed poll.
What if I don’t change the name on my passport, what can happen?
The problem is, you might find yourself having to desperately send for additional documents to prove you’re who you say you are. However, if your name change is due to marriage, you might be able to travel without any problems, as long as you use the same name as in your passport when reserving your flight and booking hotels etc. For just a simple vacation, the immigration authorities will likely not even know whether you’re married. Still, understand that you are taking a risk.
Do I have to change my name on my UK Passport after getting married?
Your name does not automatically change upon getting married. You choose your married name and if it remains identical to what you used before getting married, then you won’t have to apply for a name change. Changing your marital status in and of itself does not require a new passport, as long as your name remains identical.
Can I use my UK Passport with my maiden name after getting married?
Again, it depends on whether your married name is the same as your maiden name. If it is, then you can continue to use your British passport. If you do change your name, then you should apply for a new passport in your married name.
Can I change back to my maiden name without a divorce in the UK?
Yes, you can. However, you will have to get a deed poll, as you won’t have a supporting document such as a decree absolute.
Is there a deadline to changing your name after getting married in the UK?
There is no time limit to changing your name after getting married.
Can you travel with your old passport after name change?
There’s always the risk that your new name will show up on some official’s computer screen and you will have to explain why it doesn’t match your passport’s name. For short vacations, you may get away with it with no problems. But the risk is always there. Imagine not being able to board your flight because you booked your flight under your new name while your passport is in your old name.
What name am I allowed to put on my first UK Passport
When applying for your first UK passport, your birth certficate, registration certificate, or naturalisation certificate will normally be used to establish your name. However, if you have since changed your name you will have to provide additional supporting documents to help establish your new name, especially if you have another passport – like a Canadian or American passport.
The authorities try to respect people’s choice of names as much as possible, but you might find some names rejected (even if it is legal in your country of residence) if it’s outrageous, offensive, or promotes unlawful activity. In other words, unless you have a really provocative name, you should be fine.