Tuesday 18 February 2020

Get A Different Name Day and Changing a child’s surname.

I think it was last week or the week before, in the United States it was one of those out of the ordinary National Days. "Get A Different Name Day". It gave me the idea to write this blog post. I haven't changed my name but Becky has, legally by deed poll.

When Becky was born her biological father and I registered her name together. She took his surname. We were supposed to be together forever but things don't always work out like that. Becky was fine with her biological father's surname when she was little but after Ellie was born she started to notice that her sister and Stu had the same name and she didn't.

In case you didn't know Stu is not Becky's biological father, he has been in her life since just before she was 4 years old. I'm not going to go deeply into why Becky's biological father isn't in her life but he does want it known that he had other commitments when Becky was little. Having 2 other children with his new partner then dealing with her having cancer. Now Becky is a teenager she has chosen not to want contact for various reasons but I am in touch with him and keep him informed about his daughter. Anyway, I digress. 

Becky has been calling Stu Dad since just after Ellie was born and started to realise the difference in surnames more when Ellie started school. We decided that if she wanted to change her name by deed poll she could when she was a teenager.

When Becky was at primary school we told the school we were thinking about changing Becky's name by deed poll and they said she could just use a "known as" name. They would use the new surname instead of the old one and for a few years we carried on like that. It was only when Becky started picking her GCSE options we thought we should do something more official so she could go into her adult life with her new surname. 

The most commonly used and effective process for legally changing a name in the UK is by deed poll. A deed poll is a legal document that proves the change of name and it can be used as evidence of your new title for the purposes of amending your passport, driving licence and other official documents. To apply for a deed poll you just go online, spend 10 to 15 minutes filling in an online form and then pay your money. You wait for your documents to be processed and come through. When the documents arrive you have to sign them in front of a witness, send them back and that’s it, it's done.

When changing a child's name you need the consent of each person with parental responsibility for someone under the age of 16 or a court order. I was the only one who had parental responsibility for Becky so we had no issues. Even though her biological father is on the birth certificate we registered her birth before the law changed in 2003.

It was simple and straightforward to change Becky's surname. I think we paid about £30 to change it but you can change your name now from about £9.99 if a Google search is anything to go by. 

Now when Becky has to show her birth certificate for anything she has to show the deed poll forms too. We have had no problems at all. We changed all the official things like Child Benefit, tax credits, hospitals & doctors and of course we informed her school. The only issue we've ever had with the change of surname is when we moved house to Scunthorpe and the local hospital could find no record of Becky in existence. Our new doctors failed to mention she had a former surname despite us telling them. It was soon sorted out when we took her deed poll to the hospital. The only thing Becky hasn't done with her new name is get a passport. 

When you change your name the only rules are that are your new name cannot include numbers, punctuation marks other than hyphens or apostrophes or any other symbols. It must be pronounceable and you can’t go above 250 characters for a first name and 50 for a last name. There are also a few religious and legal reasons that don't allow you certain names. Things like Jesus, Saint, Satan or Lucifer aren’t allowed because they’re all considered blasphemous, any name that promotes criminal activities, promotes racial or religious hatred, ridicules people, groups, government departments, companies or organisations and so on and so on. 

If your child is 16 years of age or over (or approaching their 16th birthday) they must apply for their own Deed Poll for which parental consent is not required. I think I would worry about this. When I think of people changing their names I think of Phoebe off the TV show Friends. Does Princess Consuela Banana-Hammock ring any bells. I would fear for a teenager picking a random, wacky name like that.

Have you or your children ever changed your name by deed poll?


  1. Another thing we have in common, Kim! I had Aiden before I met Ant and Aiden was registered with my maiden name. We changed his surname when I married Ant and we had KayCee because he didn't want to have a different name to us. For years we just used the 'known by' surname for him but had to change it officially by deed poll when he came to apply for a bank account.

    1. How interesting. A known as name is great until it comes to doing official things. x

  2. This is interesting read. Never knew about this information X