We have already covered how to change your name simply by Deed Poll in a previous blog, which you can read HERE… but the question here is “Do you need to register a change of name with the courts”.
The answer is no, you don’t.
There is no central identity register in the UK and with regards to the law, your new name can be legally established, simply by using it. The deed poll document is simply evidence of your using that name from a certain date. When you get married, the marriage certificate records your new name (if you decide to take on a new name), and you acquire your new name by starting to use that name. When you change your name you must formally document it in some way and this document can be a deed poll or marriage certificate.
You really do not need to involve a solicitor in the process of changing your name and in fact, the enrollment process (which doesn’t need to happen) – just makes changing your name “feel” more official and that you needed to engage (and pay) a solicitor. In most cases, it could be a case of “money for old rope”. We do hope that solicitors inform their clients that they can change their name very simply themselves.
If you are getting divorced you may not need a deed poll if you want to revert back to your birth name. You could show the following documents:
- Your UK divorce document – decree absolute
- your original marriage certificate
- your original birth certificate
- and a signed statement from yourself confirming that you are going to be using your maiden name from now on.
It is normal that you may need to show a couple or all of the above documents to change your name, because since 1971, divorce documents do not show the link between your married name and maiden name. If you don’t have all of these documents or the originals, then it may be easier to change your name by deed poll. You can then of course change your name before your divorce is finalised.
If you want to change your name to one which wasn’t your birth name, then you will need to change your name by deed poll.
Changing your social title
If you want to change your social title from Mrs to Ms, Miss or the gender neutral title of Mx, there is absolutely no need to do this formally as these titles are only used as a matter of courtesy and not mentioned on documents such as your passport.
However, titles of British Nobility are considered part of your identity and HM Passport Office will use it on your passport. So, if you are a member of the House of Lords (and this includes archbishops and bishops and wives and families) or a baronet or holder of a knighthood (and their wives) or a baronetess or a dame, your title is part of your name.
Do you need to enroll or register your deed poll?
If you really want to, it is possible to enroll your deed poll but this process is completely optional. Enrolling your deed poll is a very old-fashioned safe-keeping service run by the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
There are many reasons why you should maybe NOT enroll your deed poll
- HM Passport Office and other government bodies accept both enrolled and non-enrolled deed polls – so why bother?
- Enrolling your deed poll is more difficult and you will probably need to involve a solicitor (so again, why bother when you don’t need to)
- Enrolling your deed poll will mean that you have to pay for a solicitor to deal with the paperwork and there is a an additional fee for the actual “enrollment”
- Enrolling your deed poll is much slower; it can take around 3 months which seems like a waster of time when an unenrolled deed poll can be use immediately to show that you have changed your name
- Your personal details, including your old name, new name and home address will be on public record including on the Gazette website which is a privacy concern. There is nothing to stop unsavoury characters or businesses trawling through these pages and finding out where divorced people live, as these records also state “Divorced/Civil Partnership dissolved” as a status.
Enrolling is purely optional and this fact was made very clear by Justice Holman (Re PC (Change of Surname)  2 FLR 730) “Enrolment of a deed poll is not a prerequisite to a change of surname and merely evidences a change in a particularly formal way.”
Lord Justice Ormrod, in the case of D v B (orse D) (Surname: Birth Registration)  Fam 38, held that “the purpose of enrolment is only evidential and formal. A deed poll is just as effective or ineffective whether it is enrolled or not; the only point of enrolment is that it will provide unquestionable proof [that the deed poll has been executed], if proof is required. No more.”
If you still decide to enroll your deed poll, it means that a copy of your deed poll will be kept in the Enrolment Books at the Senior Courts of England & Wales, at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. They are kept there for 5-10 years and after that, they are then taken to the National Archives at Kew in Surrey.
Your old name and new name and home address will be put on public record as they will be advertised in the London Gazette and on the Gazette website.
Enrolling your deed poll doesn’t mean that your change of name is “more official” and it also doesn’t effect the legal status of your name in any way. It just means that you have made a permanent and very public record of your name change.
Maybe you simply want to print off the record in London Gazette to frame it for your toilet wall….
So, why do people bother to enroll when they don’t need to?
- Well, as above, they may want to print their entry in the London Gazette and hang it on the wall.
- They feel that they have changed their name officially or correctly if they have paid to do it
- Some may feel that they want to publicly announce that they have given up their married name as the enrollment will appear on the web version of the London Gazette. They use the “announcement” to get revenge on their ex.
For us, enrolling your deed poll is a complete waste of time and money. Also, your new and old name and home address will be published on the internet forever. Do you really want that?The Group Hug