Changing a child's name by Deed Poll
Changing a child's name is a relatively simple process. Provided everyone with Parental Responsibility gives their consent a parent can apply for a 'Deed Poll', which is a legal document that provides proof that a child's name has changed. This document can then be used to get all official records updated and the child's passport amended to show their new name.
Any part of a child's name can be changed, and names can be removed or added providing that the change is not being carried out for fraudulent or deceitful purposes. Before making any applications we strongly advise that you read the information below thoroughly.
- Children aged 16 to 18
- Children under the age of 16
- Parental Responsibility
- Letters of Consent
- Changing a child's name on their passport
- Changing a name on a birth certificate
- Changing a child's name upon adoption
Children between the age of 16 and 18, must apply for their own Deed Poll, and do not need to seek the consent of those holding parental responsibility for them.
For children under the age of 16, a person holding parental responsibility for the child must apply for the Deed Poll. In order for the document to be accepted by professional bodies such as the passport office, it is necessary for all those holding parental responsibility to give their consent to the name change.
The permission of children under 16 does not need to be obtained for a change of name. However, if a child objects to the change, it is possible for them to apply for a court order to prevent the change. The court will only accept if it is satisfied that the child has a full understanding of what is involved.
Parental Responsibility means having all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority that go with being a parent. Those with parental responsibility have a duty to care for and protect their child and have a right to make decisions regarding that child's future.
Since all those holding parental responsibility must agree to a change of name of a child, it is essential to know exactly who holds parental responsibility for a child. The mother of the child automatically gains parental responsibility when the child is born and it can only be removed by the court. If she is married to the child's father, he too will automatically have parental responsibility. If the father is not married to the mother various factors will determine whether or not he holds parental responsibility.
If a father holding parental responsibility refuses to give his consent to change his child's name, the only thing a mother can do is to apply to the courts for leave (permission) to change the child's name. The courts will then decide if it is in the best interests of the child for his/her name to be changed. With older children their feelings can be an important influence on the courts decision as to whether or not to grant
When you have executed your child's Deed Poll you will need to send it to all organisations whose records need to be updated. You will also often need to enclose a letter of consent confirming that all those with parental responsibility have agreed to the name change. Official record holders such as the Passport Office will require sight of such a letter before changing their records to show your child's new name. To view our example letters of consent see our page Letters of Consent.
We do not require you to send us a letter of consent before issuing a Deed Poll but you should enclose one when notifying relevant bodies of your child's name change as many organisations will expect one.
To change your child's name on their passport you will first need to apply for a Deed Poll document to be drafted up for your child. You can then send the Deed Poll to the Passport Office asking them to issue a new passport in your child's new name. You will need to include a letter of consent proving that all those with parental responsibility have agreed to the name change.
Please note that previously the Passport Office included children on a parental guardian's passport. This has now changed and babies and children up to 16 who are not already on a parent's or guardian's passport must have their own child passport if they are going to travel abroad.
In most situations it is not possible to change a child's name on a birth certificate since it is a historical record of the facts as they existed at the time of birth. However, if the details of the child's father have not been registered, they can normally be added and the child's surname can be changed accordingly. If you are unable to change the birth certificate, the easiest way to officially change a child's name is by applying for a Deed Poll which allows your child to be legally known by a different name.
However, in the few circumstances that you can get your child's birth certificate details amended a new document will be issued by the Register Office. In such cases it is obviously not necessary to apply for a Deed Poll. The new birth certificate will be accepted by all organisations as suitable documentary evidence of a change of name, allowing records and documents to be changed to show your child's new name.
The law regarding changing the details on a birth certificate differs greatly according to the country a child's birth was registered in.
When a child is adopted their surname will change to that of the new parents. Changing the first name of a child is not usually advisable as it can lead to problems. For example, children over six moths old will have learnt to recognise and respond to a particular name and will be confused.
The adopters will get an adoption certificate from the General Register Office which shows the child's new name and the adopters as their parents. This certificate then takes the place of a birth certificate and therefore no Deed Poll is required for the change of surname. When the child reaches 18 years of age, they are entitled to a copy of the original birth certificate. This will show their original name, as well as the address the birth parents were living at when the birth was registered.
To change your name...
- Fill in our online application form
- Receive your Deed Poll in the post
- Sign and date your Deed Poll
- Update records into your new name
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