Choosing your new name
There are no set laws in the United Kingdom relating to unsuitable names and therefore, to an extent you can choose to go by whichever name you wish to. However, there are certain restrictions we enforce regarding what you can change your name to. This is done, in order to ensure that the Passport Office will accept your change of name without any problems.
By Deed Poll you can officially change any part of your forenames or surname, or even your entire name. This means you can choose to change your forename, middle names and surname as well as being able to add or remove names. You can also rearrange current forenames or alter spellings. However, the new name that you wish to use must not challenge any of the points below.
Your application will not be accepted for a name that:
- Is impossible to pronounce
- Includes numbers/symbols
- Includes punctuation marks, although hyphens to link forenames or surnames are accepted (double barrel names). Apostrophes are accepted in the case of surnames such as O'Sullivan.
- Does not include both a surname and a forename
- We consider to be offensive
In short, copyright and trademark protection of peoples' names does not exist. Names, along with titles, short phrases, and colours, are considered to be too insubstantial and common to be awarded copyright protection in their own right.
The logic behind this is that if it were not the case, producing any kind of document would prove almost impossible since so many words would be prohibited from use. For example, if a particular one worded title of a novel had copyright protection in its own right, this would prevent its use in countless circumstances. In addition, since copyright forbids unauthorised adaptation, any use of derived words, such as plurals, may also be prohibited. Under such laws no one would ever be able to use the word in a document.
Therefore, you can choose to call yourself any name you wish, the condition being that you do not deliberately try to pass yourself off as somebody else for fraudulent purposes. For example, if you decided to call yourself Joanne Kathleen Rowling, and began to publish books in that name, you would probably find yourself subject to legal action by the author J K Rowling for passing yourself off as her!
We often issue Deed Polls to people who want to have a funny name! There are no special restrictions regarding these kinds of names, as long as they meet the criteria that are laid out above. For example, people have been known to change their names to 'Tom And Jerry', 'Smoky Mirror' and 'Ken Tucky'!
If you are considering a funny name and belong to a professional body, you should probably check with them first to ensure there will be no problems registering your new name with them. In some industries a funny name may not be appreciated. The National Society of Accountants might object to an accountant being called Scooby Doo!
Please note that if your request challenges any of the above restrictions we can refuse to issue you with a Deed Poll. On these rare occasions payments will be refunded and we will suggest that you choose a different name. We advise that you take note of these limitations when making your application.
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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