Changing a name on a Birth Certificate in England and Wales

In most cases it is not possible to get the name on a birth certificate changed since it is a historical record of the facts as they existed at the time of birth. Therefore, you will usually need to apply for a Deed Poll which allows you or your child to be legally known by a different name. A Deed Poll document allows you to get all records and documents changed to your new name. If you then apply for something that requires sight of your birth certificate, for example a passport, you can simply enclose your Deed Poll along with it. The name on your Deed Poll will then override the one shown on your birth certificate.

However, in the few circumstances that you can get your own or your child's birth certificate details amended, a new document will be issued by the Register Office. In such cases it will 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 you to have your records and documents changed to your new name.

Who can change the name on a Birth Certificate?

Only the mother, father or guardian of a child can apply for a child's change of forename to be recorded: in other words, anybody with parental responsibility for the child. If the child was given the new forenames by baptism, the minister with custody of the baptismal register needs to complete a form.

To find out if you are able to change your child's name on their birth certificate please view our flowchart.

Changing a Forename

The law allows for a change to a child's forenames to be added to the birth register, provided the new forenames were given either in baptism or by regular use within the first 12 months of the birth being registered.

Forename changes may only be made once in the birth register.  If your child has been baptised within twelve months of the birth registration, only the baptismal names may be added to the register and not another name of your choice.

If the child has been given the name in baptism:

Form 13 (or form 13w for births registered in Wales) should be taken to the Vicar or Minister of the Church in which the child was baptised for them to complete (this will normally incur a small fee).  You must then return the completed form to the register office and  the amended names can be inserted into space 17 (at the end of the original birth certificate).

If your child has not been baptised:

Form 14 (or form 14w for births registered in Wales) should be completed and returned to the register office where your child's birth was registered.

If you are completing this form more than twelve months after the birth was registered you will need to provide documentary evidence of the new forename being used within the twelve months following registration.  For example, an NHS letter, a bank statement or an immunisation card showing the name in use within the first twelve months.

If you do not live in the district where the birth registration took place, you can visit any register office in England or Wales and your form will be forwarded to the appropriate office.  There is no charge for adding new names to the birth register but if you would like to have certificates showing the new forenames, they must be purchased.

The provision for giving a new forename is not intended to be used to correct an error or omission.  Where it is clear that a name was incorrectly recorded at registration the procedure for applying for a correction should be followed (see Changing a Mistake).

Changing a Surname

Depending on the marital status of the child's parents, it is sometimes possible to change the child's surname on their birth certificate.

If the parents were not married at the birth registration, and the father did not attend the registration process, it is possible to amend the birth certificate.  It can be altered to show the father's details and the child's surname can also be altered. Please note that both parents must agree to such a change.

If the parents were not married at the birth registration and the father's details were added to the birth certificate and his surname was taken by the child, the birth certificate cannot be changed.  In this situation, if the mother wanted to change her child's surname it would have to be done by Deed Poll.

If the parents of the child married after the birth registration the birth should be re-registered to show the child as a child of the parent's marriage.  The child's surname can be altered at the same time, to that of the father. The mother's name can also be changed on the birth certificate if she altered her surname upon marriage. If the child's parents double-barrelled their surnames, or combined them in some way when they got married, this name can be entered on the birth certificate for the child. In order for this to happen both parents should agree to any changes.

The most straightforward way for a birth to be re-registered is to have both of the child's parents attend the Register Office together.

Changing a Mistake

A registration of a birth is a historic record and so is intended to record the facts as they were at the time at which the registration took place.  However, if it is found that an error was made at the original registration, changes are possible. Applications for corrections should be made by the person who first registered the birth and at the same Register Office.  Depending on the circumstances, documentary evidence may be required. This should show that the child is being brought up in a different name to the one on the register and from the earliest date possible. This could be in the form of an NHS letter, a bank statement or a medical card.

Altered Birth Certificates

When applying to alter names on a Birth Certificate, you must comply with any court orders in force about the naming of your child.  To simply add new names to the birth register there is no charge but it is possible to buy certificates showing the new names.

Changing the gender on your Birth Certificate

The name and gender on your birth certificate can only be changed once your full legal status has been confirmed by the Gender Recognition Panel.

In order to apply for this you must prove that:

  1. You suffer from, or have suffered from gender dysphoria
  2. You have been living in your acquired gender for the last two years
  3. You intend on remaining in your new gender permanently

Providing your application for a Gender Recognition Certificate is successful, your amended birth certificate will be issued to show your new gender and name.

To change your name...

  1. Fill in our online application form
  2. Receive your Deed Poll in the post
  3. Sign and date your Deed Poll
  4. Update records into your new name

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