Changing a name upon forming civil partnership

The Marriage (Same sex couples) Act 2013 legalised full same sex marriage in England and Wales. Following this same sex couples can now get married, form a civil partnership or convert their civil partnership to a marriage. 

Civil Partnerships were first introduced in the United Kingdom in December of 2005 when the Civil Partnership Act 2004 was first introduced. Couples can register a civil partnership at Registry Offices and several other approved premises.

A civil partnership is a legal marriage between couples who are in same-sex relationships. Once a civil partnership is formed, those involved are entitled to similar benefits as any married couple.

There is no obligation for either partner to change their name upon forming a civil partnership, although many wish to follow the traditions of civil marriage and share a surname.  Some of the most popular options available to civil partners are described below, along with information on whether or not a Deed Poll would be necessary for the name change to take place.

The first two options available to civil partners do not require use of a Deed Poll

1. Continue using your current names

Since it is not obligatory to change your surname upon forming a civil partnership, you may both choose to continue using your current name. This allows you to maintain a link with your family name and avoids the need to choose which partner's surname to take (as in 2 below).

If you and your civil partner decide to continue using your names as they were before the civil partnership, it is not necessary to contact anyone since no personal records need to be altered.

2. Sharing one partner's surname

Many couples follow the tradition as with a civil marriage of adopting one partner's surname to share.  Having both partners operating under the same surname is the most convenient option when making financial, legal and social agreements. For example, if Jane Parker formed a civil partnership with Sarah Jones, they may choose to use Sarah's name. They would then be addressed as Jane Jones and Sarah Jones.

In order for one civil partner to change their surname to that of the other partner, a Deed Poll is not necessary. All that is needed is the civil partnership certificate along with a covering letter explaining exactly what name change is required. This will be accepted by all government bodies and organisations including the Passport Office as a legal entitlement to a change of name. Certain official authorities will require sight of an original civil partnership certificate, for example the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency). Therefore it is advisable to obtain several civil partnership certificates on the day of the ceremony so that organisations can be notified of your name change quickly and conveniently.

In following this option the partner whose name is changing must abandon their current surname. Alternatively they can continue using their current surname as a middle name. However, for this a Deed Poll must be used. For more information on this option see Section 5.

In the following cases a Deed Poll can be executed to show proof of the name change.

3. Double-barrelling the surname

The decision to double-barrel is becoming more widespread among today's couples. The civil partners' surnames are combined to form a hyphenated version. This allows both partners to maintain links to your family names, and at the same time recognises a change in your status. It also solves the dilemma of which of the two surnames to choose, while allowing you to follow the tradition of sharing a surname. 

For example, if Jane Jones married Alice Morgan, they could take the surname ‘Morgan-Jones'. Alternatively, they could use ‘Jones-Morgan', depending on their personal preference, and which combination sounded better. 

In order to double-barrel the surname, a Deed Poll can be used. The easiest way to do this is for one partner to change their surname by Deed Poll before the ceremony to the double-barrelled name that has been chosen. Then, afterwards, the second partner can use their civil partnership certificate to get their records changed into the first partner's new name, thus avoiding the need for two Deed Polls.

4. Creating a new surname (meshing)

Upon forming a civil partnership, many couples cannot decide which surname to use and so choose a new name to share. In order to do this you must both change your name by Deed Poll.

The idea of meshing is a recent one and originated in the Unites States where both partners' surnames are ‘meshed' to create a new one. For example if Jane Johnson formed a civil partnership with Sarah Francis they may mesh their surnames and use ‘Franson'.

If you decide to mesh your surnames you may also choose to continue using your previous surname as a middle name in order to maintain a link with your family name. This can easily be done at the same time since ‘meshing' of surnames requires a Deed Poll. 

5. Civil Partners who share a surname, but use their former surname as a middle name

When civil partners choose to share one of their surnames, inevitably, one of them loses their current surname. However, by using a Deed Poll you can continue using your former surname as a middle name. This allows you to maintain links with you family name while avoiding the perceptions of pretentiousness associated with having a double-barrelled name.

For example, if Jane Parker formed a civil partnership with Sarah Jones, they may choose to use Sarah's name. They would then be addressed as Jane Jones and Sarah Jones. However, they could become Jane Parker Jones and Sarah Jones. Alternatively, they could both use the middle name of Parker. They would then be referred to as Jane Parker Jones and Sarah Parker Jones. Again, this allows them to share names without having to double-barrel.

Civil partners who take either of these options will need to apply to change their name by Deed Poll. This will allow them to get their personal records changed into their new name including the name on their passport.

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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