Changing your name upon marriage

Changing your name after you get married is an old tradition that has been in practice for many years.

Usually, a wife takes her husband's surname, but the reverse of this, and many other variations are also possible including changes of title. If you wish to alter your name after marriage, the necessary steps must be followed to make the name change official. The steps taken will vary depending on the kind of name change you require.


Women: Continuing to use your maiden name

There is no legal requirement for you to change your maiden name (your surname before marriage) when you get married. This option is becoming increasingly popular as more women are establishing reputations at work with their maiden names, and want to keep them to avoid confusion. 

If you decide to continue using your name and title as they were before marriage it is not necessary to contact anyone since no personal records need to be altered.

Even if you choose not to change your surname to that of your husband, you may wish to change your title. You can change from ‘Miss' to ‘Mrs' to show that you are now married, or alternatively take the title ‘Ms' which is not indicative of any particular marital status.

Women: Taking your husband's surname

This is by far the most popular choice among today's brides, being the most traditional and easiest. Having both the husband and wife operating under the same surname is the most convenient option when making financial, legal and social agreements. If children are also involved this is particularly advantageous.

To change your surname to that of your husband, you do not need a Deed Poll. You can simply send off your marriage certificate along with a covering letter, explaining that you wish to have your surname changed to that of your husband, to all departments which need to update their records of you. 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 marriage certificate, for example the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency). Therefore it is advisable to obtain several marriage certificates on the wedding day so that organisations can be notified of your name change quickly and conveniently.

In following this tradition women abandon the use of their maiden name. For example, if Jane Jones married Matthew Morgan she would be known as Jane Morgan or Mrs. Matthew Morgan.  However in common usage you will find that most would address you (incorrectly) as Mrs. Jane Morgan. Collectively you would be formally known as Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Morgan.

Women: Taking your husband's surname and using your maiden name as a middle name

You may choose to take your husband's surname and continue using your maiden name as a middle name. This allows you to maintain links with your family name as well as avoiding the perceived pretentiousness associated with having a double-barrelled name.

For example, if Louise Williams married Matthew Rose she would become Mrs Louise Williams Rose. It is also possible for a man to also take his wife's previous surname as a middle name which would allow both couple to share the same middle name and surname. In thisexample, Matthew Rose would then become Matthew Williams Rose. Collectively the couple would be addressed as Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Williams Rose.

If you wish to take this option you will need to apply to change your name by Deed Poll to have your maiden name incorporated in your new name. This will allow you to get your personal records changed into your new name, including the name on your passport.

Women: Continuing to use your maiden name at work but using your husband's name for all other purposes

If you have a particular reputation at work or just want to keep your maiden name to avoid confusion with contacts, you may decide not to alter your professional work name. You'll probably need to write to your employer, explaining what you'll be doing and also to let them know which name your bank account/NI/tax records should be held in. 

Men: Taking your wife's surname

The option of a husband taking his wife's maiden name is also available to couples, although rather uncommon.

The process involved in this is different to that when a woman takes her husband's name. You can simply start using your wife's surname after your marriage but this is not sufficient if you want to formally change your name.

In order to get your personal records amended on documents such as your passport, you need to execute a Deed Poll. This would allow you to get all records changed into your new name without any problems or delays.

Same sex couples

There is no obligation for same sex couples to change their name upon getting married although many choose to adopt the surname of one partner, double-barrell their surnames or mesh them together to create an entirely new name. 

Double-barrelling the surname

The decision to double-barrel is becoming more widespread among today's couples. Both partners surnames are combined to form a hyphenated version.

This allows both partners to maintain links with their family name, and at the same time recognise a change in their marital status. It also moves away from the traditional idea, where the wife takes her husband's surname, while not abandoning the sharing of a surname completely. 

For example, if Jane Jones married Matthew 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 the husband to change his surname by Deed Poll before the wedding to the double-barrelled name he and his wife-to-be have chosen. Then, after the wedding, the wife can use her marriage certificate to get her records changed into her husband's new name, thus avoiding the need for two Deed Polls.

Creating a new surname (meshing)

The idea of meshing is a recent one and originated in the Unites States where both couple's surnames are ‘meshed' to create a new one.

Many newly-weds do not want to have to choose between his surname and her surname and have difficulties deciding whose surname will go first if they double-barrel. Meshing their surnames provides a solution to this problem. For example if Jane Johnson married Michael Francis they may mesh their surnames to become Mr. and Mrs. Franson. This would require a Deed Poll.

Some couples who mesh their surnames choose to continue using their previous surname as a middle name in order to maintain a link with their family name. This can easily be done at the same time since ‘meshing' of surnames requires a Deed Poll.

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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