Thinking of changing your name?
Hugo Boss, a British comedian, is professionally known as Joe Lycett. He was born Joe Harry Lycett on the 5th July 1988. He has appeared on numerous TV shows including Live at the Apollo, The Great British Sewing Bee, Taskmaster, and many more.
On 1st March this year, he publicly announced that he had changed his name to Hugo Boss. His reason was one of protest. Hugo Boss (the company) had taken to protecting its trademark by sending cease and desist letters to small business using the word ‘Boss’.
We are not here to discuss the merits or criticisms of Hugo Boss (either of them)!
However, it is interesting to note how straightforward it can be to change your name. Names can be freely changed and a change of name deed (sometimes named deed poll) is useful evidence of having done so.
Why do it?
There are many reasons why someone may decide to change their name. Anyone over the age of 16 years can change their name for valid reasons.
Here are some.
- I have started to live with someone whose surname I wish to adopt
- I’m divorced and want to change my name away from my married name
- I don’t like my birth name
- I wish to make a fresh start
- My surname is complicated and wish to have a simplified version
- I’m getting married and wish to have a combination surname of both our surnames
- I’ve changed gender and need a new appropriate name.
What name can’t I have?
It isn’t permitted to use a change of name to pretend to be someone else or for fraudulent reasons. You cannot change your name to anything that is offensive, blasphemous or promotes illegal activity, discrimination, or hatred. Names containing marks and numbers may not permitted nor can you give yourself a title without authority. Whilst Hugo Boss is a trademark it is also quite clearly a recognised human first name and surname. It might be more difficult to change your name to Adidas!
You are unlikely to obtain a passport if these rules are ignored, or if a name is ridiculously long or complex.
How do I do it?
The most used and effective process for legally changing a name in the UK is by a change of name deed referred to above. A deed is a legal document that proves the change of name, and it can be used as evidence of your new title for the purposes of amending your passport, driving licence and other official documents.
The deed should confirm that you have given up your old name and will instead use the new name for all purposes, and it must be signed and witnessed. This deed is your private document and you do not need to register it anywhere.
There is, however, an option to ‘enrol’ a deed with the courts. This means that the deed is registered with the Royal Courts of Justice. There is a fee of £36 to do this. The process is explained here – how to enrol a deed poll.
Do I have to go through this enrolment?
ABSOLUTELY NOT. There is no government function in the UK which has responsibility for registering its citizens’ identification. The deed alone is enough proof that a person has chosen to be identified by a different name. The courts have already declared back in 1977 that enrolling a deed is not a legal requirement.
However, if you decide to enrol your deed, you are basically publishing your decision.
While there is no legal requirement to enrol a deed poll, the main advantage of doing so is the fact that a copy will be retained officially, and it makes it easier for you to provide evidence of your new name. If you lose your deed, you will be able to obtain a certified copy from the National Archives (a fee will apply).
Who do I notify?
Remember to change your passport, driving licence etc. You will need to inform your utility providers, bank/building society establishments, clubs, other accounts, and of course your friends and family!
Some institutions may wish to have copy of your change of name document. Anyone who is adult and independent can witness your deed. However, if witnessed by a solicitor, this will add authenticity to the whole scenario. The solicitor will be able to provide you with ‘certified copies’ to give to banks etc who may ask for such formal proof.
14th April 2020