There is a lot of misinformation going out there about how trans people can change their name in the UK, often painting it to be a difficult and costly process. In most cases, it’s very simple.
- There’s no cost involved
- There’s no court involved
- There’s no solicitor involved
- There’s no register of names involved
- There’s no medical professionals involved
- You don’t need a Gender Recognition Certificate
- If you’re over 16, you do not need consent of your parents or guardians
You do not need to “legally” change your name to start using a new one in the UK, though many organisations will want to see proof of your change of name before they update your records. You have the right to change your name in everyday life as and when you wish, as long as it’s not to escape debts or other fraudulent reasons.
If you want to change your name on official documents or with large organisations, you’ll likely need to declare your new change of name – what is usually referred to as a legal name change. The typical way people go about changing their name is via Deed Poll. There are plenty of companies advertising professionally-printed Deed Polls for a significant fee, but as per the Government’s advice, you can print your own Deed Poll document for free in your home. This is your declaration that you reject your old name and endeavour to use your new name from now on.
There are very few restrictions on what you can change your name to, with most names being acceptable, except for offensive names, and those which imply you have legal status (Queen, Lord etc)
You can also change your title (Mr, Ms, Miss, Mx etc) at the same time you change your name, in the same document. Changing your title from “Mr” to “Ms” or “Ms” to “Mr” or any other title does not require any “proof” of transition or medical intervention, and it can be done as many times as you wish. Anyone of any gender can use any “gendered” title, with the exception of legally protected titles like Lord and Lady etc.
You need to sign your Deed Poll in front of one or more witnesses, as part of the declaration. Your witnesses do not need to be recognised professionals, or even employed, but they should be over 16 and know you well, and cannot be blood relations. You can also form a Deed Poll with one witness instead of two!
There are other ways of going about changing your name in the UK – you don’t even have to go about it a “legal” way – you can just start using a new name if you wish, but if you need to change ID or other documents, you’ll likely be asked for proof of change of name.
If you’re in Northern Ireland, and can’t afford to change your driving license or passport details yet, you can apply for a free Electoral ID card. If you’re registered to vote, you can apply for this for free from your local Electoral Office – a new photo will be taken, and your correct name will be listed. NI Electoral ID cards are accepted by most airlines for flights within the UK, and as photographic ID for most other purposes in the UK.
If you’re under the age of 16, you’ll need to follow a different procedure, and you’ll need your parents’/legal guardians’ consent.
- Free Deed Poll Generator
- Information from GOV.UK on Deed Polls
- Information on changing your name if you’re under 16
- Changing your name in Scotland
If you need any more information, or clarification on your particular circumstances, please feel free to contact me.