I recently renewed my passport. It was the last step in a two-year process of changing my name. The only reason I hadn’t done it was that my passport didn’t run out until this year, and I didn’t need it. Changing your name on a passport is the same as renewing it, and costs the same, so until recently, it wasn’t a priority.
Everything else is already in my new name (well, almost everything, I still get the odd spam email etc), and I had a driver’s licence as ID (a provisional but I’ll come to that later). The passport arrived today – in what I’m calling post-Brexit blue, with the standard crappy passport picture. At least in this one, I don’t look sick or hungover which is how I used to look.
Changing your name by deed poll is easy and free and I’m going to go through what you need, who you need, and how you do it.
What You Need.
- Some thick paper/thin card – not the 80gsm stuff, but something around 120gsm.
- A black pen.
- A printer – or take your fancy paper or the library.
- A new name!
Who You Need
You’ll need two witnesses to sign the paperwork. You can just list one person, but if your deed poll is only signed by one person, this can be rejected by places when you try and change your name.
The people witnessing your deed poll should not live at the same address as you and cannot be related to you. So grab a couple of friends, I was honoured to have my friends Emma and K sign my deed poll.
How To Change Your Name
Go to freedeedpoll.org.uk.
If you’re over 18 and born in the UK – select the first option – Normal Deed Poll.
Fill in the details – your old name, your new name and check the box if you’re changing your first name. Fill in the details of your witnesses and click Generate Deed Poll. You can download it as a pdf and print it off.
Take your friends out for a cup of coffee with your biro and get them to sign it (literally what I did).
Celebrate and enjoy your new name, and start the process of changing your name at, well, everywhere!
Check if your new name is valid. The UK doesn’t have many rules about names but there are a few such as only certain punctuation can be used and nothing offensive. A quick look at the rules will clear it up.
Print off a few copies and get your friends to sign them. This way, if someone doesn’t send back your deed poll or it gets lost in the post you haven’t lost your only copy. It also means you can change your name at a few places at the same time.
Get a provisional license. Even if you don’t ever want to learn to drive, it’s a good piece of ID, and I think it sped up the process with my passport because it’s a government issue ID. It costs £34 quid to do it online, but it’s free to change the address if you move and only £14 to change the photo (which, I advise, or you’ll end up like me using the same photo from when you were 17 and ill for the next 20 years).
You can change your title. You can take any gender’s title, and you can have that title on your driver’s license. Mine is Mx and listed on my licence (though not everywhere accepts it yet).
Make a checklist of all the places you use your name – sounds daft, you use your name, everywhere but it helps to make sure everything is done. I’m still surprised sometimes by my birthname popping up and I find it incredibly jarring at times.
You Can Change Your Name Back
Don’t let any alarmists put you off changing your name. If you’re trans remember more cis people change their name than trans people even exist. Remember this is your name, you are the one who has to live with it. Much like your body, it is your body and your name and your choice.
And you can change it back. Just head back to freedeedpoll.org.uk, grab your mates and do it all over again. Yeah, it can be a pain in the arse, sending it off to places and trudging to the bank and doctors and wherever else. But you’re the one doing it, no one else. My dad has a cousin who has had four different names at least (that doesn’t include her surnames from marriages). One of my mum’s oldest friends changed her name for 30 years and then changed it back.
Names are a gift, what you do with that gift is up to you.