Name Changes

What’s in a Name? The Government appears to be little in touch with what current law around names is – let alone legislation on Equality and Human Rights, both of which suggest that it cannot, should not be clamping down on current name change practice.

You do not, in theory, need any legal documentation –  deed poll, stat dec, etc – to change name; though current practice is making demands for such documentation increasingly widespread.

If you would like to know more about how the law on naming works in England and Wales, please read on. If you’re in Scotland, our friends at the Scottish Trans Alliance have information about name changes on their website.

An overview

It is a principle of the law in England and Wales that a person’s legal name can be changed simply by using a new name and becoming known by it. There is no legal requirement for a new name to be enrolled or registered. Despite this, many organisations insist that trans and non-binary individuals show proof of their legal name by enrolled deed poll.

This requirement discriminates against trans and non-binary people by creating unnecessary barriers to recognition of their name. 

These pages outline the law on name changing, the impact of these administrative burdens for trans individuals and other minority groups, and suggestions for how this process can be challenged.

Click Name changes for children and young people to read a research paper, provided by a leading law firm, to outline the legal process for changing the names of children and young people.

These pages summarise general legal information relating to the rights of transgender and/or non-binary individuals under the law in England and Wales. It is not intended to give specific legal advice on which you should rely. If you require legal advice, or further details on any matter referred to, please consult an independent legal professional.

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