Changing your name
This information applies to Scotland
If you wish to be known by a different name you can change your name(s) (forenames, middle names, and surnames) at any time, provided you do not intend to deceive or defraud anyone.
Once you have decided to change your name, you can use the new name for all purposes. However, you will need to produce evidence that you have changed your name for most official purposes.
Although it is not necessary, it is advisable to officially record the change of name with the Registrar General (see below).
In some cases it would not be in your interest to have the change recorded, for example, in the case of domestic violence. A change of name is recorded on a public register and anyone, for example a violent ex-partner, would have access to the change of name.
Marriage or civil partnership
If you get married or register a civil partnership you can use any name, including your spouse or partner’s, as long as no fraud is intended.
If you have married or registered a civil partnership and changed your name, you can make an official recording of your change of name. This change will be recorded against your original birth entry. However there is no real benefit in doing this as your marriage or civil partnership certificate is recognised as sufficient proof of a change of name.
Divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership and reverting to a previous name
If you divorce or dissolve a civil partnership you can simply go back to using your previous surname without having to officially record the change.
If you were married you can simply let everyone know you are reverting to your previous name (such as a Birth name or maiden name). However if you went through the formal change of name procedure to change from your previous name to your married name then you will have to go through that official procedure again to change your name back and have your birth entry amended to your previous name.
If someone in a civil partnership changes from their birth name officially, using the change of name procedure, to take the same name as your civil partner, you will have to change back using the change of name procedure if you wish your birth entry to revert to your birth name.
Gender reassignment and changing your name
Transgender people can change their name at any time. You don't have to have a gender recognition certificate or a new birth certificate to start using a new name. There's more information about changing your name on the Scottish Trans website.
Changing your name by deed poll or statutory declaration
If you are not able to officially record a change of name in Scotland because you were not born or adopted in Scotland you can use a service to change your name by deed poll. There are many services available, for example on the UK public sector information website. It is recommended that if you want to later provide evidence that you have changed your name you can enrol your deed poll in the Supreme Court in London.
You can also officially change your name in Scotland using a statutory declaration. If you are allowed to change your name using the process of recording a change of name with the Registrar General it is easier to use that process. A statutory declaration can be drawn up and witnessed by a notary public or justice of the peace. You can get more information about what a statutory declaration is from a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
Changing the name of a child (under the age of 16) can only be done by someone who has parental responsibilities for the child. This will usually be the child’s parents if the parents are married, or the child’s mother if the parents are not married. An unmarried father can only change a child’s name if he has acquired parental responsibilities towards the child. He may have acquired these rights if, from 4 May 2006, he registered his child's birth jointly with the child's mother. Alternatively he can acquire parental responsibilities and rights through a parental responsibilities agreement or a court order.
If more than one person has parental responsibilities for the child, they must all agree to the change of name.
A mother who is under sixteen herself can change her child’s name.
A person who gave the child’s forename in baptism also has the right to apply to change the child’s name. This usually only happens in cases where the parents have given the name initially and then decide to change it when the child is baptised.
Objecting to a child’s name being changed
If someone without parental responsibilities wants to object to a child’s name being changed, s/he may have to obtain a court order.
If you want to object to a child’s name being changed you should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
If you were born or adopted in Scotland, you can record a change of name with the Registrar General. If you live in Scotland but were born or adopted in another country you should find out how to record a change your name in that country.
You can obtain more information and the appropriate application form to record a change of name on the National Records of Scotland website.
There is a fee for recording a change of name.
How many times can you record your change of name
There is a limit to the number of times that you can record a change of name with the Registrar General:-
- only one change of forename(s) and one change of surname(s) may be recorded for a child under 16 years of age. For a child under the age of two, only a change of forename(s) may be recorded.
- for people over 16 years, one change of forename and up to three changes of surname may be recorded. A period of five years must elapse between successive changes of surname.
- if you have reached the limit of the number of times that you can record a change of name, you can still change your name, but it cannot be officially recorded by the Registrar General.
Whether you choose to record your change of name or not, it is important to inform individuals or agencies, for example the children's school or the Benefits Agency, of the change of name.