If you and your partner want to share the same last name, it can be a straightforward process. How you go about it will depend upon whether you are married or civil partnered, or not.
If you marry or register a civil partnership, taking your partner’s surname is fairly straightforward. You can put your partner’s surname on your marriage or civil partnership certificate and this will be accepted as a legal document when changing your name on other documents, like your driver’s license or passport.
Changing your name
Not married or not civil partnered
If you are not married and not civil partnered and want to change your name on official documents, you will need to change your name by Deed Poll. This will allow you to change your name on your passport or driving license, but some documents – like birth certificates, marriage or civil partnership certificates, and decree absolute or dissolution certificates – can’t be changed.
You can apply for a deed poll online. It costs £14 and comes with a list of instructions on how to complete and return it.
Married or civil partnered
If you want to take your partner’s surname, you can just take the name as described above. You can also combine your surname with your partner’s, to make a double-barrelled name. All government departments, the Passport Office, and DVLA will accept marriage or civil partnership certificate as evidence of this.
If you and your partner both want to change your surnames completely, you will need a Deed Poll. This is still fairly simple, but it takes a bit more planning.
Before the ceremony, one of you can change your name by Deed Poll, and then, when you marry or register your civil partnership, the other can take on the new name.
You can change your name on your passport up to three months before your wedding or civil partnership registration, but you won’t be able to use it until the actual day of your marriage or registration. If you’re going to need your passport for your honeymoon, make sure you give yourself at least six weeks to get everything changed over.
You should not attempt to travel abroad holding documents with different names.
Changing your child’s name
You can change your child’s first name simply by using the name on a common basis. This is known as a ‘change of name by usage’, and you’ll need to make sure everyone with parental responsibility agrees.
Changing your child’s surname could be more complicated, but you may want to do this if you’re joining a stepfamily and want everyone to have the same surname. You’ll need to apply for a Deed Poll and you must get consent from everyone who has parental responsibility.
For more information, see our Parent Connection article, changing a child’s name after divorce.
Deed Poll: A legal document that binds the person who signs it to the course of action detailed on the Deed Poll document.
Deed Poll document: Provides documentary evidence that you have changed your name and that you are legally binding yourself to use your new name. A Deed Poll will be recognized by all UK government departments, UK companies, and organizations if it is prepared by a recognized authority (such as the UK Deed Poll Service) or a solicitor.