A Deed Poll is a legal document that binds an individual to a particular course of action. The most common use of a Deed Poll is to change a name. As a result, this is now the widely recognised term for the legal document that enables you to officially change names.
More formally it is known as a ‘Deed of Change of Name’, but the term Deed Poll is more commonly used throughout the United Kingdom. A Deed Poll, or Deed of Change of Name, commits a person who executes it to the following actions:
Renouncing and abandoning the use of their former name(s)
To use their new name(s) at all times
To require everybody to address them only by their new name(s)
When a Deed Poll document has been drawn up, it must be executed. This simply means that it is signed and dated in the presence of a witness. The person that witnesses the actions must meet the following requirements:
Be at least 18 years of age.
Be known to you but be independent of you (e.g. not a family member).
Not live at the same address as you.
Be able to speak and read English.
A change of name is effective as soon as your Deed Poll is executed. At that point, you can officially update documents and records.
The Meaning of “Deed Poll”
Strictly speaking, a Deed Poll is not a legal contract because it binds only one person rather than two or more parties. The second way that it differs from a legal contract is that it expresses an intention rather than a promise.
The term Deed is common to signed, written agreements that have been shown to all concerned parties. Poll is an old legal term referring to official documents that had edges cut (or ‘polled’) so that they were straight.
The Function of a Deed Poll
By Deed Poll, you can choose to change forenames, surnames, and middle names as well as being able to add and remove names. You can also rearrange current forenames or alter spellings. You can choose to change your name to almost anything, although there are several basic conditions that your new name must meet.
Both adult’s and children’s names can be changed. However, to change a child’s name who is under 16 years of age, a person holding parental responsibility for them must apply and all those with parental responsibility must give their consent to the name change.
Upon execution, a Deed Poll enables you to formally change your name on official records such as your passport, driving licence, tax and National Insurance records, bank and credit cards, etc. Since one of the declarations is to use your new name at all times, you must notify all organisations and departments that hold your details that your name is changed.
Your birth certificate, marriage certificate, and educational certificates cannot be changed because these documents are “matter of fact”. This means that they were correct at the time that they were issued. However, under certain circumstances it is possible to change the name on a child’s birth certificate.