This information was submitted by a reader in the UK in 2018. Disclaimer: This is legal talk, not legal advice. Laws vary by jurisdiction, and some of the information discussed on this page may not be applicable in your case. It is up to you to confirm any information herein by doing your own research.
You have several options for a name change in the United Kingdom.
A Deed Poll
i) this is quickest and easiest – you don’t need an online service (like the ones you listed), they just cost money and slow the process a lot. You don’t need a lawyer of any kind. It’s free and takes 10 minutes. You just need 2 people to witness it, sign it, and write their addresses.
ii) Use this exact wording from the UK government site, under “How to make your own deed poll…Use the following wording”:
Print out this page and bring it to all relevant name-change meetings, so people know your document is valid.
iii) Use a cover letter in all correspondence, explaining the deed poll’s validity, and citing the link. Leave ample time because an admin person may be scared to approve something important then get in trouble if they got it wrong – you may need to get the doctor, manager, or other authority person to ‘ok’ it. Some people are surprised you don’t need a lawyer, a seal, or anything else, so be prepared for this, and explain using the above link/printout. But the Passport Office, Tax authorities, Electoral Register and my bank all accepted the deed poll and not just my name change, but also title (Ms.) and gender change.
iv) KEY – print out several copies (I recommend at least 6) because some bodies require an original, not a copy; and if you lose it before you get your official ID documents (see below), you have a problem as you can’t now prove your new name. I also recommend using high quality cream-coloured paper as it looks more official and is more durable.
v) you never have to show a Gender Recognition Certificate to change your name or title, or to validate a deed poll.
B) A Statutory Declaration
More cumbersome as it requires booking an appointment with a lawyer, and can cost a small amount. No legal advantage over a deed poll. But it may reduce acceptance hassles with minor bureaucracy.
C) Enrolled Deed Poll
Don’t do this, it is slow, costs more, and most important, it ‘outs’ you globally forever by entering your old together with your new name on the public record. Also, no body requires an Enrolled Deed Poll, you can just use a regular Deed Poll, which has the benefit of being 100% private – they are not ‘registered’ anywhere.
ID documents (UK)
Most important are i) photo ID, and ii) proof of address. Almost everything official asks for one of each of these: employment, forming a business, marriage/divorce, renting/buying property etc. The ideal is to have two forms of each one, which are normally:
i) Photo ID – a) a passport; and b) a driving license.
ii) Proof of address – a) a bank statement, and either b) a PAYE slip from an employer, or a letter from a government authority such as a Council Tax bill, a confirmation letter that you are on the Electoral Roll, or a letter from HMRC (Tax people) or Pensions (DWP) with your National Insurance (NI) number on it.
It makes sense to do it in order of speed and necessity, which is:
A. Bank statement
Bring your deed poll (with government website link/printout), last bank statement, and bank card into a branch and ask to see a personal banker or bank manager. It would be good to book ahead. Explain you are changing name, gender, title, and ask for all 3 to be updated and your statements, letters and new bank card to reflect this. My bank did it same day in 1 hour. Others may take longer.
B. Doctor (GP)
Bring your deed poll and cover letter/printout link. Book ahead and make sure you meet a supervisor or doctor, NOT just admin. Ask them to update your records – you will need an entirely new NHS number from scratch, this is how the NHS (Health Service) keeps your privacy. Ensure they understand and do this.
If you don’t have a GRC (Gender Recognition Certificicate), you should also get a GP letter, addressed to HM Passport Office, confirming your change of gender is real and likely to be permanent, with a line explaining their reasons for believing so (preferably, you are on the waiting list for a Gender Identity Clinic, and ideally you present as your chosen gender at your appointment(s)). This is a requirement to change your gender marker (M to F; or vice versa. We have no X yet in the UK) on your passport (you can only change your name and title without the GP letter). Ask for 2 or 3 letters (identical, originals) in case you lose or damage one.
IMPORTANT: ask for this *before* getting a new NHS number, so that the letter name/gender change request (which outs you on the records) is deleted when your new NHS number/records are set up.
Once you have this, everything else flows easily.
a) For changing gender you need an appointment in person at a UK Passport Office (only found in major cities), and to book ahead. Get two application forms from a Post Office.
b) download the trans application guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/applying-for-a-passport-information-for-transgender-and-transsexual-customers
c) you need 2 recent passport-quality photos; your Deed Poll; a GP letter confirming your change of gender; a ‘countersignatory’ from a ‘recognised profession’ to sign/date your application and 1 photo, and confirm this is how you look and are named now; and a completed application form; and a fee (about £70-150 depending how fast you want it)
d) it can be done in about 2 weeks – the wait for appointments is 3-5 days usually, for Fast Track, and it takes them 5 working days to send the new one back with you by courier. For the cheaper option it can take a month.
Driving License (DVLA)
a) Guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/change-name-driving-licence – send the deed poll (original), application form, and other proof they request. If you already have a UK driving license, it is easier. If not, it’s best to get a passport first, then the driving license is easier/quicker as they can just verify your ID by looking you up internally on the government ID system which passports use.
b) If your appearance changed a lot, you should use a new recent photo and pay £17 to get the photo changed.
c) KEY – send a cover letter insisting they change your gender marker on the License Number (not just your Title), otherwise your new driving license will out you (to anyone who is familiar with the gender market in the license number) as trans. Request written confirmation of this gender marker change.
E. Electoral Roll & Others (e.g. schools, universities)
a) Call your Local Council, ask for the electoral services division, speak to someone on the phone, and explain your name, title, and gender change, and the need to create a new record and erase your old records.
b) ask them what documents they need (copy of a deed poll, a cover letter, and your address plus old surname & initials should be enough) and mail them in, asking for a written confirmation once it’s updated.
c) with each body, stress the importance of privacy. Mention your privacy rights under the 2018 GDPR legislation, and say:
i) they must change your gender marker and title as well as your name
ii) they must never use your old name/title in writing, telephone, email i
iii) they must delete reference to your old name/title in their records as soon as is possible, consistent with their legal record-keeping duties.
iv) they must supply new documents (e.g. exam certificates) under your new name/gender, and update any publicly available info (e.g. stuff on websites) accordingly.
Do not accept any excuse for them keeping your old name, or not issuing updated documents/web info.
Official records and privacy
There are some big problems with some official bodies, their record-keeping of your old and new names, and your privacy as a trans person. Specifically:
a) Companies House. They handle all businesses/companies in the UK. They publish the full name of all directors (and secretaries) of companies. If you direct a company, and change your name, you are legally obliged to inform them of the change; and this will go on the public record and thus google. Voila, you are now easily outed worldwide forever.
I solved this by closing my company then re-opening a new one after I changed my name by deed poll. This is not an option for many directors. Until the law changes, I’m not sure how best to handle it, but UK trans people should be aware of it.
There’s also a landmine hidden in the application form to start a company, when you have to give your details as director, it has a section asking for ‘previous names’. This would out any trans person, but Companies House have said on the record that it is ‘not a mandatory field’. So trans people should just not fill it in. Here’s the evidence:
b) Tax (HMRC). Write to them at Public Department 1 and they will ‘restrict’ your records to stop anyone except specially trained tax officers seeing them, which will protect your privacy (but slow their response times). Because of pension law, HMRC won’t change your gender marker on their records until you get a full ‘official’ gender change with a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).
c) Land Registry. Anecdotally I heard that if you own property under your old name, you will have to update the records, and the Land Registry (anecdotally) may ask for a GRC to do so, contrary to what all other government bodies do.
This may have changed now, but it’s worth considering well before any property sale or purchase.
- Change your name or personal details on your passport:
- See also UK: transgender legal resources
A reader wrote in June 2008
I noticed that your page on name change for transgender people does not link out to any sites providing further information on name change by Deed Poll.
Would you consider adding the following site:
UK Deed Poll provides extensive information on changing your name. As this is something that many transgender people choose to do, I am sure it would be a useful resource to your visitors.
A reader writes in November 2003:
Reliable information for name changing in the United Kingdom can be found at :-
but beware, there is disinformation elsewhere on the ‘net for UK name changes. Oddly, for purely historical reasons, it is amazingly easy to screw up name changing in the UK by “starting off on the wrong foot”. For that reason the advice of FTM Network UK is invaluable (and applies equally to MTFs).
May I suggest you email to:
FTM-UK-owner (a-t) yahoogroups.com <- replace with @ sign and remove spaces
to confirm they still regard that web page as being the valid information and requesting permission to republish it.