If you’re thinking about changing your name, then you’ll no doubt have researched into deed polls. Simply put, deed polls are legal deeds made to formalise a change of a name. In today’s post, we’ve put together some of the benefits and drawbacks of changing your name – be sure to read them before you make your decision.
PRO: Allows for anonymity
Perhaps the most common reason for changing a name by deed poll is anonymity. Whether you’ve had problems in your personal life, have been dealing with a stalker, or your name was brought to public attention, changing your name allows you to go back to being anonymous.
With a new name, you’ll be able to avoid basic background checks, including Google searches of your old name. This can be particularly useful if hard-to-explain information about your past has made its way to the internet, leading to a damaged reputation.
However, it’s important to note that a new name will not give you total anonymity. In your local area, a new name will count for nothing, as people will still know who you are. And in the legal world, you could still hold a criminal record and be required to declare it when applying for new jobs, for example.
PRO: Lets you choose a name you love
Many people, for whatever reason, dislike their name. Whether that’s because it was registered wrong, misspelt, fallen out of favour or simply doesn’t suit you as a person, a deed poll can help you change your name to one that you love.
You might want to change your surname to be part of a new family, like a step-family, or you might want to honour a family member with a new middle name. Having the freedom to do so is what makes deed polls so popular.
Other reasons for changing your name could be to identify as part of a new culture or religion, to separate yourself from a time or event in your life, or as part of your transition to a new gender.
You may even choose to change your name as part of a bet, or for a humorous reason. Metro’s round-up of the top ten weirdest names include the at-symbol, Metallica, Ynot Bubba and CutoutDissection.
Choosing a generic name could also be an option – in 2011 alone, 300 people opted to change their name to John Smith, one of the UK’s most recognisable names.
CON: Explaining why can be complicated
It’s all well and good if you want to change your name as part of a new identity in a new town or city, but if you’re staying where you are, explaining to others that you changed your name can be tough, especially if there’s an emotive reason behind your name change.
When you change your name, people may be confused and ask why. It’s entirely your decision whether or not you tell them. Indeed, you may even choose to continue using your old name with friends and family, and keep your new name for official purposes only.
One of the simplest ways to let people know is through social media. Use sites like Facebook to advertise the fact you’re changing your name, and consider keeping your old name on your profile in order for people to find you. If you don’t, you could be cut off from old friends and family who will no longer be able to search for your profile under your previous name.
CON: Changing documents can be time-consuming
Another downside to changing your name by deed poll is the admin. Once your new name has been approved, you’ll need to alert authorities and companies about your new name. Updating your name on the electoral roll, for example, is important, or you could be turned down when applying for mortgages, loans or taking our contracts for your phone or for utility bills.
Your driving license, for example, must legally be updated as soon as possible. You can use the D1 form to change your name, which is free to do. If you don’t alert the DVLA to your new name, you could be fined up to £100.
In order to change your name on a passport, you’ll need to renew it. However, the good news is that it’s legal to use your passport with your old name until it expires, provided you use the same name on any airline or travel tickets. If you don’t, you might be refused entry onto the aircraft.
The good news is that you can change your name for free in the majority of cases. Employers, schools, insurance companies, licencing, utility companies, doctors, dentists, banks, building societies, the police and local councils must all change your details without asking for payment. The downside, however, is the time it takes to alert everybody that holds your details on record.