General name change information
A couple's name change rights and options upon a civil
This article explains your change of name rights and
options upon entering into a civil partnership. We suggest you take the time to
read the whole article so you have a full understanding of all your options.
There is no legal requirement for either of the couple
to change their surname upon entering into a civil partnership. However,
most couples do decide to share the same surname.
There are two options available to the couple that do not require a Deed
Poll, which mirror the traditional rights afforded to married couples:
- To continue using their names, or
- One of the couple to change their surname to their partner's surname.
If one of the couple wishes to change their surname to
the other's surname, the civil partnership certificate provides the necessary
documentary evidence of the change of surname. By sending the civil
partnership certificate to all concerned, the person's documents and records
will be changed to show the new surname. Female couples who wish to change
their title from either Miss to Ms or from Miss or Ms to Mrs should read section
2. Other options to consider
If one of the couple does not wish to take their partner's
surname, the following three options should be considered:
2.1 Double-barrelling your surnames
A double-barrelled surname uses both couples' surnames.
The two elements of the new surname can be linked by a hyphen or kept separate e.g.
John SMITH-JONES or John SMITH JONES. It is personal choice whether a hyphen
is used and which order the names are placed. However, most couples will find
that one way sounds better than the other when the new double-barrelled surname is
Should either or both of the couple decide to have a
double-barrelled surname a Deed Poll is usually required. Although some
companies and organisations will change their records to show a double-barrelled
surname upon presentation of the civil partnership certificate, many will not,
particularly the financial institutions (just as they require a Deed Poll to
double-barrel the surnames of married couples). A Deed Poll will guarantee
that the surname you choose will be accepted by everyone without question.
Please note, all government departments, including the Passport Office and DVLA,
will accept a civil partnership certificate as documentary evidence of a change
to a double-barrelled surname (for both partners). The only way to find out
if you need a Deed Poll is to contact all record holders you deal with, for
example, your bank, building society, credit card company and mortgage company
etc and ask what their policy is for double-barrelling surnames following a
civil partnership. No doubt, in time, companies and organisations that
currently do not allow double-barrelling using a civil partnership certificate
will review their name change policy and follow the lead taken by the government.
If you decide to apply for Deed Polls to double-barrel your
surname, there are two options to consider in respect of the timing of your
- 2.1.1 Apply in advance of your ceremony
If you wish to sign your Deed Poll documents immediately following your ceremony, you
should apply for your Deed Polls at least three weeks before your ceremony.
When you apply, please tell us the date of your ceremony by using the comments
box on the application form. We will then date your Deed Polls with the
date of your ceremony, which looks so much better than hand writing the date
when you sign your Deed Poll documents. After you sign your Deed Polls,
you will keep them safe until you return from your honeymoon and are ready to
start the process of letting everyone know of your change of surname.
- 2.1.2 Apply after your ceremony
If you do not wish to sign your Deed Polls immediately following your ceremony,
you can apply for your Deed Polls at any time following your ceremony. When
your Deed Polls arrive, you can start the process of letting everyone know of
your change of name. You can of course still apply before your ceremony
if you wish, particularly if you want your Deed Poll documents to hand for
signing upon your return from your honeymoon.
If the couple are changing their surname to a double-barrelled
surname and Deed Polls are required, the cost of a second Deed Poll can be
avoided if one partner changes their surname to the double-barrelled surname
before the ceremony (this must be done well before giving notice to a register
office so there is sufficient time to get all documents and records changed to
the new double-barrelled surname). Consequently, the new double-barrelled
surname will appear on the civil partnership certificate for one partner thus
enabling the other partner to use the certificate to get their surname changed
to the double-barrelled surname without a Deed Poll.
2.2 Making one partner's surname a middle
name for both partners
If a couple wish to share the same surname but do not want a
double-barrelled surname, one partner could take the surname of the other
partner but both partners could make the dropped surname a middle name.
Consequently, the dropped surname is not totally abandoned and a link to the
dropped family name is preserved. For example, if John SMITH forms a
civil partnership with Alan JONES and John takes Alan's surname, the couple
could change their names to John Smith JONES and Alan Smith JONES.
This can only be done by Deed Poll.
If you intend taking the above course of action, the same
timing considerations apply as discussed in sections 2.1.1 and 2.1.2 above.
Because your names are changing by Deed Poll, you do not need to show your
civil partnership certificate to anyone - only your Deed Poll document.
In your covering letter (when notifying everyone of your name change by Deed
Poll), you simply need to mention your civil partnership so your marital status
(civil partner) can also be updated on your documents and records.
2.3 Choose a new surname for both
Couples who are not happy about using a double-barrelled
surname or using one of the couple's surnames following their civil partnership
are deciding to have a totally new surname. The new surname maybe a
name they like the sound of or a combination of a part of each of the
couple's current surnames (known as "meshing"). Also, couples
who decide upon a new surname often make their current surname a middle name,
thereby maintaining a link to their family name.
If you intend taking the above course of action, you must
both apply for a Deed Poll and the same timing considerations apply as discussed
in sections 2.1.1 and 2.1.2 above. Because your names are changing by Deed
Poll, you do not need to show your civil partnership certificate to anyone -
only your Deed Poll document. In your covering letter (when notifying
everyone of your name change by Deed Poll), you simply need to mention your
civil partnership so your marital status (civil partner) can also be updated
on your documents and records.
3. Changing your title
Most female civil partners want to change their title
from either Miss to Ms or from Miss or Ms to Mrs following their civil
partnership. Although Mrs is traditionally the title used by married
women, many civil partners feel the title Mrs is more appropriate than Miss
or Ms. Female civil partners (whose title was Miss prior to their civil
partnership) who feel Mrs is not appropriate for them usually change their
title to Ms. Sections 3.1 and 3.2 below explain the procedure for
changing your title according to whether or not you will be applying for a
Deed Poll to change your name.
3.1 If you will be applying for a Deed
Poll to change your name
If you choose one of the options in section 2 above
that requires you to change your name by Deed Poll following your civil
partnership, we can include a change of title declaration on your Deed Poll
document changing your title from Miss to Ms or from Ms or Miss to
Mrs. The Deed Poll application form has provision for changing your
3.2 If you will not be applying for
a Deed Poll
If one of you will be taking the other's
surname, you may both wish to change your title from either Miss to Ms or
from Miss or Ms to Mrs. In which case, the partner who is changing her
surname should mention in her covering letter (when notifying record holders
of her name change) that she is also changing her title in addition to
taking her partner's surname. The other partner (who is not changing
her name) simply needs to write to record holders advising them that following
her civil partnership, she has changed her title.
Last updated: 14 September 2010
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