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    Information and advice about officially changing your legal name by Deed Poll
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Can a birth certificate be changed?
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About Deed Polls
Can a birth certificate be changed?

This article will enable you to determine if you can change the name on your or your child's birth certificate (through re-registration) thus avoiding the need to change your or your child's name by Deed Poll.

Sections in this article
1. Introduction
2. For births and adoptions registered in England or Wales
3. For births and adoptions registered in Scotland
4. For births and adoptions registered in Northern Ireland


1.  Introduction
There are very few circumstances where a birth certificate can be changed.  This is because a birth certificate is an historical record, which was correct when the birth was registered.  In most situations, if you want to be legally known by a name that is different to your birth name, all you can do is apply for a Deed Poll to change your legal name.  When you receive your Deed Poll document, you will use it to get all your official documents and records changed to your new name.  In the future, if you are asked to prove your identity (say for example you apply for a passport or bank account) you simply produce your birth certificate and your Deed Poll document.  The new name shown on your Deed Poll overrides the name on your birth certificate.

There are a few circumstances that enable you to get your, or your child's, name entry in the birth register amended.  Consequently, a new birth certificate can be issued showing the new or amended name details.  If you are able to get a new birth certificate issued, a Deed Poll is not required as the new birth certificate will be accepted by everyone as documentary evidence of the change of name thus enabling all documents and records to be changed to the new name.  The rules differ throughout the United Kingdom as the following sections explain.


2.  For births and adoptions registered in England or Wales:
The name on a birth certificate issued in England or Wales can be changed in the following circumstances:
  • Changing a child's forename(s)
    If you only wish to change the forename(s) of your child, it is possible to have your child's new forenames added to the birth register provided the new forenames were given either in Baptism within 12 months of the birth being registered or by regular use within 12 months of the birth being registered.  The new forenames can be added to the birth record after 12 months from when the birth was registered, but you will need to provide documentary evidence that the new forenames were in use within 12 months of the birth being registered.  Upon submission of the prescribed form to the register office where the birth was registered, a new birth certificate can be purchased that shows the new forenames.

  • Changing a child's surname from the mother's surname to the father's surname (parents not married)
    If the natural parents of the child were not married to each other at the time of the birth and the father did not attend with the mother to register the child, it is possible to re-register the birth at any time in the future to include the father's details and change the surname of the child to that of the father (only if both parents agree, otherwise a court order is required).  Upon re-registration, a new birth certificate can be purchased.

  • Changing a child's surname from the mother's surname to the father's surname (parents married since birth)
    If the natural parents have married each other since the birth was registered, the birth can be re-registered to show the child as a child of the parents' marriage.  Upon re-registration, the child and mother's surname can be changed to that of the father and a new birth certificate can be purchased.

  • Changing a child's name if the person recorded as the father on the birth certificate is not the biological father
    It is not possible to change your child's forenames or surname on your child's birth certificate if you can prove the person recorded as the father on your child's birth certificate is not the biological father.  However, if you are able to produce to the General Register Office (GRO) DNA paternity test results (from a court-approved DNA testing laboratory) that the person recorded on your child's birth certificate is not the biological father, you can apply to the GRO to have his details shown as having been recorded in error.  Any subsequent birth certificate issued will still show the incorrect details but there will be a note indicating the named father's details had been entered in error.

    If you want to have the biological father recorded on the birth certificate, there is the facility to apply to the GRO to re-register the birth.  If both parents agree, the child’s surname can usually be changed upon re-registration, although some restrictions apply.  If the child is 16 or over they will also need to agree to the change.  However, a birth cannot be re-registered just to change your child’s surname.

    For details of court approved DNA paternity testing laboratories click on this link (opens new window).

    For information about how to change your child's name by Deed Poll if the person recorded on your child's birth certificate is not the biological father, please click on this link to read section 9 of our article about changing a child's name.


  • If you have changed your gender and obtained a Gender Recognition Certificate
    If you are at least 18 years of age and have gender dysphoria and have been living in your acquired gender for at least two years, you can apply to the Gender Recognition Panel (opens new window) for a Gender Recognition Certificate, which will enable you to obtain a new birth certificate showing your new gender and name.  The new birth certificate can be used as documentary evidence of your change of name thus avoiding the need for a Deed Poll.
For further information e-mail the General Registrar Office for England and Wales, or call them on 0300 123 1837.  Alternatively, telephone or visit your local register office.

3.  For births and adoptions registered in Scotland:
The name on a birth certificate issued in Scotland can be changed in the following circumstances:
  • Changing a child's forename(s) who is under one year of age
    If a child's forename(s) (but not surname) are changed within the first year of life, the change can be recorded in the birth register if an application is made within two years of the birth of the child.  The application must be signed by everyone with parental responsibility for the child.  When a certificate of the child's birth entry is subsequently issued, the new name is substituted for the name originally registered.  The fee (as at January 2012) for recording a change of forename(s) is 55 (fee includes one new birth certificate).

    Because of the higher cost and the longer time it takes to register a name change in Scotland, most parents who wish to change their child's forenames do so by Deed Poll.


  • Changing a person's forename(s) and/or surname who is at least two years of age
    For persons aged two years and over, an application can be made to change of forename(s) and/or surname recorded in the birth register.  For a person under 16 years of age, the application must be signed by everyone with parental responsibility.  In the subsequent issue of a birth certificate the original forename(s) and surname are shown in addition to the new name.  The fee (as at January 2012) for recording a change of name is 55 (fee includes one new birth certificate).

    Because of the higher cost and the longer time it takes to register a name change in Scotland, most people who were born or adopted in Scotland who wish to change their name do so by Deed Poll.


  • If you have changed your gender and obtained a Gender Recognition Certificate
    If you are at least 18 years of age and have gender dysphoria and have been living in your acquired gender for at least two years, you can apply to the Gender Recognition Panel (opens new window) for a Gender Recognition Certificate, which will enable you to obtain a new birth certificate showing your new gender and name.  The new birth certificate can be used as documentary evidence of your change of name thus avoiding the need for a Deed Poll.
For further information e-mail the Name Change Unit at the General Registrar Office for Scotland, or telephone them on 0131 314 4404.

4.  For births and adoptions registered in Northern Ireland:
The name on a birth certificate issued in Northern Ireland can be changed in the following circumstances:
  • Changing a child's forename(s) who is under two years of age
    If a child's forename(s) (but not surname) are changed within the first two year of life, an application can be made to change the birth register.  The application must be signed by everyone with parental responsibility for the child.  When a birth certificate of the child's birth entry is subsequently issued, the new forename(s) is substituted for the name originally registered.

  • Changing a person's forename(s) and/or surname who is at least two years of age
    For persons aged two years and over, providing documentary evidence [What is documentary evidence] that the new name has been used for at least two years, an application can be made to change of forename(s) and/or surname recorded in the birth register.  For a person under 16 years of age, the application must be signed by everyone with parental responsibility.  Any subsequently issued certificate of birth will continue to show the forename(s) and surname as originally registered but the new forename(s) and/or surname as recorded will be shown in a separate space, together with the date on which the change was recorded.  By changing your name by Deed Poll, you will be able to get your documents and records changed to your new name for subsequent use as documentary evidence that you have used your new name for the two year period.

  • If you have changed your gender and obtained a Gender Recognition Certificate
    If you are at least 18 years of age and have gender dysphoria and have been living in your acquired gender for at least two years, you can apply to the Gender Recognition Panel (opens new window) for a Gender Recognition Certificate, which will enable you to obtain a new birth certificate showing your new gender and name.  The new birth certificate can be used as documentary evidence of your change of name thus avoiding the need for a Deed Poll.
For further information e-mail the General Registrar Office for Northern Ireland, or call them on 028 9025 2021.

Last updated: 20 July 2012


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