On changing your legal name (UK)
How to change your name by deed poll (for UK citizens). A guide based on my experience.
Note: I am not a lawyer. Don’t take my advice as anything more than advice from someone on the internet.
The first step to changing one’s name is to create a deed poll.
The process is given here: https://www.gov.uk/change-name-deed-poll/make-an-adult-deed-poll. One only needs to write that one has done so, with two witnessess, and you will have legally changed your name. This is in fact the easy bit. The difficulty comes later in getting everyone to believe you.
Make it look official
You don’t need a “specialist agency or a solicitor” to do this; just a grandiose font and baroque language. Better yet, go to https://www.freedeedpoll.org.uk/ and use their template. You’ll get something like this:
I would recommend making multiple originals (also confusingly called “original copies”) of your deed poll. Doing this also means you (or the post) are less likely to accidentally lose the original(s) and you can send your deed poll to multiple institutions who want to see the original, at the same time.
To have multiple originals, simply print off several of the unsigned deed poll, and with your witnessess, sign them all in turn.
Enrolling your deed poll costs £42.44 and involves putting your deed poll on public record. This is a double-edged sword. Whilst this allows anyone to see that your new name is legally your new name, it also allows anyone at all, for all time, to look up your deadname. This, the cost, and the incovinience mean that I would not recommend this path.
Changing your name in practice.
Now that you have changed your name legally, it is now your responsibility to change your name in practice by telling every person and service.
Changing your name with services may seem daunting because they all seem to want evidence you don’t have. My advice is thus:
Changing your driving licence is the first step, since the only evidence you need is your deed poll. See https://www.gov.uk/change-name-driving-licence. This is free, or if you want to update your photo at the same time, you can pay £17.
Likely your course of action will be to get a D1 form from a post office, then send the form, the original deed poll, and the old driving licence to the DVLA.
If you want to change your photo, you may need to get this signed by someone else as being a true likeness of yourself. Getting your deed poll witness to sign this photo at the same time as doing the deed poll may expedite procceedings.
Other places to change
Some would-be forms of evidence can quickly verify your identity and new name by looking up your passport number, so by changing your passport next, the rest may be easier.
Bank statements, council letters, utility bills, payslips and hopital letters are often possible forms of evidence too. In my experience you can use your passport and/or drivers licence, with your deed poll, to change your name with these, and with your university, landlord, GP and everything else.
Changing your name legally doesn’t seem too difficult in the UK as a UK citizen. (I managed to do so whilst having lost both my passport and drivers licence, thus having very little proof I was a real person, let alone a real person with a different name).
When changing the name on you passport, you are warned that “The name on your passport must match the one you use when you book your travel.” This is probably good advice, but not strictly true. I was able to convince border security in Germany and the UK to let me through by having my deed poll and drivers licence with me.
Changing your gender is far more difficult. You need too much proof of your acquired gender, and non-binary genders aren’t recognised at all. Let us hope the Scottish Gender Recognition Reform Bill gets implimented, and that the rest of the UK follows suit
My bank (HSBC) actually does allow you declare your gender (including non-binary), so even if you are misgendered and/or deadnamed on your driving licence and passport, you may wish to look into changing your gender on your bank card and elsewhere.