The simple answer is that you can use any name you like, whenever you like, and there is no legal way to change it.
However, if you want to use this name formally, and have your name changed on official documents such as a passport or driving licence, then there is a process you have to go through, and that is to make a deed poll.
Just to note that if you get married or enter into a civil partnership, then this process doesn’t apply to you. If you need to apply for documents or change your name at financial institutions as a result of getting married, the only thing you need to do is to show your marriage or civil partnership document, and that is evidence enough of your surname change.
A deed poll is a document which contains the following:
- A declaration that you are abandoning your previous name
- That you will use your new name at all times
- That you require all persons to address you by your new name only
You can make your own deed poll, by simply producing a document announcing your change of name and containing the statements above, and have the document witnessed by two people who aren’t related to you. You must sign the document in your old and names.
You have to note that your new name must contain a first name and surname, be pronounceable and ensure they meet other conditions stipulated by the Home Office (which will be things like you can’t name yourself something offensive, for example).
That is enough to adopt your new name, but it’s important to note that many institutions will not recognise that method and will only accept your new name when it has been officially enrolled.
However, you can get your deed poll witnessed in front of a solicitor for an ‘oath fee’ of £5, which some institutions will accept.
You can also apply to have your new name put on the official register at the Royal Courts of Justice. You just need to download the various forms from www.gov.uk, pay a nominal fee, and the process will be put into place.
This process will include a notification in the official public record, also known as The Gazette, which will publish a notification of your name change via Deed Poll.
A solicitor will manage the process from start to finish for you, including officially enrolling your name on the Public Register and producing all documents for you to sign and get witnessed.
You will then be in the best position to change your name on official documents as well as on the electoral register.
Congratulations on your new name!