Call me by MY name: How to help your child change their name 

by | Apr 25, 2024 | Your Child's Identity | 0 comments

Your child’s name is a vital piece of their identity, and there may come a time (or maybe you’re already there) when your child’s name and identity no longer align. Although the name you gave them was no doubt chosen with love, I’m sure you love your child more than their name. So, what can you do about it?

Here are the steps you can take to help your child claim their name.

The first step to changing a name is to simply start using their new one everyday. This means calling them by it at home and getting friends and teachers at school to use it too. It may also mean stopping the use of their old name, also known as their ‘deadname’. This can be tricky as a parent because you’re so used to the name you gave them, however all you need to do is apologise and correct yourself (and potentially others around you) if you make any slip ups. It is important to be fully on board with the change. This normalisation will help your child to feel more accepted and comfortable before officially changing it. 

Whilst there is not any legal obligation to officially change their name, they will need official evidence of the change if they would like their new name on things like school records, passports, driving licences and health records. This means that you will need a document called a Deed Poll. This is essentially just a legal document which proves that a name has been changed. 

The Deed Poll must demonstrate three things:

  • That they have started using a new name
  • That they have given up their old name
  • The date that they started using their new name

There are a few ways to get a Deed Poll. The first is to get a solicitor or legal professional to draft one for you. This would be classed as an unenrolled deed poll. If your child is 16 or over they can do this themselves. You can also draft a deed poll yourself and the website has guidance on the wording you would need for this. There are also organisations that will draft a Deed Poll for you e.g. UK Deed Poll Office.

Any form of unenrolled deed poll must be signed by two independent witnesses who are over the age of 18 and are not a spouse or family member. If your child is under 18 all parents/ guardians must agree to the name change. 

You can also apply for an enrolled Deed Poll, which means that the new name will be on a public record. To do this you will need to apply to the Royal Courts of Justice, which costs £48.32. Your child can only do this themselves if they are over 18, if not, you will need to do this for them. Again, everyone with parental responsibility will need to agree on the name being changed. 

Once you’ve obtained and signed the Deed Poll, you simply send it to the relevant organisations e.g. the Identity and Passport Service, their school, the DVLA etc. 

To change their name at the GP, you just need to send it to the GP and they should do this for you. There is no obligation to present the Deed Poll but some practices may ask for it. Each practice can be different and some may have their own form that they will request you to fill out. They will then begin to make a new NHS number for them and can also update their gender marker and pronouns on their record. It is important to note that some practices may be reluctant to do this for children under 18. 

It is really important to make sure the name that they choose is appropriate as the Identity and Passport Service can reject a name change if they think that the name will bring the UK passport into “disrepute”.

It can seem really daunting having to go through so much legal red tape to change a name, but nothing is more important than your child feeling comfortable within themselves.  

If you need any more information, here are some helpful links and resources to have a look at: