Changing your name when you get married

Changing your name when you get married

Changing your name when you get married



What’s in a name?

One of the things on your post-wedding to-do list will be deciding how and when to legally change your name after the wedding. Whether you’re taking your partner’s name, sticking to your maiden name or using a combination of both surnames, there are a few options to consider when it comes to changing your name after marriage and some legal requirements you must do to officially change your name.

The ‘to dos’ don’t stop once you say ‘I do’.

Church wedding by JB Moments Photography

What are my choices?

Taking your Partner’s Name

This is the most traditional route that couples choose to go down, with the woman more often than not taking the man’s surname. Although it is less common, there are some men who opt to take their new wife’s surname too.

Double Barrelling

Some men and women decide to adopt a double-barrelled surname. This works well if you both have fairly short, easy to pronounce surnames like “Smith-Beckett” or “Patel-Jones”. Longer, more complicated surnames might be less appealing, but if you wish to “double barrel” your name, you can do so.

Changing Your Maiden Name to Your Middle Name

Another option is to change your maiden name to a middle name, so it is still part of your legal name – and your partner could adopt your maiden name as a middle name too. This is a great choice for women who want to keep in with tradition but don’t want to completely let go of their family name.

Meshing Surnames

A new idea, growing in popularity, is to combine your surnames – also known as meshing. The most famous example happened when the journalist and TV presenter Dawn Porter married the actor Chris O’Dowd and changed her name to Dawn O’Porter.

Fusing your surnames is a good choice if you want to make a statement – and a totally fresh start – as a new married couple, and it’s seen as a good choice for equality. Do be careful if the new name you create sounds silly or is chosen with tongue in cheek: remember that this is going to be your legal name from now on, and a name you’ll pass on if you have children.

Keep it Informal

Another, less formal, compromise is to keep using your maiden name unofficially, not changing your name or email address at work, for example. You’ll still need to let your HR and accounts departments know that your name has legally changed (particularly if you’ve changed the name on your bank account), but you can let your colleagues know that you’d like to continue using your maiden name in a professional capacity.

The legal bit

Once you have decided what you want to do about your name after you get married, there are a few legal basics you should know:

Taking your husband’s name after marriage: you don’t need to change your name by deed poll to do this, but you do need to send a copy of your marriage certificate to all relevant authorities, such as the DVLA, and your bank – check if the organisation you are contacting requires the original marriage certificate or will accept a copy. You will also need to apply for a new passport: if you want to book your honeymoon tickets in your new name, you can apply in advance (see below).

Same-sex couples: if a same-sex couple decides to share one of their surnames, the partner who is changing their name will be able to use their marriage or civil partnership certificate to update their personal records and will not need a deed poll.

Keeping your maiden name: if you decide to keep your maiden name you don’t have to do anything as none of your personal records or accounts will need to change.

Using a maiden name as a middle name: if you choose to do this, you must apply to change your name by deed poll using a specialist agency or a solicitor. You’ll need to supply a copy of your marriage certificate to make this change, and you’ll need to have your deed poll certificate before you can apply for a new passport – so it’s probably safest to book your honeymoon tickets in your maiden name if you’re heading straight off on holiday.

Using a double-barrelled name: If a woman wants to double barrel her surname she will need to change her name via deed poll. If a wife and her husband want to adopt the same double-barrelled name, the man could change his name via deed poll before the wedding and then his wife can simply use her marriage certificate to apply for a new passport/change her records after the wedding (saving on the expense of two deed polls). The same applies to a same-sex couple if one partner changes his/her name before the wedding/civil partnership.

Taking your wife’s name after marriage: if a man wants to formally change his surname to his wife’s, he will need to change his name by deed poll.

Meshing your names: You can mesh two surnames (e.g. John Smith and Jane Doe become John and Jane Smoe) or create a totally new surname to share. Doing this requires a deed poll and if you want to keep your old surname as a middle name, you can do this at the same time.

Who do I need to tell?

  • The passport office
  • The DVLA (driving licence, vehicle registration)
  • HM Revenue and Customs
  • Child Benefit
  • Local Authority (Council tax and electoral register)
  • Land Registry
  • Student Loans
  • Your employer
  • Your bank or building society
  • Your mortgage provider
  • Your pension providers
  • Credit card companies
  • Your phone & broadband provider
  • Your doctor
  • Your dentist
  • Your Vet
  • Your Gym
  • Your motoring organisations (breakdown cover)
  • Utility companies (gas, water, electricity providers)
  • Your insurance company (motor, home, travel, pet)
  • Loans companies
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • Store cards & online accounts
  • Any clubs or societies you are a member of

Useful Information For Passport Changes

You can change your name on your passport up to 3 months before the ceremony.  Your old passport will then be cancelled.

The new passport is ‘post-dated’ which means it is valid from the date of your ceremony. You can’t use it before the ceremony.  Some countries won’t issue visas for post-dated passports so do check with the country’s consulate.

To renew your passport you can either:

  • Apply online.
  • Apply using a standard passport application form which you can pick from any Post Office branch.
  • You must also send A ‘Post-Date Form 2’ along with your application.

The religious minister or registrar who will conduct the ceremony must sign this, as must you with your current name and signature.

This was first published for subscribers of my monthly wedding planning newsletter. If you wish to get helpful hints and tips to plan your perfect day – sign up here.

Update: in Scotland you don't need to change your name by deed poll. Scots law allows you to be known by any name you choose providing there is no intent to defraud.