A couple’s name change rights and options upon a civil partnership
This article explains your change of name rights and options upon entering into a civil partnership. We suggest you take the time to read the whole article so you have a full understanding of all your options.
There is no legal requirement for either of the couple to change their surname upon entering into a civil partnership. However, most couples do decide to share the same surname.
There are two options available to the couple that do not require a Deed Poll, which mirror the traditional rights afforded to married couples:
- To continue using their names, or
- One of the couple to change their surname to their partner’s surname.
If one of the couple wishes to change their surname to the other’s surname, the civil partnership certificate provides the necessary documentary evidence of the change of surname. By sending the civil partnership certificate to all concerned, the person’s documents and records will be changed to show the new surname. Female couples who wish to change their title from either Miss to Ms or from Miss or Ms to Mrs should read section 3 below.
2. Other options to consider
If one of the couple does not wish to take their partner’s surname, the following three options should be considered:
2.1 Double-barrelling your surnames
A double-barrelled surname uses both couples’ surnames. The two elements of the new surname can be linked by a hyphen or kept separate e.g. John SMITH-JONES or John SMITH JONES. It is personal choice whether a hyphen is used and which order the names are placed. However, most couples will find that one way sounds better than the other when the new double-barrelled surname is spoken.
Should either or both of the couple decide to have a double-barrelled surname a Deed Poll is usually required. Although some companies and organisations will change their records to show a double-barrelled surname upon presentation of the civil partnership certificate, many will not, particularly the financial institutions (just as they require a Deed Poll to double-barrel the surnames of married couples). A Deed Poll will guarantee that the surname you choose will be accepted by everyone without question. Please note, all government departments, including the Passport Office and DVLA, will accept a civil partnership certificate as documentary evidence of a change to a double-barrelled surname (for both partners). The only way to find out if you need a Deed Poll is to contact all record holders you deal with, for example, your bank, building society, credit card company and mortgage company etc and ask what their policy is for double-barrelling surnames following a civil partnership. No doubt, in time, companies and organisations that currently do not allow double-barrelling using a civil partnership certificate will review their name change policy and follow the lead taken by the government.
If you decide to apply for Deed Polls to double-barrel your surname, there are two options to consider in respect of the timing of your applications:
- 2.1.1 Apply in advance of your ceremony
If you wish to sign your Deed Poll documents immediately following your ceremony, you should apply for your Deed Polls at least three weeks before your ceremony. When you apply, please tell us the date of your ceremony by using the comments box on the application form. We will then date your Deed Polls with the date of your ceremony, which looks so much better than hand writing the date when you sign your Deed Poll documents. After you sign your Deed Polls, you will keep them safe until you return from your honeymoon and are ready to start the process of letting everyone know of your change of surname.
- 2.1.2 Apply after your ceremony
If you do not wish to sign your Deed Polls immediately following your ceremony, you can apply for your Deed Polls at any time following your ceremony. When your Deed Polls arrive, you can start the process of letting everyone know of your change of name. You can of course still apply before your ceremony if you wish, particularly if you want your Deed Poll documents to hand for signing upon your return from your honeymoon.
If the couple are changing their surname to a double-barrelled surname and Deed Polls are required, the cost of a second Deed Poll can be avoided if one partner changes their surname to the double-barrelled surname before the ceremony (this must be done well before giving notice to a register office so there is sufficient time to get all documents and records changed to the new double-barrelled surname). Consequently, the new double-barrelled surname will appear on the civil partnership certificate for one partner thus enabling the other partner to use the certificate to get their surname changed to the double-barrelled surname without a Deed Poll.
2.2 Making one partner’s surname a middle name for both partners
If a couple wish to share the same surname but do not want a double-barrelled surname, one partner could take the surname of the other partner but both partners could make the dropped surname a middle name. Consequently, the dropped surname is not totally abandoned and a link to the dropped family name is preserved. For example, if John SMITH forms a civil partnership with Alan JONES and John takes Alan’s surname, the couple could change their names to John Smith JONES and Alan Smith JONES. This can only be done by Deed Poll.
If you intend taking the above course of action, the same timing considerations apply as discussed in sections 2.1.1 and 2.1.2 above. Because your names are changing by Deed Poll, you do not need to show your civil partnership certificate to anyone – only your Deed Poll document. In your covering letter (when notifying everyone of your name change by Deed Poll), you simply need to mention your civil partnership so your marital status (civil partner) can also be updated on your documents and records.
2.3 Choose a new surname for both partners
Couples who are not happy about using a double-barrelled surname or using one of the couple’s surnames following their civil partnership are deciding to have a totally new surname. The new surname maybe a name they like the sound of or a combination of a part of each of the couple’s current surnames (known as “meshing”). Also, couples who decide upon a new surname often make their current surname a middle name, thereby maintaining a link to their family name.
If you intend taking the above course of action, you must both apply for a Deed Poll and the same timing considerations apply as discussed in sections 2.1.1 and 2.1.2 above. Because your names are changing by Deed Poll, you do not need to show your civil partnership certificate to anyone – only your Deed Poll document. In your covering letter (when notifying everyone of your name change by Deed Poll), you simply need to mention your civil partnership so your marital status (civil partner) can also be updated on your documents and records.
3. Changing your title
Most female civil partners want to change their title from either Miss to Ms or from Miss or Ms to Mrs following their civil partnership. Although Mrs is traditionally the title used by married women, many civil partners feel the title Mrs is more appropriate than Miss or Ms. Female civil partners (whose title was Miss prior to their civil partnership) who feel Mrs is not appropriate for them usually change their title to Ms. Sections 3.1 and 3.2 below explain the procedure for changing your title according to whether or not you will be applying for a Deed Poll to change your name.
3.1 If you will be applying for a Deed Poll to change your name
If you choose one of the options in section 2 above that requires you to change your name by Deed Poll following your civil partnership, we can include a change of title declaration on your Deed Poll document changing your title from Miss to Ms or from Ms or Miss to Mrs. The Deed Poll application form has provision for changing your title.
3.2 If you will not be applying for a Deed Poll
If one of you will be taking the other’s surname, you may both wish to change your title from either Miss to Ms or from Miss or Ms to Mrs. In which case, the partner who is changing her surname should mention in her covering letter (when notifying record holders of her name change) that she is also changing her title in addition to taking her partner’s surname. The other partner (who is not changing her name) simply needs to write to record holders advising them that following her civil partnership, she has changed her title.