This article answers the frequently asked question “Is a Deed Poll registered anywhere?” It also provides information about enrolled Deed Polls, which are Deed Polls that have been voluntarily registered (enrolled) with the Ministry of Justice.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no central register of all name changes in the United Kingdom. This is because name change in the United Kingdom, whether by, for example, marriage or by Deed Poll, is a private matter, not a public or government matter.
Deed Polls are not registered anywhere unless they are voluntarily “enrolled” i.e. registered in the Enrolment Books of the Supreme Court of Judicature, which is located within the Royal Courts of Justice in London. After about five years, copies of enrolled Deed Polls are transferred to The National Archives, which is situated in Kew in Surrey. The National Archives, which is open to the public, have copies of enrolled Deed Polls going back to 1851.
2. More about enrolled Deed Polls
Registering a Deed Poll with the Ministry of Justice is regulated by The Enrolment of Deeds (Change of Name) Regulations 1994 (later amended by The Enrolment of Deeds (Change of Name) (Amendment) Regulations 2005). The regulations prescribe the procedure that British and Commonwealth citizens (who were not born in Scotland and who live in the United Kingdom) must follow if they wish to have their Deed Poll registered in the Enrollment Books. The procedure requires an executed Deed Poll in the prescribed form to be submitted to the Royal Courts of Justice in London together with:
- The applicant’s birth, adoption or naturalisation certificate.
- If married, the applicant’s marriage certificate.
- If married, a letter from the applicant’s spouse consenting to the name change.
- A statutory declaration (sworn before a solicitor) by a British or Commonwealth citizen who has known the applicant for at least 10 years and who owns property in the UK.
- A notice for the London Gazette newspaper (see below).
- Payment of the £36 fee.
If the name change is for a child (who is under 18), the following must also be submitted:
- An affidavit (sworn before a solicitor) by a parent explaining the reason for the name change and why the name change is in the child’s best interests.
- The written consent of anyone else who has parental responsibility for the child.
If the application is successful, the details of the name change are then published in either the London or Belfast Gazette newspaper [What is the London Gazette – opens pop-up window]. The information published includes the applicant’s new name, former name and home address. The same information is also published on the Gazette’s website. The Deed Poll document is then stamped by the court and posted back to the applicant. It can then be used to get the person’s documents and records changed to their new name (in exactly the same way our Deed Polls are used).
3. Why is enrolling a Deed Poll so unpopular?
Enrolling Deed Polls is extremely unpopular for the following reasons:
- It’s a voluntary process that there’s no need to follow.
- It’s a complex process that many people find difficult to follow.
- Separated women need their husband’s written consent to revert to their maiden name (in fact, all married people and civil partners need their spouse or partner’s consent).
- You need to know an independent British or Commonwealth citizen who is prepared to visit a solicitor and declare (by a statutory declaration) that they have known you for at least 10 years and they own property in the UK.
- In addition to the £36 fee, there will be your solicitor’s fees for getting the necessary statutory declarations sworn.
- It takes about four weeks before the Deed Poll document is enrolled and returned.
- There is no difference in the effectiveness of a Deed Poll that has been enrolled and the Deed Polls we issue. Both will get all your official documents and records changed to your new name, including your passport, driving licence, bank account, tax and medical records etc.
By way of comparison, during the 15 year period from 2003 to 2017, we issued 624 thousand Deed Polls whereas there were fewer than 10 thousand Deed Polls enrolled during the same period. In other words, we issued 200 Deed Polls for every three enrolled Deed Polls.
4. What are the benefits of enrolling a Deed Poll?
Although there is no difference in the effectiveness of the Deed Polls we issue and a Deed Poll that has been enrolled, enrolling a Deed Poll has the following benefits due to a copy of the Deed Poll being held in perpetuity at The National Archives:
- Unquestionable proof of a Deed Poll’s existence and execution.
- A certified copy can be purchased (but only by visiting The National Archives).
- Future generations can find the Deed Polls of their ancestors when researching their family tree.
5. Enrolling a Deed Poll
If you are considering applying to have your Deed Poll enrolled with the Ministry of Justice, before you embark on the lengthy application process, we suggest you first use the checklist below to see if you are eligible to apply and to check if enrolling your Deed Poll is right for you.
If, like most people, you ticked one of the No boxes, then an enrolling your Deed Poll is not for you. Please continue using our website to become one of the 50 thousand people who apply to us each year for their Deed Poll.
If you ticked the Yes box to all the questions that apply to you, then you may want to embark on the enrolled Deed Poll application process to become one of the few people who apply each year.
6. Deed Poll trivia
We issue more Deed Polls in a month than are enrolled annually and we issue annually more Deed Polls than have been enrolled since 1851.