A name change after marriage or divorce: How does it work?

In this blog we go through the practicalities of changing your name after a marriage. We also go through the practicalities of changing it back if things go south.

There are over 275,000 weddings a year in the UK. 275,000. Think about how much confetti, cake and embarrassing dad dancing that equates to.

It’s also a lot of people who probably have no idea what the actually process is for a name change after marriage. Everyone knows that traditionally it’s a thing, but have you ever actually thought about how it happens? The actual practical side of it?

Don’t worry if not. That’s exactly what I’m going to teach you in this blog. I’m going to go through the process of changing your name back after a marriage or civil partnership, too. Out of 275,000+ weddings a year, there are bound to be some mistakes.

A groom putting a ring on the bride's finger during a wedding ceremony.

How do I change my name after marriage?

Believe it or not, you don’t just wake up the day after your wedding and all your details have magically changed. Annoyingly, you’ve actually got to do it yourself. Gosh.

You’ll need to get in touch with every company that has your details on record and tell them about your name change. Banks, local councils, doctors, schools, utility companies – if they have your details on record, it’s your responsibility to let them know. You’ll need to send them a copy of your marriage certificate alongside a letter explaining the name change and asking them to update your records.

Some companies might accept copies, but others, like the Passport Office, will want to see the original certificate. It’s especially important to update your passport, too. If you book a holiday in your married name but your passport hasn’t been updated, you’re probably not going to be going on the holiday.

Updating your records means that you’ve got to post your marriage certificate to loads of different companies, hoping it doesn’t get damaged or lost on the way. There’s another, easier option, though – you could use a Deed Poll.

A man opening an envelope containing the documents informing him of a name change after marriage

Deed Polls are documents that you use to change your name. They’re surprisingly simple to do, and it saves you the bother of worrying about some ham-fisted intern desecrating your marriage certificate with Wotsit-dust covered fingers.

What options do I have for a name change after marriage?

Traditionally the bride takes the groom’s surname, but it’s 2023 now and people can do whatever they want.

  • Keep your own surname
  • Take on your partner’s surname
  • Double barrel your surnames
  • Take your spouse’s surname, but keep your surname as a middle name
  • Merge / mesh your surnames together e.g. Watts + Johnson = Watson
  • Create an entirely new surname

You can use your marriage or civil partnership certificate to take on your partner’s surname or double-barrel your names. All the rest need a Deed Poll, but a lot of people prefer to use a Deed Poll anyway ‘cos it’s easier.

Using a Deed Poll

If you want to use a Deed Poll to change your name, we’ve got you covered. Our Deed Polls are guaranteed to be accepted by all official organisations.

All you need to do is get one and sign it in on the blank space in front of two witnesses. That’s it. Then you can send it off to the relevant companies instead of your marriage certificate. They’ll update your records with it and you’ll have your surname changed in no time!

A person, holding a pen, about to sign a Deed Poll.

How do I change my name after a divorce?

Changing your name after a divorce is pretty much the same as changing it after a marriage – you need to get in touch with all the companies again and tell them about the change. You’ve got two choices.

Firstly, you could send off your official documents. For a divorce, that includes your Decree Absolute (official divorce papers) as well as either your marriage certificate or a copy of your birth certificate – they’ll need to see evidence of your name before the marriage, which isn’t included on the Decree Absolute. That means sending at least two important documents through the post.

Or, alternatively, you could bypass all that by using a Deed Poll. It’s quicker, it’s easier, and it means you’re not having to send your really important documents through the post. Don’t get me wrong, Deed Polls are important, but they’re a lot easier to replace than a marriage or civil partnership certificate.

Whatever option you go for, we can help you get the documents for it:

Declan Ramsden
Declan Ramsden

Declan is a Content Creator at Vital Consular. He studied English Literature for 4 years before joining the company. Outside of work, he enjoys listening to retro music and reading classic novels – particularly Charles Dickens!

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