Article reference: UK-IA-CHN08

Changing your name when you marry

Your marriage certificate is a record of your marriage, not your new name or your title. Just because you marry doesn't mean that you automatically take a husband's name or that you are now a "Mrs".

You have the right to choose the name you want. Traditionally in the UK, women take the husband's surname, but they may also choose to keep their maiden name as a middle name, continue using their maiden name, change to a double barrelled version of both spouses' surnames, or create a new surname to reflect their union.

Changing to a Mrs.

Changing your title doesn't require any legal documentation. You should simply start using your new title.

If you also change your name, then you can (optionally) specify your new title in the deed poll document.

Using your maiden name

You don't need to do anything if you marry and want to continue using your maiden name - you aren't changing your name. Nor does your title appear on your passport so you won't need to change it.

Using your husband's surname

Your marriage certificate is sufficient evidence that you have changed your surname to that of your husband (as his appears on the certificate). Although your new name is not on the marriage certificate, most record holders (including the Passport Office and the DVLA) will accept a marriage certificate as evidence of your intention to change your name to that of your husband.

Send the original copy of your marriage certificate to government bodies. You can buy additional certificates from your registrar or minister after your wedding.

If you marry abroad, and your certificate is not in English, you will either need to provide a certified translation (which can be expensive) or you can use a deed poll.

Note: it is perfectly possible for your husband to take your name. The best way of doing this is for him to do so by using a deed poll document.

Combining your surnames

Using your husband's surname can be seen as possessive. Some brides dislike giving up their family heritage (particularly if there are no brothers in the family to keep the line of the family name). One way to keep a family surname or show equal union is to "double barrel" the surnames of both the bride and the bridegroom.

A double barrelled name does not need to include a hyphen. The names could be placed in any order (try speaking both to work out which sounds best) although usually the bride prefers to place her's first.

The best way of ensuring that all organisations accept your new name is for both husband and wife to change their names by deed poll. Alternatively, the bridegroom could change his to the double barrelled name before the wedding ceremony and the bride can use the marriage certificate as proof she has accepted her husband's (new) name. If possible, it is better for the husband to change his name before the marriage is announced, and have all documentation changed so as to make the marriage process less complicated.

Adding your maiden name as a middle name

An alternative to double barrelling a name is keeping a maiden name as a middle name. This does require use of a deed poll document.

Sometimes, men make their wife's maiden name their own middle name. For example, John Smith who marries Jane Jones may change name to John Jones Smith.

Hybrid names

You can create a new surname for both of you by combining elements of your old surnames. For example, Mr Smith and Miss Jones might become Mr & Mrs Smones or Mr & Mrs Joth. Longer names tend to work better as they give more options. You will both need to change your name by deed poll, similar to if you were double barrelling them.

When to change your name

You can either change the bridegroom's name before marriage using a deed poll, or change both husband's and wife's names after marriage.

You can date your deed polls so that your names change on your wedding day. However, your names won't be legally recognised until you have also changed the majority of other records of your name. Applying for a new passport and a new driving licence can take several weeks. If you are going on honeymoon, it is better to do so under your old names, and change your documents when you return. You can let everyone know of your name change by sending wedding cards thanking guests and informing friends.

If you are changing your surname by deed poll, you can also add, remove or change other names at the same time.

Using your maiden name at work

It is legally acceptable to use your maiden name at work (for example, many barristers do so) provided you tell your employer of your new name. Sometimes there are commercial reasons to do so.

You do not breach your promise on your deed poll to use your name for all purposes because your maiden name becomes a 'trading name'.

If you are self employed (a sole trader), you must disclose that you are "[old name] trading as [new name]" on your stationery such as your letterhead. When you inform your bank, they will probably change your business bank account name to include your new name.

Changing your name as an alternative to marriage

Marriage is expensive. It also gives a couple legal rights and responsibilities. Many couples want to show their commitment to each other without marrying. One way of doing this is for one or both to change their surname to that of the other. This can be done by deed poll.

Changing your surname to that of your partner does not change your marital status (you will both still be single), nor does it change legal rights. Nor does changing from "Miss" or "Ms" to "Mrs" change marital status.

Many more people are changing their name to that of their partner with whom they cohabit. Doing so shows commitment, and can help create a feeling of a closer family unit. Changing your surname can also help children identify as being from a family, when the parents are not married.

Note that if you do change your title to "Mrs" but do not marry, you have to disclose your marital status as single still.

Further information and useful documents

This is the eighth article in a series of articles about changing your name by deed poll. The next is about name chnages on separation, divorce or death of your husband or wife. The previous was about passport applications in a new name.

You may be interested in downloading our template deed poll document that allows you to change your name without involving any third party solicitors or companies.

Please note that the information provided on this page:

  • Does not provide a complete or authoritative statement of the law;
  • Does not constitute legal advice by Net Lawman;
  • Does not create a contractual relationship;
  • Does not form part of any other advice, whether paid or free.
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