As with marriage, there is no legal requirement for either couple in a civil partnership to change their surname. The decision to share the same surname is an entirely personal choice. However, if you decide to do so, there are different procedures to adhere to depending on the way you change your name.
In order to change the name recorded on all official documents, you need to produce documentary evidence of your name change. In some circumstances, your civil partnership certificate will be sufficient evidence. In other circumstances, a legal document called a deed poll (or ‘deed of change of name’) is necessary.
We provide a free version of a deed poll template for download.
Name changes without using a deed poll
Taking your partner’s surname
If one of you wishes to change your surname to your partner’s surname all that is required is your civil partnership certificate. Simply send the certificate to all concerned and your records will be updated accordingly.
Changing your title
In a female civil partnership, one or both of you may also wish to change your title. You might want to go from Miss to Ms. Alternatively, you may want to go from Miss or Ms to Mrs. A deed of change of name document is not required to change your title - simply start using your new title.
If you are the partner who is changing your surname, you should also mention your change of title in the cover letter you send out with your civil partnership certificate. The partner whose surname is staying the same just needs to write to all record holders informing them that she has changed her title due to her civil partnership.
Name changes requiring a deed poll
There are other ways to represent your relationship status in your surnames without one partner choosing to take the other’s name.
These alternative options all require a deed poll document to be supplied to the organisations and government bodies that need to update your records - your civil partnership certificate is not enough.
A change of title declaration can also be added to inform record holders of both changes at once.
Double-barrelling your surnames
Double-barrelled surnames use both partners’ surname, either linked with a hyphen (e.g. Rogers-Smith) or kept separate (Rogers Smith).
Some organisations will change your records without a deed poll document if you present them with your civil partnership certificate – for example, the passport office and DVLA. However, a number of important organisations do require this document to change your records – such as financial institutions. It is therefore better to work on the assumption that you will need one.
Making a surname into a middle name for both of you
Another alternative chosen by some couples is for one partner to take the other’s surname, with the dropped surname becoming both partners’ middle names. Both partners would therefore have both names. However, unlike an unhyphenated double-barrelled surname, only one name would be listed as the couple’s official surname.
For example, if Elizabeth Ann Harris entered a civil partnership with Rachel Claire Oldham, her full name might become Elizabeth Ann Harris Oldham. Her partner’s name would also change to Rachel Claire Harris Oldham. Their records would show their surname as Oldham.
Choosing a new surname for both of you
A third option open to you is to create a completely new surname. This might be a name with no family connection chosen purely because you like it, or a new name that combines your former surnames. You may also want to make your old surname into your middle name at the same time to maintain your family link.
You can find more information about about using a deed of change of name.