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Pick a Name, Any Name

Posted by Andrew at 3:49 PM on August 25, 2010

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal recently, Google’s Eric Schmidt suggested that teens will automatically change their name in order to disassociate themselves from the indiscretions of youth.  While this might seem to be a somewhat extreme action to take, how easy is it to actually change your name?

If you live in the UK, it’s actually very easy.  All you have to do is start using your new name.  As long as there’s no intention to deceive or defraud, that’s it.  Pretty easy.

If you want to make it it a bit more formal so that it’s on your passport and driving licence, you can use a “deed poll” to change your name.  You  fill out a simple form, get it witnessed and that’s it legal.  You then present the deed poll whenever you want to get your old name changed to your new name.  Job done.

One further and final step is to “enrol” your deed poll which then becomes part of the public record.  All of these deed polls are published in the London, Edinburgh or Belfast Gazettes and there is a charge for this service of around £50 ($75).

There’s a guide to changing your name by deed poll and enrolling it on Her Majesty’s Court Service.   If you do a quick Google, you’ll find plenty of websites (a) wanting to charge for the service and (b) testimonies of people who have done it for free.  I liked this one who changed his name legally to “Flash” because he was going to be forced to answer the phone with his real name.

It’s perhaps more common than you think.  I know one couple personally who, instead of the wife adopting the surname of the husband, they created a new surname that combined parts of both of their original surnames.  They took care with how it sounded and it worked out well.

So Eric Schmidt might be onto something if it’s that easy – the difficult part is going to be choosing a new name.

Usual disclaimer – I’m not a lawyer and the above doesn’t constitute legal advice.

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