Change of name of a child
Change of name of a child

The following Family guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Change of name of a child
  • Children's surnames at registration
  • Change of a child's surname
  • Procedure—application to change a child's surname
  • Refusal to order name change
  • Name change permitted
  • Change of name by deed poll
  • Change of child's forename
  • Home Office guidance on use and change of names

Children's surnames at registration

A child's birth must be registered within 42 days of birth.BDRA 1953, s 2

The surname entered on the register is the surname by which at the date of registration it is intended that the child shall be known.Registration of Births and Deaths Regulations 1987, SI 1987/2088

The register cannot itself be amended to record a subsequent change of surname. However, a child's surname can be changed subsequently by deed poll or, informally, by the use of a different name.

The duty to register the child's birth is:

  1. both parents' where the child's parents are married

  2. the mother's when the parents are not married

An unmarried father cannot prevent the mother choosing the name of the child for the purposes of the register but, in the event of disagreement he may issue an application for a specific issue order under the Children Act 1989 (ChA 1989).ChA 1989, s 8

Change of a child's surname

Where one or both parents wish to change a child's surname the position varies depending on whether they are married or share parental responsibility or if there is a court order in place:

  1. where the parents are married and they both wish to change the child's surname this can be done without a court order—it may be done simply by informal usage; there is no legal requirement to record it in a change of name deed but it is good practice to do so and some agencies, eg HM Passport Office, may require documentary evidence of the name change, see: Change of name by deed poll

  2. where two or more people