Log in to Gingerbread

You need to be logged in to save pages.

Forgotten your password?

Not registered yet?

Our community membership is open to all single parents in England and Wales and gives you access to local and online support, news and events.

Register now

Changing a child’s name

There are various reasons you might be thinking about changing your child’s name. You might want them to have a different last name or have decided the name you gave them at birth isn’t quite right. 

You can informally change the name of a child under 16 without having a particular reason. You can also do this formally on official documents like a passport or birth certificate, as long as everyone with parental responsibility agrees to the change. 

This page explains the different types of name change – how to make them and what they’re likely to cost.

Before changing your child’s name

Think about your child’s best interests

It’s important to really think about what it will mean to change a child’s name. It’s also a good idea to talk to your child about the potential change and take their views on board.

  • Will the name change affect the relationship your child has with their other parent or relatives?
  • Will the change make your child feel more or less secure?
  • How will your child explain their name change to others?
  • If you’re thinking about changing your child’s last name to your new partner’s, is the relationship stable enough to do this? If the relationship ended, how would this affect your child?

Even if your child doesn’t want their name to be changed, you can usually do this without their consent as long as they’re under 16. They might be able to apply for a court order to stop the name change if the court thinks they’re mature enough to fully understand the situation.

Get parental consent

To formally change your child’s name, you’ll need the agreement of everyone with parental responsibility. 

If it isn’t possible to get the agreement of everyone with this responsibility, you might be able to get a court order. This involves filling in a form (C100) and paying £232 to apply. You have to try to reach agreement before asking for a court order.

Bear in mind that you’re more likely to be successful with a court order if you ask to double-barrel your child’s last name (joining your name with their other parent’s) instead of replacing it entirely. This is because you’re not breaking the link to their other parent. You don’t have to have a hyphen, and you can arrange the names in any order. 

See our page on parental responsibility for more.

Ways to change a child’s name

There are 4 ways you can change a child’s name.

  1. Informally
  2. By statutory declaration (an official statement)
  3. By deed poll – this can then be used to change other official documents, like passports
  4. By changing the birth certificate

If you just want to call your child by another name, like their middle name or a nickname, you can start doing this any time. But to make it official, you’ll need to go through a legal process. This page explains the different routes you can take.

Informal name changes

You don’t need official paperwork to start calling your child a new name. You can do this as long as the reason isn’t to deceive or defraud someone. 

It’s almost always best to get the agreement of your child’s other parent before doing this. They could take legal action if they disagree, even if it’s just an informal change. And if they refuse to use the new name, it might upset or confuse your child to be called different names by different people.

It’s also worth considering that schools and other organisations might not agree to use your child’s new name unless it’s been formally changed with the agreement of everyone with parental responsibility.

Using a statutory declaration

This is simply an official statement of a name change. 

This won’t change the name on your child’s birth certificate, but it will make the name change legally official. To prove your child’s identity, you’ll need to show the declaration alongside their birth certificate. Most places will accept a statutory declaration as proof of a name change, but some might ask for a deed poll (see below).  

If you use a statutory declaration to change your child’s name, you can change it again if you need to.

How to get a statutory declaration

You can write your own or have a solicitor do it for you. The declaration will have to be signed under oath at a solicitor’s office. There’s usually a small fee involved.

Changing a name by deed poll

A deed poll is a legal way of showing a name change. It doesn’t change the name on a birth certificate, so you’ll need to show the deed poll and birth certificate to prove your child’s identity. 

A deed poll allows you to go through the process of changing your child’s name on other official documents, like their passport. If you change your child’s name by deed poll, you can change it again by getting another one.

A deed poll takes things one step further than a statutory declaration. In fact, the deed poll application includes a statutory declaration (official statement).

How to get a deed poll

You can either:

  • Make an unenrolled deed poll using a solicitor or specialist deed poll agency
  • Apply for an enrolled deed poll from the Royal Courts of Justice

Many places will only accept an enrolled deed poll – so if you need to prove your child’s identity, check what type you’ll need.

Applying for an enrolled deed poll

You can change your child’s name by enrolled deed poll by filling in the forms on gov.uk. It costs £48.32 to apply.

The application will have to be signed by everyone with parental responsibility to show that they agree, and by 2 witnesses. If you can’t get the other parent’s consent because you don’t know where they are, you’ll have to explain this in the application. It’s important to say how long it’s been since you’ve heard from them, what steps you’ve taken to contact them and give examples of their absence, like not sending their child birthday cards.

Without everyone’s parental consent, you might have to get a court order by filling in a form (C100) and paying £232 to apply. If you’re on a low income, you could be able to get help with solicitor’s fees or ask the court for a fee exemption form. Find out more about legal aid.

Changing a birth certificate

Changing a child’s name by statutory declaration or deed poll doesn’t change their birth certificate. You can only get this changed in certain circumstances.

Correcting a misspelled name

If there’s a mistake on the birth registration, contact the office where the birth was registered to correct this. You’ll need to prove it is a mistake, for example by showing the correct name on your child’s passport or baptismal certificate.

Changing their first name

You can do this once only in the first 12 months after you register their birth. Only parents and legal guardians can make this change.

  • If your child was baptised in a Christian church, the vicar or minister of the church needs to complete a ‘certificate of name given in baptism’ form. They may charge you for this.
  • If your child hasn’t been baptised, you’ll need to complete a ‘certificate of name not given in baptism’ form.

You can get these forms from your local register office. Once you’ve filled in the forms, send them to the office where you registered the birth. 

Changing their last name

Unless you’re correcting a spelling mistake, you can only change your child’s last name on their original birth certificate if you’re reregistering the birth. You can change their last name to either parent’s, or a combination of both, as long as both parents agree.

You can reregister a birth in these circumstances:

  • To record the biological father’s details on the birth record
  • To name the female partner of the child’s mother on the birth record if she’s the legal parent 
  • If the parents get married or civil partnered after the time of the birth
  • If a court issues a declaration of parentage (see below)
Correcting the father’s name

If the wrong person was named as the father on the original birth certificate, you can correct the birth registration.

You’ll need a court order or DNA test showing who the child’s father is. Even if the mother doesn’t agree to correcting the father’s name, the biological father can do this by getting a declaration of parentage from the court (see below).

The child’s name can only be changed if both parents agree.

You can apply to correct a registration online or collect a paper form from your local register office.

If there’s no father registered

If no one was named as father when the birth was registered, you can correct the registration to include the name of the biological father as long as both parents agree. If the mother agrees, the father will also get parental responsibility when the registration is corrected. At this point, you can also change the child’s last name to the biological father’s if both parents agree.

If the mother doesn’t agree to correcting the registration, the father will need a declaration of parentage to do this. 

You can apply to correct a registration online or collect a paper copy from your local register office.

Making a declaration of parentage

This is where the court makes a decision on whether someone is or isn’t the parent of a child. Anyone with a significant connection to the child can apply to court for a declaration of parentage, including a parent or grandparent. If the court makes a declaration of parentage, it will update the child’s birth certificate and inform the General Register Office.

You can apply for a declaration of parentage online (form C63). The form will need to go to the nearest family court to where the child lives. This costs £365, but if you’re on a low income or certain benefits, you might be able to get help with the fee.

Date last updated: 24 April 2024

New Report