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ANSWERED on Wed 22 Apr 2009 - 2:18 pm UTC by David Sarokin

Question: How to change your identity (UK)?

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 19 Apr 2009 23:49 UTCSun 19 Apr 2009 - 11:49 pm UTC 

Research for something I am writing at the moment. If you were, hypothetically, to want to create a new identity, what would be the quickest and most effective way to do it? Change of identity here means going by a different name and being able to get identification in that name, which is valid to travel - so, driving license, passport etc. I know that there is a technique used in "The Day of the Jackal" involving obtaining the birth certificate of a dead person, but the aim here is not identity theft, but the creation of a whole new identity and the decommissioning of the old.

The identity would not be a "false" identity, but a change of identity, which would be reflected on all documentation. Is there a single service that will update all bank details etc, or would one need to contact every organisation with a record of your name individually?

Please note, this question refers to the Untied Kingdom.


David Sarokin 


 20 Apr 2009 00:13 UTCMon 20 Apr 2009 - 12:13 am UTC 


It sounds as if you are asking about a person legally changing their name.  If that's the case, there are ways to do this in the UK.

1.  In a few cases, it's possible to legally change the name on one's birth certificate.  For example, if your father is unknown at birth, and you later discover his identity, you can have your birth certificate legally changed to reflect his surname.

2.  For the most part, though, people change names by filing a Deed of Change of Name, more commonly known as a Deed Poll. 

In either event, the changing of the name is not terribly onerous.  But it's usually up to the individual to then make all subsequent changes to, eg, your employer, bank accounts and the like.

Here's a good background page on Deed Polls:


Let me know, more specifically, what sort of information you need to make for a full answer to your question.





 22 Apr 2009 00:00 UTCWed 22 Apr 2009 - 12:00 am UTC 

Thanks for this - what I am looking for was almost a reset button on one's identity - a service whereby you could change your name legal y and have that change cascaded down through all manifestations of your identity (tax profile, passport, driving license, bills etc) - so, the previous identity would cease effectively and immediately to be. It sounds, however, as if one has to change one's name by deed poll and then change one's passport and so on - just as one would if one changed one's name after marriage by deed poll.

Could you tell me in which cases it is possible to change your name on your birth certificate, and how one would go about it?


David Sarokin 


 22 Apr 2009 14:18 UTCWed 22 Apr 2009 - 2:18 pm UTC 


Thanks for clarifying what you're after.

The site I linked to earlier also has a terrific overview page on exactly this topic: 

Can a birth certificate be changed?

You can see from the entries there that the rules vary between  England/Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, as do the procedures for making the change. 

However, the main options available are as follows:

1.  A child's forename can be changed on the official birth records if the change is made soon after birth. 

2.  A child's surname can be changed on the birth records from the mother's to the father's surname under some circumstances, and in some jurisdictions.

3.  If a person changes gender and obtains a Gender Recognition Certificate, a new birth certificate can be issued. 

A colleague of mine in the UK tells me that it is also possible for an individual to get a new birth certificate as a participant in a Witness Protection program. 

I could find no details about this particular option, which is not surprising, as by its very nature, the specifics of a program like this are kept secret.  However, it seems likely that a change of identity through a Witness Protection Program comes closest to the sort of identity "reset button" you were asking about. 

I trust this information fully meets your needs, but if there's anything more I can do for you, just let me know by posting a Clarification request.

All the best,



Roger Browne 


 22 Apr 2009 14:39 UTCWed 22 Apr 2009 - 2:39 pm UTC 

If you get a new birth certificate after being issued a Gender Recognition Certificate, the new birth certificate can also include a completely new name, without the need for a Deed Poll.




 11 Sep 2014 13:44 UTCThu 11 Sep 2014 - 1:44 pm UTC 

If I were you I would issue a Deed Poll application, have it witnessed and provide a duplicate copy of this Deed Poll to all the relevant organisations: Passport Office, DVLA, Doctors etc. Once you change your name, who do you think can trace you? Unless the person has your new name? It works as you have a new identity without actually changing the name of your birth certificate. Sounds fair to me! Good luck.

I will post a link of another Deed Poll website as an alternative to the one David posted - http://www.ukdeedpolloffice.org/how-to-change-your-name-with-us/




 16 Mar 2016 18:19 UTCWed 16 Mar 2016 - 6:19 pm UTC 

Oneself be wanting to do this, albeit, at a later date (after the death of remaining parent).
Alas, Deed Poll requires the participation of two independent witnesses (people who have known you for ten (?) years or more and are not related).
If like Moi you have few close friends this annoying stipulation could prove to be most difficult, not to mention counterproductive  ? !
If anyone out there knows of a way around this (are there any people who would sign for a small fee ?) - please let us know.


Roger Browne 


 16 Mar 2016 18:25 UTCWed 16 Mar 2016 - 6:25 pm UTC 

incognito, when I changed my name to remove an unwanted middle name, all of the paperwork was completed at the lawyer's office, and was witnessed by the staff there. There was no requirement for the witnesses to have known me for any length of time; they were simply witnessing my signing of the document. This was in the UK.

If you are located somewhere other than the UK, you could post and fund a new question at Uclue, and we could look into options available in your jurisdiction.


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