How to change your name after marriage

19 May 2017

New bride Jessica Bennett shares her experience of changing her maiden name with the guidance and service of NameSwitch

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I’m sure everyone says it, but I had the perfect wedding day. The smile has not left my face since, as I have been greeted everywhere with "Hello Mrs Bennett".

Yes, just a wave of the marriage certificate in the appropriate directions and I am now known officially as Mrs Bennett, right? Wrong. The hassle of officially changing my name has been the one and only thing to make my smile droop, just a fraction. 

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What's in a name?

I have taken the somewhat unusual (but increasingly common) decision to keep my maiden name as a second middle name. Sounds fairly straightforward, but unfortunately not. Name changes that would have once been easy (e.g. showing my marriage certificate at the bank would have been enough to change the name on my accounts) are met by follow-up demands to see a deed poll.

It took me ages to find out what a deed poll is and how to get one. Google, along with some fairly disingenuous lawyers I spoke to, would have you pay significant amounts of money to get a change of name document printed on fancy paper with an official-looking yet ultimately pointless ‘seal’. I eventually discovered deed polls are entirely free and you can download the wording you need from the government website.

Hurdle one successfully negotiated, hurdle two is figuring out how and why different institutions have such different ways of doing things. Do I need a special form? Do I need a copy of my marriage certificate? Do you need something with my address on, too? I was particularly amused by the fact my dentist required no evidence of my marriage whatsoever, but my local library wanted to see photo ID. I may receive drugs and medical treatment, but heaven forbid I should borrow a book without proving my new identity.

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Who to tell when you change your name

So, it was with some scepticism I approached NameSwitch. Some heavy sighs and cries of: "I hadn’t even thought about them" followed as I perused the list of organisations to inform. But this turned out to be one of the site’s blessings, as it offers a checklist of who you need to tell about your name change. No need to mentally assess your life and all the organisations you interact with that need your new details – it’s all there for you; just select which are relevant.

In the end, I chose 13 of the companies listed and there was also the ‘other’ option for companies not listed. I used this option and NameSwitch provided me with a handy letter template to use for that one.

Another blessing was how straightforward NameSwitch was to use. I had to enter my details just once, click a button, and a zip file of all the PDFs I needed landed in my 'downloads' folder. In some instances, it was simply a case of printing and posting – even covering letters are provided. Also included was a handy set of instructions, complete with the exact links to various websites if needed and pointers for completing the more complex forms (Land Registry, I’m looking at you).

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Though I didn’t use the function (because the process was so quick and easy), it’s also possible to enter your details, save and come back to them at a later date. If you’re more organised than I am, this means you can have everything ready to go at the click of a button as soon as you say ‘I do’. If you’re even more organised, you can put it on your wedding gift list so that a helpful guest can gift it to you.

While it’s true some of the forms provided are free to obtain, it is impossible to underestimate the amount of time saved by using NameSwitch. I assumed that as hundreds of thousands of people get married every year, changing my name afterwards would be simple. But forms can be buried in the depths of websites, filling them out is sometimes confusing and difficult, and finding out where they have to be sent and what supporting documents they require is another challenge. What you’re really buying is time, saving a lot of stress in the process.

And, with NameSwitch pointing me in the right direction, there were several switches I was able to complete in one afternoon. Changing my details with the Student Loans Company, my mobile phone provider, my utilities provider, the TV license and electoral roll were all a case of a short online form or phone call away.

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What happens next?

All in all, using the NameSwitch service took no more than an hour. I went from wanting to change my name to clutching a handful of pre-filled in forms ready to post, and a handy list of people to call and websites to visit.

Now, I face a waiting game as the updated bank cards, membership cards, passport, driving licence, electoral roll details, etc., slowly (and I mean slowly) trickle through my letterbox. If only the organisations had a simple tool like NameSwitch at their end to make it all run quicker.

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What is it? 

NameSwitch is an exciting new service that helps newlyweds (and divorcees) cut through the name changing process using smart, secure automation.

The online service is completed in three simple steps:

  1. Choose who to notify from hundreds of UK companies and government bodies.
  2. Enter your details once. The unique automation completes the forms for you.
  3. Download, sign and send your completed personalised letters, forms and documents 

Visit NameSwitch to download your free NameChange Checklist.