UK citizens changing names abroad

We often get asked ‘Where should I change my name?’ Particularly by UK permanent residents who may be citizens of another country, like Australia or New Zealand. Unfortunately, we can’t always provide an answer as each situation is unique, however, we can give you some general information that may help make your decision easier. This information is for people who have numerous records, such as identification, bank accounts and memberships in more than one country.

Where do you intend to live?

If you want to change names for any reason and be known by that name by your friends, family and colleagues, seek to change your name in the country where you will reside for the foreseeable future. A legally recognised name change document can be issued by the local authority in the country where you intend to reside. For instance, if you intend to live in the UK for at least a few years, a UK marriage certificate, divorce decree or deed poll will be accepted by all UK organizations. If you intend to live in Australia in the foreseeable future you may want to prioritise having all your records changed in Australia. Australian authorities require a marriage or legal name change certificate issued by any Australian Births, Deaths and Marriages office.

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Where do you have the most records to change?

Consider which country has the most records that need to be changed. If you have a limited number of records outside the UK you may not need to change names abroad, just ensure you always have your original deed poll handy, plus a photo ID. It’s a good idea to have a copy of your photo ID in your old name too, as you may need to prove your identity when outside the UK. If you have a sufficient number of records in both countries you may need to get an official name change document issued by the relevant authorities in both countries.

Will my UK documents be accepted abroad?

A UK-issued marriage certificate, divorce decree or deed poll will be accepted by all UK organizations when changing names. We can’t advise if your UK proof of name change documents will be accepted abroad as each organisation in every foreign country sets its own proof requirements. To further complicate things, your foreign passport may have different proof requirements from your foreign bank account or driver’s license.  The only way to know if your UK documents will be accepted by organizations abroad is to call each one and ask. If you can get a government-issued photo ID from your second country changed, such as a passport or driver’s license, you may find other companies fall into line. A full list of acceptable name change documents when changing a passport or driver’s license can usually be found online. In many cases, you can have your foreign passport reissued in your new name from the UK. Contact your embassy or high commission for more information.

Do you qualify to change your name abroad?

It is common for a legal name change to only be provided to citizens or permanent residents of a country. While you may hold records abroad, you may not be entitled to have your name changed in that country. For example, to legally change names in Canada some provinces require that you have resided there for 3 to 12 months prior to application. You may also find when making a name change request to an organization abroad that they request documents that you are unable to provide. In this situation, you should explain your situation and insist that your name is changed with the documents you hold. Even if your foreign-issued proof documents are accepted, there may be other issues like needing to attend banks or offices in person when you are not present in the country.

I only have a foreign passport to change

Each country has the right to determine what documents will be accepted when changing names in a passport. You may encounter issues if you travel with a passport issued in one name when all your other identification is in a different name. For dual passport holders, it may be sufficient to only travel with your UK passport and leave your foreign passport as is for now. If your only passport is issued abroad and you have looming travel plans then you should either delay changing your name in the UK until you don’t need to travel, or ensure you can meet the requirements to update your passport asap. Check your country’s passports office website for proof requirements.

Some countries, particularly Australia, are quite stringent and will only accept proof of name change documents issued by their local authority. Usually, this cannot be overruled, however, if you can prove your name in the UK has been changed for a number of years, that you have been known by only that name and you are not planning on residing outside the UK again, your application may be accepted. It is at the passport office’s discretion if they will accept foreign name change documents where they have communicated otherwise. You may just have to go through the process of filing a legal change of name in a second country.

Some countries allow you to legally change names while living abroad. For example, if you are an Australian citizen living in the UK, you can only apply for a legal name change with an Australian Births Deaths and Marriages registry if you were born in that state. Australian citizens born overseas will need to reside in Australia for a minimum period before making an application to legally change their name in Australia. You can Google legal name change for your country to get more information or ask the office issuing your foreign passport for more information.

What else should I consider?

While it may be inconvenient, you may have to lodge a legal name change in both countries. Often this can be done from overseas. While it takes time and costs some money, it may be worth saving the hassle that can come from having 2 different names.

If you change names in the UK and keep all your foreign records under your old name be aware of the risks, particularly when booking travel (only ever book flights under the name that is currently in your passport). If you don’t have a credit card with the same name as your passport be ready for questions. Always travel with sufficient documents that prove your name change. This should include your UK marriage certificate (or divorce decree, birth certificate or deed poll), and if you have an old expired passport or license in your old name, plus your new passport or license it may help.

Can I use an Easy Name Change Kit?

Our name change research has only extended to applicants who are currently residing in the UK and applying to change their name in the UK. As such, we only allow customers to input a UK address, as we cannot deliver printed kits abroad and our procedures and forms may not be accurate when lodged from abroad. You may still choose to purchase a soft copy kit and enter a UK mailing address. Our PDFs can be edited and most companies can be changed, however, your bank and some other organisations may need to wait until you are next present in the UK.

Need more information?

  • Easy Name Change also operates in Australia, Canada and the USA. Each of our regional sites have general information for people living between 2 countries. Click the country link above for more information.
  • If you hold a foreign passport, visit that website for proof requirements or check with their Embassy or High Commission abroad for more information. If you don’t fully understand the requirements or have specific questions you can usually contact Passport customer service via the website for more information. Don’t be afraid to ask for an exception if your proof documents don’t quite match or you have a compelling situation.
  • Outside of this article and the respective information on each regional site, Easy Name Change doesn’t give any further advice on which country to change names in. The decision on where to change names must be made by each applicant based on their own unique circumstances.

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