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How to change your name legally

Updated on August 18, 2013

Change Your Name

People get their names changed for plenty of reasons. Some have been unhappy with the name given to them since birth, others apply for a name change for other reasons, whatever the reason is, while name changing is uncommon in some parts of the world, it is slowly becoming a daily occurrence in the more modern parts of society. In this article, we go about the reasons why people get their names changed and the process to legally change your name in some countries.

Celebrity Name Changers

It is not uncommon for well-known celebrities to legally change their names. Culture Club vocalist, known for their international hits like Karma Chameleon, Boy George was born George Alan O’Dowd. Illusionist and magician extraordinaire David Copperfield was born David Seth Kotkin. These are just some of the plenty of examples of celebrities who have had their names changed legally. Usually, the names start off as a stage name but as popularity grows, these celebrities feel that they have grown into the names and it would be more convenient to alter their stage names into their real names.

Name Change
Name Change

While most stage names appear average and the legal name change is not radical, there are radical instances with names that would definitely get stares from people. Professional wrestler known for his work in the WWF (or known as WWE now), the Ultimate Warrior was born James Hellwig. Hellwig wanted to legally change his name into the Ultimate Warrior but since his name was legally owned by the WWE, he is now officially known as Warrior. Imagine getting pulled over by cops late at night and after being asked what your name is, you mention Warrior. Chances are, the cops will most probably pull you over for DUI.

Changing your name in USA

Getting your name changed legally can be quite a hassle in some countries. In the United States, name changes vary among the different states but generally, in most US states, an individual can apply for a legal name change through a court order. A plea needs to be made to ensure the name change will not be used for illicit dealings and an explanation will be required in front of a judge to ensure that the name change is reasonable. In some instances and states, the individual has to buy ad space in newspapers to inform the public that he or she has legally changed their names. This process could take as much as a whole month as post office address, mailing address and business addresses, including the passport have to be requested for a name change and that takes a significant amount of time.

Changing your name in UK

In the UK, particularly Wales and England, there is absolutely no restriction on legal name changing and individuals can call themselves whatever they wish. This is particularly the case with reality television Big Brother UK contestants Sophie and Frederick, who got their names changed to Dogface and Halfwit respectively to ensure that they get to stay in the Big Brother house. The easiest way to get a legal name change in UK is through deed poll, specifically a deed of change of name, a legal document that binds you to a name change.

Changing your name in India

In India, the process is considerably more difficult since a legal process is involved with the judiciary and the magistrate. This process will bring you to a civil court where an affidavit would have to be filled up by a legal clerk or a paralegal for a small fee. The affidavit would then have to be agreed to and signed by the magistrate where you would have to publish your legal name change in a national newspaper and a government gazette to make it official. The whole process would take some time and money.

Changing your name in Singapore

For a smaller society where government bodies are interlinked like Singapore, a considerable bulk of the process can be completed online and the individual’s name change would be updated electronically. Similar to the UK, a deed poll would have to be completed, usually a legal company could be hired to complete the process more conveniently and the individual’s identity card would have to be replaced for a small sum of money. Once the identity card update is complete, the individual’s name would be updated electronically to over twenty government bodies, so the individual does not have to update their legal name change separately, without going through any hassle.

While some have entirely reasonable reasons for a name change, different countries take different approach in name changing and I urge you to think twice before going through the hassle of name changing. Furthermore, would you really want to be called Dogface for the rest of your life? I bet you don’t! I wish that Big Brother contestant luck!


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    • profile image

      Jules 5 years ago

      I am a performer and my last name is a popular name within a country that is not my ethnicity. So the problem is, is that unfortunately when doing auditions, panels when type casting, have at times not heard me due to assuming that I am of this ethnicity. I.E. My last name is Asian but I am actually Scottish...Do I have to change it Legally or can I just change it for stage? THANKS!

    • stars439 profile image

      stars439 7 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Great hub. Thank You

    • Montana Farm Girl profile image

      Montana Farm Girl 8 years ago from Northwestern Montana

      Very interesting and informative hub!!!! Thanks for sharing the information!