There may be any number of reasons why a person would want to change their name. Besides the obvious reasons of marriage and adoption, which generally include a legal name change, people may change their name to disassociate from something negative or infamous, or may simply wish to give themselves a name that is more usable. Whatever the reason, the process for obtaining a name change varies depending on where you live, but is fairly easy to accomplish.
In the United States, a legal name change can be obtained through a court order. Though the specific process may vary slightly from state to state, any US citizen has the right to change their name, either through common law or court procedure. Even though a person may change their name at will and operate a business, write a book, or even sue someone under a different name, it is generally legally recognized so long as there was no fraudulent intent involved.
Still, it is more efficient in the US to obtain a name change through the courts. A simple filing of an application in civil court along with a nominal fee is all that is required. The applicant can probably expect to provide a valid and reasonable explanation for desiring the name change. Further, the court can rule against a name change if the applicant is attempting to change their name to something obviously offensive or immoral, or is attempting to commit fraud.
In the United Kingdom, a legal name change can be obtained through an act of Parliament if it applies to nobility. Otherwise, a Deed of Change of Name or simply, deed poll, is most commonly used. A deed poll involves a simple form to be filled out and signed by a witness. The form is then placed on file with the court. A bank or other official institution will recognize a Deed of Change of Name as legal, but the document does not change one’s birth certificate. Thus, some situations, such as obtaining a passport, require both a birth certificate and the Deed of Change of Name for purposes of identification.
In Quebec, a legal name change generally must be authorized by the Director of Civil Status, who can also amend birth certificates upon authorization. Many governments in other parts of the world are very strict about name changes and most require government authorization before a name change is declared. In most cases, a person must prove that their present name causes or will cause them significant distress before a name change will be considered.
If you wish to obtain a legal name change, then be prepared to start by contacting the proper government office or official for where you currently reside. Also be prepared to produce a legal birth certificate and a logical explanation for your name change. In the United States, marriage, adoption, and citizenship are examples of situations in which the opportunity for a name change is included in the legalities.