Legally Change your Name by Deed Poll
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Most Popular   >How to Witness your Deed Poll

How to Witness your Deed Poll

1. Choosing a Witness

1. Selecting a WitnessEligibility Criteria for Witnesses in the UKFor individuals holding British nationality and residing within the United Kingdom, the process of selecting a witness for your Deed Poll is governed by specific criteria to ensure the witness is appropriately qualified. The witness must:

Reside in the United Kingdom: This requirement ensures that the witness is accessible within the same legal jurisdiction.

Be at least 18 years of age: This confirms the witness is legally an adult, capable of undertaking legal responsibilities.

Have a longstanding acquaintance with you: It is essential that the witness is familiar with you by your original name to affirm your identity before and after the name change.

Be independent of you: The witness must not have any familial, romantic, or cohabitational ties with you to prevent any potential conflicts of interest. This ensures the witness's impartiality.

Possess full mental capacity: The ability to make autonomous decisions, unaffected by any mental impairments or disturbances, is crucial. The presumption is that an individual has full mental capacity unless proven otherwise.

Potential Witnesses

Your witness can be anyone who meets the above requirements, including but not limited to:

- Friends
- Neighbours
- Work Colleagues
- Doctors
- Accountants
- Other professionals

Utilising Your Deed Poll Internationally

Should you require your Deed Poll for international purposes, to affirm your name change abroad, it must be certified or witnessed by a Notary Public.

Engaging a Notary Public

A Notary Public is a legal professional authorised to perform acts in legal affairs, in particular witnessing documents for use internationally. If your Deed Poll needs to be certified for use within the UK, obtaining certification from a qualified solicitor is advisable. This typically incurs a fee ranging from £20-£30.

To locate a solicitor who can certify your Deed Poll, the Law Society's "Find a Solicitor" service is an invaluable resource.By adhering to these detailed guidelines, you ensure that the process of witnessing your Deed Poll is conducted with the utmost rigour and legality, facilitating a smooth transition to your new name both within the UK and abroad.

How long does my witness need to have known me to serve as a witness for my Deed Poll?

When choosing a witness for the execution of your Deed Poll, one critical factor to consider is the duration over which the witness has known you. The witness must have a substantial and meaningful acquaintance with you, ideally having known you for a considerable period.

This requirement is put in place to ensure that the witness can confidently attest to your identity, particularly with respect to your original name before the change. It's essential that this individual can vouch for your consistent identity over time, providing a layer of authentication to the Deed Poll process. Although no specific minimum duration is mandated, it is advisable that the witness has known you long enough to fully understand and acknowledge the significance of the name change and to affirm your identity confidently.

This duration should be sufficient to establish a credible and trustworthy relationship, thereby reinforcing the validity of their testimony in the witnessing of your Deed Poll.

2. Before your Witness Signs the Deed Poll

Prior to the act of witnessing your Deed Poll, a crucial step involves a comprehensive briefing for your chosen witness about the nature and implications of the Deed Poll document. Once a suitable witness has been identified, it is imperative to engage in a detailed explanation of the Deed Poll's purpose, emphasising its role as a legally binding instrument that formally evidences your decision to change your name.

This discussion should underscore the gravity and permanence of the name change, ensuring the witness fully comprehends the legal responsibilities and implications of their endorsement.It is highly recommended to allow the witness ample opportunity to thoroughly review the contents of the Deed Poll.

This ensures they are fully informed and comfortable with the statements they are endorsing, reinforcing their confidence in acting as your witness. Their complete agreement and willingness to sign are paramount, as their signature lends credence and legal weight to the document.Furthermore, best practice dictates that the witness be provided with one of the certified copies of the signed Deed Poll.

This serves multiple purposes: it offers a measure of security by having a verifiable record of the document they witnessed, should its authenticity ever be questioned, and it ensures the witness is fully aware of the exact content of the document they have endorsed. Additionally, keeping a certified copy in the possession of someone trustworthy, apart from the witness, is advisable. This redundancy measure safeguards against the potential loss or misplacement of your Deed Poll, ensuring that a copy is always retrievable to affirm the validity of your name change.

This preparatory step is not only a matter of due diligence but also establishes a foundation of transparency and trust between you and your witness, reinforcing the integrity and seriousness with which the name change process is approached..

3. Detailed Procedure for Signing and Dating the Deed Poll (Executing your Deed Poll)

The act of signing and dating your Deed Poll is a crucial step in the legal process of changing your name, requiring precise execution in the presence of your witness. This procedure not only formalises your intent to adopt a new name but also ensures the document's legal standing. Here’s a detailed overview of the process:

Dual Signature Protocol

You are required to sign the Deed Poll twice, adhering to a specific sequence that reflects your transition from your old name to your new chosen name. This dual-signature approach serves a dual purpose, symbolically and legally marking the transition between identities.

Signature in Your Old Name:

Initially, you must sign the Deed Poll using your old name. This signature is a legal acknowledgement of your identity up to the point of signing the document, effectively representing your consent to relinquish your former name.

Signature in Your New Name:

Following the signature in your old name, you must then sign the Deed Poll in your new name. This act is a declaration of your acceptance and commitment to your new identity. It is important that this new signature reflects the signature you intend to use consistently in all future legal, professional, and personal documents. However, it is recognized that in cases where a signature may not be legible, the form of the signature need not change — the primary concern is the name to which the signature is attributed, rather than the stylistic elements of the signature itself.

Please Note: Your new signature should be the signature you want to 

Sign the deed poll twice — once in your new name, and then again in your old name in the space underneath.

Your “new” signature should be the signature you want to use from now on when signing other documents. (Although if your signature is unreadable, then your “old” and “new” signatures can just be the same — you don’t have to change it if you don’t want to.)
Your witness should be physically present and be able to watch you write your signature.
You also need to date the deed poll (with the current date). For example  20th March 2013

Presence and Observation by the Witness

The entire signing process must be conducted in the direct presence of your witness. This requirement ensures that there is an independent verification of your execution of the Deed Poll, affirming that the signatures are genuine and made without any undue pressure.

The witness's role is to observe each signature being affixed to the document, thereby certifying that the individual signing the document is indeed the person they claim to be, transitioning from their old name to their new name.

Dating the Deed Poll

Once the Deed Poll has been signed in both your old and new names, the final step is to date the document. The date should reflect the day on which the Deed Poll is signed, serving as the official moment from which your name change is to be recognised legally.

For instance, if the Deed Poll is signed on the 20th of March, 2013, this exact date should be clearly written on the document. Dating the Deed Poll is crucial as it marks the legal commencement of your new name's validity.

This comprehensive approach to signing and dating your Deed Poll in front of a witness is not only a legal necessity but also a significant personal milestone. It ensures that your decision to change your name is documented formally and recognised by law, facilitating a smooth transition to your new identity across all aspects of your life.

4. Witness Endorsement of the Deed Poll
Following your completion of the signing process, it is essential for your witness to then provide their own signature on the Deed Poll. This act of signing by the witness serves as a formal endorsement of your name change. The witness must personally sign the document, affirming their presence during your signing and acknowledging the legitimacy of the process.

After affixing their signature, the witness is required to inscribe their full name, residential address, and their occupation directly beneath their signature. This information is not merely procedural but establishes a traceable and verifiable point of contact, adding an additional layer of authenticity and credibility to the document. The inclusion of the witness's occupation, in particular, lends a professional context to their endorsement, reinforcing the seriousness with which the witness regards the document they are signing.

This step is pivotal, as the witness’s endorsement confirms that the Deed Poll has been executed correctly and in accordance with legal requirements, thereby validating the document's status as a binding legal instrument for the purpose of your name change.

5. Finalising Your Deed Poll with Certified Copies
After successfully signing your Deed Poll and having it witnessed, the next crucial step involves the certified copies, often referred to as duplicate originals.

These certified copies are exact replicas of the original Deed Poll and serve as legitimate legal documents in their own right. For comprehensive coverage and ease during the name change process, it is advisable to order between 15 to 20 certified copies.

Importance of Certified Copies

The recommendation to secure between 15 to 20 certified copies is grounded in practicality. Each organisation or institution you engage with to update your records—be it banks, passport offices, DVLA, or educational institutions—will require an original document to process your name change.

Having multiple certified copies allows you to send them to different agencies simultaneously, thereby expediting the process of updating your personal records across various platforms without delays. Additionally, possessing an adequate number of certified copies mitigates the risk of potential inconveniences should a copy be misplaced or delayed in return.

Execution Process

You and your witness must replicate the signing process for each of these certified copies in the same meticulous manner as the original Deed Poll. This consistency ensures that every copy maintains its validity as a legal document.

Your witness's signature on each certified copy confirms their authenticity, reinforcing their acceptance as legal evidence of your name change.Once all the certified copies are duly executed, your Deed Poll, along with its duplicates, becomes fully valid and operational. You can then proceed to use these documents immediately for the purpose of updating your name across all legal, professional, and personal records.

There is no need to return any of these documents to the issuing authority, as they are now your personal copies for distribution as required.This structured approach not only legitimises your new name across multiple fronts but also streamlines the transition, allowing you to navigate the name change process with greater ease and efficiency.

Summary of the Deed Poll Execution and Certification Process in the United Kingdom

To summarise, the process of executing a Deed Poll in the United Kingdom involves several detailed steps to ensure its legal validity and the smooth transition to your new name. Firstly, selecting an appropriate witness is crucial; they must be a British national residing in the UK, over 18, acquainted with you for a significant period, independent of you, and fully capable of making decisions.

This witness could be a friend, neighbour, colleague, or professional such as a doctor or accountant. For international use of your Deed Poll, certification by a Notary Public is necessary, with solicitors available for certification within the UK.

The witness must be thoroughly briefed on the Deed Poll's purpose and implications, ensuring their understanding and agreement to sign. They should also be given a certified copy for verification purposes. When signing the Deed Poll, you are required to sign once in your old name and once in your new name, with the witness present to observe. The document must then be dated to mark the official name change

Your witness must then endorse the Deed Poll by signing it and adding their name, address, and occupation, adding a layer of authenticity. It's recommended to order between 15 to 20 certified copies of the Deed Poll to facilitate updating your records across various institutions without delay, each of which must be signed and witnessed in the same manner as the original.

This comprehensive process not only formalises your name change but also ensures that your new identity is recognised across all official documents and records, enabling a seamless transition to your new name without the need to return any documents to the issuing authority.