Are there any restrictions on names?

Surprisingly the law doesn’t impose any restrictions on what names you can use. The law simply says:

‘If a person wants to use a new name, not for the purposes of fraud or deceit, a court of law has no power to control the actions of such a person’ Common Law: Cowley v Cowley [1901] AC 450

Having said this, when updating your documents and records to show your new name, government departments, companies and organisations (such as HM Passport Office) will take into consideration what is deemed to be practicable and appropriate before they will change your documents and records to show your new name.

This simply means that you may encounter problems if you choose a name that -

  • Doesn’t include at least one forename and surname
  • Includes numbers or symbols
  • Includes punctuation marks other than hyphens or apostrophes
  • Includes words considered to be vulgar, offensive or blasphemous
  • Includes words that promote criminal activities, racial or religious hatred, derides those of recognised minority groups, or promotes the use of controlled drugs
  • Is a combination of names which makes up a phrase or saying not normally considered to be a name

If none of the above applies to you, your new name will be accepted by all the relevant government departments, organisations and companies, so you don't need to worry about any restrictions.

However, if any of the above does apply to you, click on this link to go to our FAQs section for more information about restrictions on names.

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