This week the National Records of Scotland published the top 100 lists of most popular names for babies whose births were registered in 2016. There are no particularly surprising names within the top 100 lists (Olivia and Jack remain the most popular) but what happens if you are a Benson or Hedges or a Zowie or Towie and you want to change your name?
In Scotland, you can call yourself anything you want without any formality. However; if you want to formally record your change of name, or that of your child, you can do so by applying to the National Register of Births Deaths and Marriages. The application process is largely a straightforward form filling exercise, the end result of which is a new Birth Certificate showing the new name of you or your child. The costs are not onerous; the current fee for an application to change a name is £40 and the cost of the first extract birth certificate is £15. This procedure is only open to any person whose birth is registered in Scotland, or in Scotland’s adopted children register, parental order register or gender recognition register. People born in England or Wales will still need to rely on the Deed Poll procedure if they wish to change their names.
If the person whose name is to be changed is under 16 years of age, the application must be made by both parents, assuming that both hold parental responsibilities. If only one parent has parental responsibilities, then only that parent is required to sign the necessary form. Where neither biological parent has parental responsibilities, any other person who has them can apply.
There is a limit to the number of times someone can formally change their name: Only one change of forename(s) and one change of surname(s) may be recorded for a child under 16. If a change of forename(s) in infancy has already been recorded (i.e. within the first 12 months of the child’s life), then no further change of forename(s) may be recorded before the child reaches 16. This does not, however, prevent the recording of a change of surname. If a person is aged 16 years of age and over, one change of forename(s) and up to three changes of surname(s) may be recorded. A period of 5 years must elapse between successive changes of surname(s).