Search guides & insights

What's in a name? How to change your name in Guernsey

18 June 2021

Some clients wish to revert to their previous name on divorce but there may be many other reasons why you wish to change your name, or that of your child.

On marriage, a wife is not required to take her husband's surname but if she does and later divorces then her surname will not automatically revert to her previous name.

The general rule is that you are free to change any part of your name. You can change your first name, your middle names and your surname, or you can remove names or change their spelling. There is no law preventing you from being known by a single name. The minimum length of a name is one letter and there is no maximum length of a name, although the Passport Office and other States of Guernsey departments may seek to limit the maximum number of characters on their standard application forms. If you do change your name then you will need to replace your passport, driving licence and other official documents so this is something to bear in mind at the outset.

As to what you can call yourself common sense, and indeed the law, dictates that you cannot change your name with the intention of committing fraud or to anything that is otherwise against the law, such as names that promote racial or religious hatred or other offensive or demeaning names.

So how do you change your or your child's name in Guernsey?

If you are over the age of 18 then changing your name is usually done by way of a deed poll, even though there is no formal requirement to do so. The deed poll is presented to the Contracts Court which normally sits on a Tuesday and Thursday morning. Post Covid an advocate can attend without the client if a Power of Attorney has been signed. The deed poll is then registered at the Greffe and certified copies are provided for circulation. The deed is effective immediately.

In relation to children, the general rule is that you cannot change your child's name unless you have the permission of every person who has parental responsibility or by Court Order. In the event that both parents who have parental responsibility agree that the child's name should be changed then an application must be made to the Greffe. Such applications are dealt with in a closed session at the end of the Contracts Court.

If you require any assistance or further information regarding change of name please contact Adrian Brown on adrian.brown@collascrill.com.