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If a person wishes to be known by a different name they are entitled to change their name at any time. They can change their title, forename and/or surname, add names or rearrange their existing names. In Scotland there is no set legal procedure that they must follow in order to change a name. They can simply start using the new name.
People who are exploring their gender identity, and trans people who have not transitioned, usually just informally use a different name among certain friends – in a similar way as the many non-trans people who use a shortened version of a longer name among friends. It is perfectly legal for any trans person to use two different names (as long as they are not doing so to defraud anyone) and to have some documents in each name.
Trans people often permanently change their name on their official documents once they have reached the stage in their transition where they are living full-time as the gender which matches their gender identity.
Although anyone can change their name informally, there are some circumstances, such as applying for a passport or getting a bank account switched into their new name, when formal written evidence of the change of name is required.
The easiest and cheapest method is a statutory declaration (see below for an example). A practising solicitor, notary public, or other officer of a court authorised by law to administer an oath, needs to witness you signing it. As many organisations want an original copy of your statutory declaration, you should also ask for several certified photocopies. The cost should be less than ten pounds with a solicitor or notary public, but will be free if you use a Justice of the Peace at your local court.
To arrange for a Justice of the Peace to witness your statutory declaration, you can find your local court and book an appointment at: https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/ (sometimes you have to wait a few weeks depending on the area where you live)
Changing the name of a child (under the age of 16) can only be done by someone who has parental responsibilities for the child. If more than one person has parental responsibilities for the child, they must either all agree to the change of name or, if there is disagreement, a court application for permission to change the child’s name will be needed.
Different organisations have different processes for updating your name (and gender) with them. Your statutory declaration can be used with all of these organisations as evidence.
Find out how to update the name (and gender) on your passport: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/applying-for-a-passport-information-for-transgender-and-transsexual-customers
Find out how to update the name (and gender) on your driving licence: https://www.gov.uk/change-name-driving-licence
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Scottish Trans is part of the Equality Network
Scottish Trans is the Equality Network project to improve gender identity and gender reassignment equality, rights and inclusion in Scotland. The Equality Network is a leading Scottish lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality and human rights charity.
The Equality Network is a registered Scottish charity: SC037852, and a company limited by guarantee: SC220213.
We are grateful for funding from the Scottish Government