Juan Eu Konek

Why Changing Your Name In Your Passport Is Not As Easy As It Seems

By Micah Lee and Kyla Donnelly

Her Majesty’s Passport Office (‘HMPO’) introduced a ‘One Name for All Purposes’ policy in 2015 and requires individuals to use one name for all official purposes and documentation. It aims to protect the public from criminal and fraudulent passport use.

Since 2019, HMPO have taken a stricter approach when issuing British passports for first-time Applicants. Particularly if the Applicant holds a foreign passport. For example, Ferrera Rocher is a Philippine national. She recently became a naturalised British Citizen and wishes to apply for her first British passport. A few years ago, Ferrera changed her name by way of deed poll and/or statutory declaration to Ferrera Cadbury. However, her Filipino passport identifies her by her original name, Ferrera Rocher. Therefore, her name on her foreign passport and application do not match. The deed poll and/or statutory declaration will be deemed as insufficient by HMPO. 

(A deed poll is a legal document that proves a change of name applied through the court, while the statutory declaration of change of name is a formal legal document that confirms identity of a person, and normally the applicant will need to swear an oath in front of a solicitor and another witness.)

The Home Office stated that “holders of non-British passports and national identity cards must also provide evidence they have amended the details in other passport(s) and any national identity cards they hold. The names used in these documents take precedent to names used in other supporting documents, such as marriage certificates or deed poll.” To simplify this, if the name in your foreign passport is still under your original or old name, then the HMPO will prioritise this foreign document over any deed poll or statutory declaration.

Upon enquiring the Philippine Embassy in London regarding the Home Office’s ‘One Name for All Purposes’ policy, they confirm that once the Applicant becomes a naturalised British Citizen, they automatically renounced their citizenship. Therefore, the Applicant is no longer identified as a Filipino citizen and their Philippine passport is no longer valid.  Despite this, the Home Office has insisted the Applicant would hold dual nationality and therefore, applying the ‘One Name for All Purposes’ policy.

There are exceptions to this policy, and HMPO will consider the following (knowledge base) such as, but not limited to: legal, cultural, social and technical restrictions of other countries that prevent them from changing their name on their foreign passport or if their foreign passport is lost or stolen;

If the Applicant does not meet the exceptions listed above, HMPO will occasionally apply the ‘administrative fairness test’. This is to ensure they make a reasonable and fair decision and consider the Applicant’s circumstances. The HMPO will consider the information and evidence provided by the Applicant, the risk of Applicant’s using multiple identities, and if it is fair for the Applicant to align their foreign document to their British passport, based on the Applicant’s individual circumstances. 

In the event HMPO decides that it is unreasonable for the Applicant to change their name on their foreign document, they will be issued with a valid passport. However, they will be recommended to align their name prior to renewing their next British passport.

In the event HMPO decides it is reasonable for the Applicant to change their name on their foreign document, they will not issue a passport until they change their name on their foreign document to match the name on their passport application OR provide evidence that they have made an application to change the name on their foreign document. 

Applicants facing a similar position may be left with a complicated and stressful process ahead. However, this is dependent on the Applicant’s circumstances and how it is processed by HMPO.