Many people think this is simple, but it turns out that a "name" is far from a simple matter.
- Some countries have the concept of an "official name" - one name that you have officially that the state recognises, and anything else is a nickname or false name of some sort.
- Some countries even have a list of approved first names, one of which you must use when naming your child!
- Some countries allow a name to be just one word.
- But in England it is not so simple.
Changing your name in England is also surprisingly simple - you make a deed poll - a simple declaration saying you will use a new name now. It is not an "official" document, as there is not a government office that issues it - you issue it yourself. You don't register the deed poll anywhere either, you just tell everyone that has your name and use it as evidence of that name change. Sadly, you typically need something that looks official to convince a bank, etc, as they don't understand how it works. There is a really good web site that will make an official looking deed poll for you for free www.freedeedpoll.org.uk
You can, of course, find all of this with a bit of googling. If you are thinking of changing your name, do not get ripped off - it is not something you have to pay for (though some bodies such as passport office may charge to issue a new document in your new name).
There are some caveats, but the main one is that your name change must not be to commit fraud. It is not a way to hide from your creditors. Interestingly that web site says you have to have at least two names (i.e. first name and surname), which disagrees with some people.
One thing I have failed to find while googling is whether there is any legal reason not to have more than one name. Even a passport can have also known as names on the observations page. Indeed, the passport guidelines reference the possibility of a woman that uses her husband's name and her maiden name rather than using one name for all purposes which seems to suggest that the concept of someone that does use more than one name is legally valid. It seems to me that some people are known by one name in some circles and another name in other circles and both are equally "valid". If anyone has any references, do let me know.
My issue is that I am known as "Thrall Horde" to thousands of people on FaceBook, and have been for years. I don't hide that I am known as Adrian Kennard in other circles, and there is no fraud. But FaceBook are now insisting that is not an "authentic name". I am probably known as "Thrall Horde" by more people than known me as "Adrian Kennard" as FaceBook has quite some reach.
So, I am pondering what to do. I am reluctant to just give in and put Adrian Kennard - not really my nature is it :-) FaceBook say they can accept some non-government ID documents, such two different documents from a list. Many of the items on that list I can get with any name I like with no fraud involved - i.e. I can declare that I am using that name to my employer and have business cards issued in that name (and if I like I can then declare that I am using Adrian Kennard again).
If it is legal to have more than one name concurrently if not fraudulently, I am happy to make a declaration that I am known as Thrall Horde as well as Adrian Kennard, but I think the usual wording on a deed poll is that I stop using the old name. Would be nice to know if there is case law on this. I could certainly apply to have Thrall Horde on the observations page of my passport with no problem (i.e. as a stage name).
I could, perhaps, do a deed poll, get a new driving licence, and then send to FaceBook. And then just do another deed poll changing my name back, get a new driving licence, and not tell FaceBook. Maybe I'll try a company ID card and some mail or something first...
By the way, before anyone says I agreed to these terms so why am I whinging - I did not actually make the FaceBook account. Someone else did, and gave me the login details. I never read or agreed FaceBook's terms anyway. Not that it is likely to make much difference. Indeed, the "real name" thing is something I only recently heard of when the same happened to a friend of mine.
I could just ditch FaceBook I guess, though I have spent nearly £2000 on advertising with them over the years, so I think it is their loss if I do.
But I wonder, can I legally have two different names?
Update: I may give in for now - I have to put a name in so I can cancel the paid promotion of my privacy post - not going to spend any more with FaceBook after this fiasco.
P.S. This is what a deed poll looks like