Why is it called a Deed Poll?

“Learn how it all began”

A deed poll is a written legal document (signed in the presence of a witness) that signifies a person’s consent to three important declarations. These declarations include the abandonment of the former name of the person and the use of a new name for all future documents, records, salutations and correspondences. The polls trace back to the mid-19th Century when they were first used in the U.K. for a declaring a change of name.

The term “deed” is used to refer to a written legal agreement that has been duly signed and stamped and delivered to all the concerned parties (contracting parties, fiduciaries, beneficiaries and others). On the other hand, the word “poll” is an old English term used to describe a legal document that had been cut around its edges so as to make it straight.


Unlike a normal agreement that becomes void in the absence of consideration, a deed is a written undertaking that is not backed by any consideration at all. For such documents, the “seal” or any other notary stamp or execution formula that is signed and delivered is deemed to be adequate consideration for a deed.

Thus, deed poll derives its name from these two terms combined. A written agreement binding upon the signing party without any consideration or the existence of a two-party relationship, deed poll is enforceable by U.K. laws. The instrument is torn along the edges to remove the possibility of any forgery.


The first ever deed poll to change a name was used in 1851. Preserved in its intact form, the deed poll can still be seen at The National Archives, located at the Kew a Richmond, Surrey. The agreement binds the signee to all the stipulations stated in the deed poll document, pertaining to the change of name and the date of application.


As with any other deed, a deed poll is recognised by the government and all courts of law. In the United Kingdom, a deed poll is evidence that a person (being an individual or a company) has successfully changed their name. For all practical purposes, the said person shall be referred to the new name. All existing records and documents are also to be updated with respect to the new name.

Another important aspect is the limitation. Most of the deeds are short-termed and are enforceable on a particular geographical area. Deed polls, however, are applicable throughout the United Kingdom and across all British High Commissions, Embassies, governmental departments and companies alike.


To learn more about deed polls and how to apply for them, please feel free to contact us!


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