Both Deed Poll and Affidavit are valid ways to perform an official legally recognised change of name. Both consist of a legal document describing and relinquishing your old name and describing and adopting your chosen new name, along with several other details such your address and the date of your official name change.
The effective difference between Deed Poll and Affidavit is how the documents are authorised.
What is a Deed Poll?
A deed poll is a formal statement to prove that your name has been changed. For most people it will not be necessary to prepare a deed poll as evidence that they have changed their name. However, there may be cases when a deed poll is required. For example, some professional bodies require members to produce a deed poll as proof of any name change.
As a child or young person under 18, you can only have your change of name recorded by deed poll by a person who has parental responsibility for you. However, if you are over 16, this can only be done with your consent.
To be valid, a Deed Poll document must be signed and dated by you, and witnessed and signed by two people who should not be related to you. You must sign both your old name and your new name in the spaces provided, even if your signature has not changed. The signing of the document by yourself in the presence of your two witnesses, who also sign the document to confirm their presence, is all that is required to make the Deed Poll document and therefore your name change valid. Once this has been completed you have officially changed your name.
What is an Affidavit?
An Affidavit is simply a document, a written statement of fact that is signed under oath in the presence of any of a:
- Notary of the Public
- Justice of the Peace
- Commissioner for Oaths
An Affidavit document must therefore be taken to a solicitor’s office or a High Court in order perform the swearing under oath.
For change of name purposes, the Affidavit document will be accepted providing that the Affidavit has been signed in the new name. Generally Affidavit name change documents will be signed just with the new name. The document will be stamped by the solicitor as confirmation the document was sworn under oath. The solicitor stamp is the authorisation confirmation. In many cases there will be a charge by the solicitor to authorise your Affidavit document.
To be valid an Affidavit document must be sworn and signed by you in front of a either a Solicitor, Judge, Commissioner of Oaths, or Notary Public, who will also sign and date the document to validate it. In this case, your document is taken to, for example, a solicitor who will take your sworn oath and authorise the document with their official stamp. Once this has been completed you have officially changed your name.
In Nigeria, you are then required to make your new name declaration public knowledge through an advertisement in a national newspaper. Including your change of name on our online repository is inclusive of this intention to make your change of name public knowledge, as any relevant party can search for your change of name on the portal, which, beforehand, would have been verified by us.
Why choose Affidavit over a Deed Poll?
A Deed Poll is simply witnessed by any two adults who are not related to you. However, for many, the preferred option is to have an Affidavit, as this is sworn on oath in front of an officially recognised person and receives an official stamp. This makes the Affidavit document feel a little more 'official' but the legal effect is no different from a Deed Poll.
In either case, choosing whether to change your name by Deed Poll or by Affidavit comes down to personal choice and whether you wish to have the document witnessed or have it sworn in front of a Solicitor or Notary Public. There is no difference in the official validity of either document. However, in Nigeria, the Affidavit is generally a more acceptable document.