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How to Have a Single Name
Rather than having a first-name last-name format name as per normality

Just because society has certain norms doesn't mean you have to conform to them. One of the arbitrary conventions of normal western society is that a person shall have a first-name last-name, ie that you should have a christian name or first name (regardless of whether you believe in that religion or not), and a surname or family name. Well, you don't have to go with the flow, you can be different. You can have a SINGLE NAME, like those heroic characters in adventure stories, sci-fi fantasy and virtual worlds!

It is legal, even in countries such as the UK which are a bit behindhand on a few other things, for a person to have a single-name, if they want to. It may even be legal in the USA, I am not sure. However, being able to call yourself what you want is a human right, so it's about time governments started accepting that. Whatever you call yourself, that is your Real Name. That's the fact.

Now for practical purposes, in countries which have documents and laws and paperwork, there are procedures for these things, so, how do you go about officially naming yourself and having a single name? Here's how it's done:


In the UK, this is what you do: You find a Commissioner for Oaths. In practice, all registered solicitors are commissioners for oaths and some of them have brass plaques outside which state the fact. So you find one, and you book an appointment, and you go along and ask the solicitor to create for you a Statutory Declaration. You say what you want to call yourself, and what your previous name was, and the solicitor draws up a special legal document known as a Statutory Declaration which is like a solemn oath. It's usually made on parchment paper with good quality ink and has all the right legal wording. This is the proper thing and is legally binding, so you might think it's going to be very expensive, but actually it's been found to be less than £100.

As is the tradition in the UK, and because of the importance of making sure of fair play, a second solicitor or Commissioner for Oaths is required. Don't worry, because the first solicitor will know of another solicitor nearby to complete the procedure. Then you walk a short distance to the second solicitor's office, and to make the document legal, you have to make a solemn declaration. This is witnessed by those people present, and everyone signs the paper, and then it is done! You have legally changed your name!

In terms of solemnity, it's got to be your true and honest vow. However, it is not written in blood, sworn on an old bible, or involving other ceremonials unless you so wish it. It's more like a registry office wedding where the people make their vows to each other witnessed by the registrar, except that with a Statutory Declaration it's just one person making a vow.

Now, what happens is that you inform various companies, establishments, and anyone who you think ought to know. For example, your bank, the Passport Office, the DVLA for your driving licence, etc. If in doubt, you show them an official Certified Copy of your Statutory Declaration. You show this to various companies and official organisations so they can get your name right in future. Interestingly, I have heard that if they refuse to accept it, then they are in breach of the Statutory Declarations Act 1835, which could mean they are in trouble for having broken the law. This is worth bearing in mind if you encounter any officious jobsworths who won't accept your new name.

In practice, the people at most official government bodies, corporations, and legal entities, are quite happy to accept a Statutory Declaration, and they'll try their best to get their computers to accept the fact. It's usually the slightly narrow-minded software that's inflexible, rather than the people, or the official policies. Here are a few helpful tips about filling forms and getting software to accept your single name:

* Tell the people, in as polite a way as possible, that they should accept modern diversity-friendly philosophies and accept people of different races and cultures, so they must accept that some people have a name that's a single word.

* Say the magic word "Linux" when talking about software systems on computers, as in Linux the software is there to serve the purposes for which it's written, not sold to keep some old company's share price from falling through the floor.

* When filling a form on a computer, if it's got old style oldfashioned first-name last-name compulsory fields, put your name (the single name word) in the "first name" box. Then in the second mandatory field, put the star or asterisk character, "*". If that isn't accepted, put in the dash, hyphen, or "-" character. This is almost always accepted because some people have double-barrelled names, which have a "-" in them.

* The UK Passport Authority have already had to accept the fact that many people in the UK have single names, as the UK is a cosmopolitan country and accepts migrants from around the world. If you have a single name, however, as they hadn't got their computer system updated to allow this properly (2009), they put your single word name in as if it's your "last-name", and they try to blank out the "first name" field by using "XXX".

* When talking to any actual humans about getting the company/officialdom to accept your new real name, try to be as nice to them as possible. Remember: It's not their fault, and they aren't to blame if their employer's system is inflexible. You then have to put in a complaint, which again should be done calmly and politely.


You don't have to have a "title". A while back, it was assumed to be compulsory for all women to be either "Mrs" or "Miss" and thereby to divulge their marital status. This was of course wrong, and after a considerable fight, women won the right to be "Ms", which is a title that does not divulge marital status. However, old-style titles still divulge gender, and you might wish to avoid having a gender-specific that as part of your name. The easy and obvious answer is for form-fillings to allow "no title" as an option. However, some still don't have that, and in a way it is a downright personal question to ask what sex you are, and really it's none of their business! To set a good example in business, when you're filling in an online form to receive Zyra's newsletters, you don't have to state what gender you are, and you can if you wish make an affirmative statement to be of unspecified gender. See Zyra's Circular. It's up to you if you want a newsletter. All fields are optional.

If you're a transsexual, there's good news that most countries that accept human rights will actually change their forms to accept your new gender. The certificate of gender change provided your surgeon is proof enough. Plus, in countries where places aren't allowed to be prejudiced against the transgendered, they have to accept your new gender identity even pre-op.


Unique identifier format is popular in adventure contexts and stage-names and has historical precedents. For example: Voltaire, Plato, Cher, Geronimo, Elvira, Hercules, Shiva, Pocahontas, Tutankhamen, Shrek, Cochise, Arvind, Suharto.

This is the reality; some people have single names. It is only a cultural convention that expects people to have a first-name last-name, and that convention doesn't hold good in history, or across different cultures around the world, or in the reality felt in imagination.


You can change your name by Deed Poll or by Statutory Declaration. Deed Poll is better known, but Statutory Declaration has more weight legally. However, for changing to a single name, Statutory Declaration is more recommended because some websites that perform a shortcut deed poll online are rather conventional and oldfashioned when it comes to name format, and some will only accept first-name last-name format names!

There's also a cheaper alternative, which is to change your name "BY USAGE". That is, you just start using your new name and expect everyone to accept it. Although this is initially cheaper, and it's legal, it is in practice quite difficult to force some government agencies to accept your new name.

In contrast, with a Statutory Declaration, they legally have to accept it!


Anyone can change their own name if they so choose. It's freedom of choice. Choose wisely!