“No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham…” (NKJV Bible Genesis 17:5)

Unlike the biblical change of name from Abram to Abraham that was ordained by God, the process of changing one’s name in Kenya is governed by The Registration of Persons Act, The Births and Deaths Registration Act, and the Registration of Documents (Change of Name) Regulations.

To legally change one’s name, a deed poll needs to be registered. Upon registration, the Registrar will cause the Deed Poll to be advertised in the Kenya Gazette. The consequence of the change of name is that the applicant will need to apply for a fresh national ID Card to reflect the new name.

The Requirements for change of name

The requirements for change of name slightly differ from one set of persons to the other. For instance, for a married woman, she must provide her certificate of marriage or other evidence if the said marriage was not registered. This is to be accompanied with the written consent of her husband.

For a widow, she is required to furnish her certificate of marriage or other evidence of her marriage if it was not registered and a death certificate.

If a divorcee, she must provide her certificate of marriage, or other evidence of her marriage if it was not registered, together with the decree absolute proving the divorce.

Also, the requirements of change of name for a minor of less than 16 years will be different from that of a minor of more than 16 years of age. For a minor below 16 years, his/her parent or legal guardian shall sign the deed poll. If the minor is above 16 years old, the minor shall consent to the change of name.

Alternative Procedure for Married or Divorced Persons

There are some instances where change of name may be effected through an application to the Registrar of Persons. Rule 9 of the Registration of Persons Rules, 1998 provides that where a married woman wishes to acquire her husband’s name she shall make an application to the Registrar of Persons attaching the marriage certificate, an affidavit stating her wish to adopt her husband’s name and copies of her ID and his ID. Where a divorcee wishes to drop and/or add a name, she shall lodge an application to the Registrar of Persons attaching the decree absolute of the divorce. The person shall at the same time surrender her identity card, pay a fee of one thousand shillings, and permit her photograph to be taken for the purpose of enabling a new identity card to be issued to her.

Change of Name for a Minor below 2 Years

Article 53 (1) (a) of the Constitution of Kenya, provides that “every child has a right to a name…” However, that name can be changed. Where a child is less than two years old, Section 14 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act provides that its parents may make an application to the registrar of births and deaths to alter the name upon payment of the prescribed fees. The application is made through filling out a form at the Registrar of Births and Deaths. This change of name does not require a deed poll and it is not technical. However, every change of name application for persons above 2 years requires a deed poll.

The Procedure

As a matter of practice, you will be required to furnish the following:

  1. A letter from the local area chief.
  2. An identity report of the person (Finger Print Printout).
  3. A deed poll prescribed as form 1 of the Regulations to the Registration of Documents Act. (It must be commissioned by a commissioner of oaths).
  4. The birth certificate of the applicant to the deed poll.
  5. A statutory declaration as prescribed under the Act (Form 6). It is sworn by a person resident in Kenya and who personally knows the applicant by the name they want to change.

The Deed Poll is then registered with the Registrar of Documents.

Upon registration, the endorsed documents are to be lodged at the Government Printers’ offices for publishing in the Kenya Gazette. The name change is effected at this point. The Applicant is then advised to apply for a new ID

Instances Where a Change of Name may be rejected

The Registrar may decline to effect the change of name for the following reasons:

  1. If the chosen name(s) is vulgar, offensive;
  2. The name includes numbers, symbols or punctuation marks;
  3. The proposed name is difficult to pronounce;
  4. The name incites or promotes criminal activities, racial, religious hatred or use of controlled drugs;
  5. If the name ridicules people, groups, government departments, companies or organizations; and
  6. If the name creates an impression/belief that one has an inherited/conferred title, honour, rank or academic award, for example, a change of first name to Sir, Lord, Lady, Prince, Princess is not acceptable.

Further, where it is established by the Registrar that the objective of change of name is to perpetuate a fraud, the registrar may reject that application for change of name.

Consequences of Changing your Name

Upon the change of name, there will be discrepancies in your educational and professional certificates and your Title Deeds. In the case of professional and educational certificates, an Affidavit confirming the said change of name will suffice. As for Land instruments such as Title Deeds, one needs to lodge an Application for Rectification of the Register with the respective Land Registrar for purposes of correcting the name.

At Munyao-Kayugira & Company Advocates, we have the expertise to undertake this process on your behalf. For any inquiries or support you may need, you can reach us through our email .