What Is A Double Barrel Surname (DBS)

A double barrel surname is created when two spouses combine their surnames by either using a hyphen between their names or by adding their second surname onto either spouse’s existing surnames.

Over the past 20 years, surnames with two barrels have seen exponential growth across Britain. However, they can present practical difficulties regarding how names are handed down through families.

Multiple surnames stacked closely can create legal gray areas when applied for, such as passports and IDs. But for couples that both intend to give their surnames to their offspring, double barreled surnames could provide the ideal balance.

Although women changing their names upon marriage has long been considered an age-old custom, in actuality this practice only began becoming widespread during the 15th and 17th centuries. Prior to these dates, married women lost their surname upon marriage and simply had one last name!

Today’s women use their surname in various ways to express both individual identity and familial lineage as well as to emphasize membership within a couple.

Who can use a Double Barrel Surname After Marriage?

After marriage, women have various choices available to them regarding how they handle their surnames after becoming single again. Their marriage certificate doesn’t indicate which option best applies – here in the UK women can use any one or more of the following:

  • If married, change to your husband’s surname.
  • Keep using your maiden name.
  • Change Your Surname To A Double Barreled Surname.
  • Change your maiden name into a middle name and add on your husband’s surname as surname.
  • Combine both names into one surname to create your new surname.

Over the past 20 years, double barrel surnames have seen increasing prevalence in Britain.

Recent data released by Opinium and published by London Mint Office revealed that 11% of UK citizens aged 18-34 years who married combined their surnames upon marriage into double barreled surnames, commonly referred to as double barrel surnames or compound surnames.

Making the choice to adopt either a double barrel surname, without or with an hyphenated suffix, or opting for just a single surname can be extremely personal for couples and must be made independently by each. Nowadays, double barrel  names may be selected due to a range of reasons that differ significantly from those which once motivated this form of name configuration.

Double barrelled last names once signalled land ownership and social status; today they no longer indicate belonging to an elite society.

Middle-class individuals now frequently adopt two hyphenated last names; unfortunately, this practice no longer provides social advantages it once did.

Double barrel surnames present unique challenges when it comes to naming children, taking longer for documents like signing lists to write out by hand than expected, not forgetting and being confusing in some settings.

Yet in some instances women wish to keep their surname to maintain the link to their family of origin and pass it down through generations, while some couples opt for double barrel names to showcase their collective identity.

An alternative approach would be blending surnames; one way would be for women to pass her last name onto her husband by giving him her own last name (with or without the use of a hyphen), as this allows both parties involved in passing it down ethnicities, heritages and familial lines in some instances.

How Does Double Barrel Surname Work?

Many women today opt to keep their surname after marriage rather than give it up, yet more than 59% of UK women (59%) still wish for their spouse to take on their surname after marriage, with 61% wanting this outcome as well; so double barrelling allows the couple to retain both surnames simultaneously.

Double barreling typically entails merging both surnames into one name; however, its outcome could take various forms.

At times, women may choose to add two surnames together while their partner keeps his original surname unchanged; alternatively, both parties may opt to change. Hyphenation or no hyphenation of last names should always be carefully considered when making decisions; in practice however it shouldn’t really matter much either way.

If the couple wishes to double-barrel the surnames, they must first decide which surname should come first. Traditionally in Britain, men typically take precedence but these days couples usually choose which order works better to their ears.

Women wishing to adopt two surnames usually require a Deed Poll for this to happen.

Deed poll is a legal document through which you commit to changing all areas of your life to use a different name, giving up any old names you no longer wish to use and taking on one new identity altogether.

Deed polls are recognized by government offices, banks and other major institutions throughout the UK. Most government departments will alter their records when presented with marriage certificates stating a double-barrel surname; however some banks and financial institutions (in particular) might choose not to.

Deed poll is the only sure way to ensure that a double barrel surname will be legally acceptable across all contexts, while non-governmental documents or records require direct contact with each institution regarding policies for altering surnames.

Once couples decide they wish to change both of their surnames by Deed Poll (and we suggest the UK Deed Poll Office as an efficient method), it would be advantageous for the husband-to-be to initiate this change prior to their wedding so as to save costs associated with multiple Deed Poll filings.

After her marriage, the woman can then adopt her husband’s double-barrel surname in accordance with tradition – using their marriage certificate as proof. His double barrel surname will then appear there too!

But before embarking on this path, be certain that the man of your dreams (passport/travel documents/ID card/etc.) has them back before planning any overseas travel. Otherwise it would be prudent to postpone overseas travel until these items have returned into his possession.

Which name comes first when selecting a hyphenated last name?

Although ultimately making this decision is up to each couple individually, traditions and customs dictate some guidelines when making such choices.

Wherever double barrel names are more frequent, typically, it is the husband who comes first while their wife comes last. For instance, this holds true in Germanic cultures like Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands where double barrel names are the norm.

Hispanic cultures tend to follow more intricate naming traditions; nevertheless, traditionally speaking, husband’s name goes first while wife’s comes next in alphabetical order.

Hispanic cultures’ name customs (including some Filipino traditions) differ significantly from western ones in that surnames don’t pass down directly through generations of children.

Children inherit one name from each parent to indicate descent. For instance, if one’s father’s name was Juan Lopez Gonzalez and one’s mother Maria Zaragoza Jiminez then their last name would likely be Lopez Zaragoza (both grandfather’s last names are included as part of that last name).

Turkish and Indian cultures typically follow different customs when it comes to hyphenated names: traditionally speaking, Turkish names usually place the wife’s surname before that of the husband’s last name and vice versa; this also holds true when considering class diversity – husband’s last names being more often dropped after other hyphenated ones are introduced as examples of social inequality and patriarchy than ever.

What will Happen If Two Double-Barrelled Surnames Marry? When two people with double barrelled surnames marry, many different things could potentially unfold with regard to naming customs; but remember: in the UK the final decision lies solely with them!

There are no hard and fast rules or regulations when it comes to changing last names for marriage. While one spouse might opt to change his/her last name exactly to match that of his or her partner’s, both can maintain their existing last names without making any alterations at all.

However, when couples decide to have children together there may be important decisions they need to make before proceeding with pregnancy and giving birth if no name changes were implemented at their wedding ceremony.

If the couple wishes to maintain both surnames, there is the possibility of merging two double barrelled surnames into one quadruple-barrelled surname.

Though uncommon, individuals do occasionally opt to combine their children’s names. The UK boasts the greatest prevalence for such practices worldwide but other nations and regions worldwide also adopt them, specifically Iberian and Latin American traditions.

Traditionally in the UK, quadruple barreled surnames were seen as signs of wealth or status; parents wanted their children to retain legal access to multigenerational family wealth or property by passing down family names to future generations.

Over most of English history, having a double barrelled surnames typically had to do with either money or status issues.

As such, families of nobility or other higher status often passed on multiple names to subsequent generations.

Multiple surnames were once vital in protecting family lines; today however, with reduced need to use surnames to demonstrate lineage or right of ownership a couple’s reasons for passing down both double-barrelled surnames (or only one or the other) have changed dramatically.

Can I Double Barrel My Child’s Name?

Absolutely. If neither you nor your partner share the same last name and wish for both names to pass down as last names for your children’s use, passing down both surnames through double barrelling can help ensure continuity for generations of family ancestry.

Even after your child has been born or you decide later that renaming him/her should occur later on, submitting all required documentation and following proper procedures can still change their name if that becomes necessary. It doesn’t even need to happen immediately following wedding ceremonies! In the UK parents can change the child’s name with Deed Poll whereas both parties would need their consent in case this change takes place post birth.

At birth, your child can take any surname you select (just as any given name may). To double-barrel their names if possible, it would be easiest for this process to occur on their birth certificate at that moment in time.

There is no law mandating that children inherit either parent’s last names and, thus, it’s permissible for parents to enter in either double barreled or hyphenated surnames on birth certificates as long as both agree upon which last name will be best.

What is a double barrel surname
What is a double barrel surname

As long as both parents are married, only one may need to be present when filling out the birth certificate.

Initial double-barrelled surnames may seem the obvious solution when passing down family names between generations; however, things become complicated for children with two barreled surnames when they reach adulthood and wish to marry and adopt both surnames as double barreled ones themselves.

According to reports, adult women wishing to marry should drop both surnames for marriage to resolve potential conflicts among future familial ties as their children become adults and get married or start families themselves. It has been recommended that such decisions should take future familial relations into consideration to avoid conflict amongst future children of adults with double barreled surnames who marry and then give rise to children of their own with differing surnames as adults and then raise them themselves in future marriages and parenthood arrangements.

Contact us for your name change queries.


Famous People with Double-Barrelled Surnames

Double Barrel surnames are increasingly becoming the choice of wealthy and famous individuals due to the same reasons middle-class couples combine their names. Below is a list of famous individuals with dual barrelled surnames:

  • Helena Bonham Carter has indicated that any optional use of the hyphen may be dropped when writing her name as Helena Bonham Carter, with emphasis being given to it being optional for inclusion on an auditionee list.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt (also known as Joe) is an American actor, singer and film producer.
  • Julia Louis Dreyfus: Sometimes her name is hyphenated; other times it isn’t.
  • Beyonce Knowles-Carter, musician/singer
  • Daniel Day-Lewis (pronounced Day Lewis), English screen actor
  • Sacha Baron Cohen – Simon Cohen has adopted the hyphenated form of Sacha’s name.
  • Hilary Rodham Clinton – Former First Lady of the United States
  • Jada Pinkett Smith – American Actress
  • Olivia Newton-John is an internationally acclaimed singer-actress-entrepreneur-activist.
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones – actress

Although double-barrel surnames are the most frequently blended surnames in the UK today, some individuals combine last names into entirely new configurations – instead of creating double-barreled last names; rather they created blended or meshed last names .

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