Of all the things we use to identify ourselves, our name is the most important. The question “What’s your name?” seems simple. But for many people, it’s not that straightforward. And when it comes to filling in the paperwork for a DBS check, it’s important to list all the names you have been known by.


Maiden Names and Married Names

The most common reason why people have more than one name is because they’ve changed their surname on marriage. Traditionally, it was more common for women to change their surname. Nowadays, there are no hard and fast rules. Some men might change their name to their wife’s name, both might adopt a double-barelled surname, or neither may change their name. Many people carry on using two surnames, one in their personal life and other in a professional context. The key is not to assume anything. Employers should always point out that people need to give all their previous surnames on a DBS form, whatever the reason for the change.


Full Name

The DBS form has separate boxes for your surnames and forenames. You must give your full name, including full spellings of any middle names. Don’t just give initials, or miss middle names out. Take care to write neatly on a handwritten form, and check the form over for typos if you’re doing the form online. One of the main reasons the DBS need a full name is to easily find you on the databases. There may be thousands of people in the UK called Karen Jones, hundreds called Karen M Jones, but only you called Karen Magnolia Jones.


Known As Names

The DBS form asks whether there are any other names you have been known by, and then to list them. Lots of people are known as names other than their official names for a whole host of other reasons. We all know someone who everyone calls James, but whose real first name is actually George. Or someone who always goes through life as Kate, never using their “proper” name of Katherine. If that applies in your case, give your alternative names on the form, not forgetting to add the surname each time. Although the DBS only wants to know about an address history going back five years, in terms of name you must let them know about all names you have been known as from birth. The only exception to this is in cases of people who have been adopted under the age of 10; they don’t need to give birth surnames.



The DBS form also asks for dates during which you used the names given. If you are known as May but are officially Maria, then put the same dates for both names as you use them interchangeably. If you change a surname on marriage, or by deed poll, give the precise date of the change on the form. If you have any doubts about what to write or what dates to give, get advice from the DBS helpline.