Brit refused passport over name


Refused a passport

A man born Mathew Whelan has been told he cannot get a passport, because of his unusual name. Whelan is the most tattooed man in Britain, and to celebrate this unusual position he changed his name to King of Ink Land King Body Art The Extreme Ink-Ite.

But the Passport Office is unimpressed with the change - and has refused to put his name on a passport.


The Birmingham Mail reported that the 34-year-old from Birmingham, who goes by the name Body Art, changed his name twice - in 2007 and 2009. He already has his new name on his driving licence.

He is committed to his body art - and has 90% of his body covered - including his face and the whites of one eyeball. He has been offered a job doing 'body modification' overseas, but cannot travel because he can't get a passport.

He told the Daily Mirror that when he applied for his new passport - and sent the fee - they refused.
Body Art has sent a complaint to the Passport Office, and is being backed by his local MP, who has written to ask why they have a different policy to DVLA.

The rules

The Passport Office says in its terms and conditions: "Where an applicant changes his or her name to a string of words or phrases that would not normally be recognised as a name, this should not be entered on to the personal details page of the passport."

Deed Poll specialists are clear that it's essential to choose a name that is accepted by the Passport Office, and abide by their rules, because if you fall foul you will be refused a passport. They emphasise that your change of name is established by usage, so if the Passport Office says that you cannot use your name, then you haven't officially managed to change it.

The strings-of-words rule is one to be careful of. However, there's another which denies you the right to a passport if it believes your new name is frivolous, changed for a bet, changed on a whim, or for commercial gain. It won't accept a name if it believes the change is temporary, and you cannot include numbers either.

Not the first

There are people tho have fallen foul of these rules before. In 2009 a woman who raised £4,000 for Children in Need by changing her name to Mrs Pudsey Bear, was refused a new passport because the name change was considered 'frivolous'.

In 2007 Samantha Holloway, a 20-year-old Londoner changed her name to HMP Holloway - after the women's prison, but was refused a passport in her new name. She also had trouble finding a job and getting the JobCentre staff to believe her.

And elsewhere around the world, the rules are far more strict. In a number of countries names have to be approved by the government - including Iceland, New Zealand, Germany and Sweden.

In New Zealand, the names that have been banned include 4Real, Cinderella Beauty Blossom and Twisty Poi. A couple of years ago 9-year-old Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii was made a ward of the court so her name could be changed to something less embarrassing.

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