Does changing your name affect your business?
Thread poster: Wendy Cummings

Wendy Cummings  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:11
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Mar 28, 2016

I recently married and will be taking my husband's name for all personal purposes. However I am undecided whether to change it for work. I am in the UK and most of my clients (agencies) are in Western Europe. I am well established with them, and have worked with many for nearly a decade. My sole professional activity is freelance translation, and I do not envisage this changing.

Does anyone in a similar situation have advice on the pros and cons of changing my name for work?

Wendy Cummings née Leech


Note: I know someone asked this same question previously, but that was 12 years ago and many answers strayed off topic, so I want to revisit it.

Polite request: please do not comment on the motivation to change a name on marriage, or feminist considerations, or specific problems that may have occurred outside the translation sector.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:11
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Two questions spring to mind immediately Mar 28, 2016

What do HMRC have to say on the subject?

What do you intend doing about your passport? Also, social security?

As a freelancer you're trading under your own name. You may add a "trading as" name, but it isn't actually official AFAIK for freelancers to do that - it's just a marketing name. So I think the name you use for HMRC, social security and passport must all match, mustn't they?

When I once asked about changing my first name on my passport (I'm lumbered with Shelagh, which foreigners can't pronounce or spellicon_frown.gif), they said as long as I could justify using the alternative name (bank account, social security or other) then that would be fine. But in France and Spain you're stuck, so I'm stuck.


 

Wendy Cummings  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:11
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Is that relevant? Mar 28, 2016

Whilst generally important considerations about the "how" to change my name, I am not sure whether those questions are relevant to my query.

All other things being equal, I simply want to know the experience of others who may have changed their name and whether this affected their business. If there were problems arising from payments or other factors to do with the conduct of their business, then that would be relevant.


 

Ricki Farn
Germany
Local time: 20:11
Member (2005)
English to German
One day of hard work Mar 28, 2016

When I changed my surname (I didn't get married, I just changed it because porque sí), I spent a whole day informing everyone - banks, insurers, job related, memberships, anyone and everyone. I went through years' worth of bank statements and correspondence to make sure I really covered everyone who might want to contact me. After that one day, never an issue.

I did receive a few private letters in my old name, from confused old aunts or so, but I've had the same postman for decades, and he always delivered them anyway.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:11
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
On the contrary Mar 28, 2016

Wendy Leech wrote:

Whilst generally important considerations about the "how" to change my name, I am not sure whether those questions are relevant to my query.

What I'm saying is that you may not have any choice. You can use whatever name you like for marketing purposes and general correspondence, but when it comes to invoices and agreements you may have to use your "official" name.


 

TechStyle  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:11
What's in a name Mar 28, 2016

Sheila Wilson wrote:

What I'm saying is that you may not have any choice. You can use whatever name you like for marketing purposes and general correspondence, but when it comes to invoices and agreements you may have to use your "official" name.


It's fine (in Scotland at least) to use whatever name you like provided it isn't for fraudulent purposes, the contracts etc will still be perfectly valid. Problems may occur with cheques and similar payments: I could draw up a contract with you under my old family name of Morgan (or even Spiegelhalter, channelling my inner German) - but if you send me a cheque payable to "James Morgan", my bank won't let me deposit it easily.

Having built up a reputation, bank accounts etc in the old name, I'd be inclined to keep it that way and make sure you keep a bank account in that name for receiving payments to. Pro? Practical, easiest for your clients; con: a little bit more effort keeping the old name "live" and perhaps occasionally having to explain it to people. (You may also find it useful to keep a utility or two in the old name if you can: having a recent invoice with that name on can be useful.)

I've had female colleagues take exactly this route in the past, and it seemed to work fine for them - right now, two of my colleagues are married to each other but still have different surnames.


 
Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member for the following reason: Requested by user.

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 20:11
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Congratulations! Mar 29, 2016

Admittedly, it was many years ago and I was not freelancing at the time, but I firmly changed my name - it would have been odd not to back in those days. One or two people noticed that contributions to the abstracting journal were initialled CRA instead of CRS, but I think they knew it was me if it mattered.

My sister kept her maiden name - in the UK - for business purposes, until she moved on to a new job. She was much more a consultant working with clients, who knew her as Miss S. or just used her first name, but needed to know she was the same person.

Now, I would inform everyone, just as I tell them I am back from holidays or wish them a Happy New Year - it is good, painless marketing!


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:11
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Congratulations!! Mar 29, 2016

Maybe I am seeing this from the perspective of a country where spouses keep their name in 99.9% of cases, but personally I would keep the name customers are used to (apart from the obvious change of name in invoices and administrative documents as required by applicable law).

Also, God forbid, you cannot be 100% sure that you will not have to go back to your name again at some stage. I think it would be quite a waste of mental energy to force everyone to record and remember your change of marital status. This is an effort not all cultures are used to: every time a customer or contact of mine changes her name for marital reasons (either marriage or divorce), I experience a kind of irrational sense of loss until I come to senses some weeks later.

If anything, I would change my business cards to "Wendy Leech-Cummings."


 

Elif Baykara Narbay  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 22:11
German to Turkish
+ ...
I kept mine for business purposes (unofficially) Mar 29, 2016

I got recently married and found myself in a similar situation. I am registered as a "freelancer / self-employed" translator under my name (without the additional one from my husband). When I asked to my accountant about the subject, he told me that because I am registered under a person's name (here, mine), I don't need to make any changes. Changes regarding other areas (bank accounts, social security etc.) are done automatically (via the centralized system).

I use my husband's name (Elif Baykara Narbay) but preferred to keep my (business) name as before. When I need to sign documents, invoices etc. I have to use my full name of course.

[Edited at 2016-03-29 11:52 GMT]

Note added: This new name is so unnatural for me that I keep forgetting to use it anywayicon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2016-03-29 11:53 GMT]


 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:11
Member (2008)
French to English
One case I know of Mar 29, 2016

A colleague in the US changed to her husband's name after marrying and as far as I could tell there were no major ramifications. She has kept her old email addresses going with her former name, but they redirect to her new email addresses as well as sending a note back to the sender about her new name. The main thing was to let people know, so they didn't lose track of her.

 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Definitely keep your name! Mar 29, 2016

If you're a successful translator, it's a valuable brand and you'd be throwing it away.

 

Vanda Nissen  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 05:11
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
Do what you are comfortable with Mar 29, 2016

Hi Wendy,

Congratulations!

From my experience, people will get used to your new surname very quickly. I actually think keeping the same email address is more important.

When I got married, in the beginning I kept my maiden name as my middle name for practical reasons. I am Russian but my first name is not Russian and along with a Danish surname does not indicate that I am a Russian translator. I used Vanda Kotikova Nissen for a while and a couple of clients insisted on using Vanda Kotikova for published translations (exactly for the reasons above) but with the time I dropped Kotikova and I only use Vanda Nissen nowadays.


 

Wendy Cummings  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:11
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Decision Apr 4, 2016

Thank you to everyone for your input.

After careful consideration, I have decided to change my name across the board, including for professional purposes. I accept there is a small risk to my business, but I daresay I am not the first person to have been in this situation and in Western Europe it is a common enough situation for no-one to be overly confused.

Kind regards to you all

Wendy Cummings


 


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