The Married Name
If you got married and did not file a name declaration according to german law and regulations, your surname has not changed. For example, if you got married in Ireland you continue to carry your previous name even after marriage.
If you wish to have a joint married name or a hyphenated surname, a name declaration is necessary.
This also applies if you are a dual citizen and already carry your spouse's name in Ireland. Please note that you might have to file a name declaration, even though your German passport was already issued to you in your preferred name. This is the case when the necessity of a name declaration was overlooked in the past.
A name declaration can be filed at any time during a marriage. The declaration is irrevocable.
According to German law, you may either choose the birth or current name of either spouse. The German spouse may choose a double-barrelled surname for themselves, if their name does not become the joint family name. The surnames are joined by a hyphen.
You can also choose not to apply German law, but the law of one of the spouse's home country for your married name. This option maybe useful if the preferred married name is not permissible according to German law.
The Name of a Child
A child born to German parents abroad does not always have a surname according to German law and regulations, even if a name has already been entered into a foreign birth certificate e.g. Irish birth certificate.
The surname of your child is only determined if you as parents have a common married name at the time of birth (e.g. your marriage took place in Germany before birth). In most other cases a name declaration is necessary to choose a surname for your child.
Please note that a name declaration may also be necessary if your child had a previous German passport issued to them but where the necessity of a name declaration had been overlooked.
A child whose parents are unmarried at the time of the child’s birth will usually have the mother’s surname as birth name. Therefore, if you want the child to have the mother’s name, a name declaration is not necessary. However, if you wish to have the other parent’s name, you will have to file a name declaration. Both parents will have to be present during the appointment as the signature of BOTH parents will have to be certified for the name declaration. If your child is over the age of 14, then they will also need to be present.
What is the relevant law? What choices do we have?
1.German law: both parents are German citizens, German law is applicable for the name of your child. You may either choose the father’s or the mother’s name. In the case of children born to a married couple, the choice will automatically apply to any other younger siblings.
2.Foreign law: If one parent has a foreign citizenship, for example if they are Irish, you may choose to apply foreign law to the name of your child. Choosing for example Irish law is advisable if your child shall have a name not permissible according to German law. The choice of name does not automatically extend to other children. A separate name declaration must be filed for each child.
3. Name declaration for a name entered on an Irish (or other European) birth certificate:
Since 29 January 2013, under Article 48 of the Introductory Act to the Civil Code (EGBGB), a surname acquired during a habitual residence in an EU country and entered in a register of births in that country can be recognised under German law as long as it conforms to the fundamental principles of German naming law. If parents would like their child to have such a surname, they will need to make a name declaration accordingly, as the surname will likely not be automatically accepted under German law. Usually a child’s surname (including a double surname) entered on an Irish birth certificate can in this way be confirmed under German law. Please note, however, that a name declaration under Article 48 EGBGB only applies to the child for whom it is made, so a separate name declaration must be filed for each child.
How to go about it?
If you are planning to apply for registration of a birth, a necessary name declaration can be given with the birth registration “Geburtsanzeige” (see third page of application form for birth registration). If you do not apply for birth registration, a name declaration can be given separately.
The Name of a Child over 18
If you are over 18 years old and applying for a German passport for the first time, you may need to declare your name first. If at the time of your birth your parents did not carry a joint married name according to German law, you must file a name declaration. Please note that you might have to file a name declaration even though your German passport was already issued to you in your preferred name. This is the case when the necessity of a name declaration was overlooked in the past.
Please in advance and they can advise whether a name declaration is necessary or not.
Changing your name after divorce or death of a spouse
The ending of a marriage by divorce or death of a spouse does not have any effect on your name. If you wish to return to your previous name a name declaration is necessary.
The registrar's office processing your name declaration will ask you to first apply for the recognition of divorce. You can find more information regarding the recognition of divorce on our website.
Read here for information on how to change your name.
Changing the order of your forename
As of 1 November 2018, German nationals can change the order of their forenames by making an officially certified declaration.
Please note that it is not possible to change the spelling of your forenames, add new forenames or drop forenames as part of this declaration.
It is your personal decision whether you would like to change the order of your forenames.
Once the procedure has been completed, you can apply to have your forenames altered in official documents (passport, certificates etc.) and you can of course be called whatever you like, regardless of the declaration.
Changing the order of your forenames can only be done once and is irrevocable.
Read here for information on how to declare your name.