Since 24 May 2007, naturalised Germans who acquired their name under foreign law and whose name is now subject to German law have been able to adapt their name to German law by making a “Declaration of Adaptation of Name” under Article 47 of the Introductory Act to the German Civil Code (EGBGB).
Under German law, a person has at least one forename and one surname. The surname should normally consist of just one name. Other countries’ legal systems do not always make this distinction between forename and surname.
If you have a single name of several parts which does not function as forename and surname, you can choose your forename(s) and surname from the parts of your present name (e.g. Sri Lankan proper names or Arabic names having several parts). If your name has just one part, you can designate this as your forename or surname and then choose the missing name yourself. Parts of a name which are not recognised under German law can be dropped, e.g. a patronymic. You can also take the original form of a name which has been altered according to gender or family relationship. You can also choose to take the German form of a forename or surname. If there is no German form of the forename, a new forename can be chosen (e.g. “Piotr Meierow” becomes “Peter Meier”).
The Declaration of Adaptation of Name is a special feature of German law. It cannot be guaranteed that the new name will be recognised outside Germany, in particular in the former home country.
A Declaration of Adaptation of Name can only be made once and is irrevocable. The declaration only becomes effective upon receipt by the registry office. Once the registrar has checked your declaration, a certificate will be issued confirming your new name.
If you would like to submit a Declaration of Adaptation of Name, the necessary documents must be sent to the Embassy or Consulate General before booking an appointment.
If you have further questions on the possibilities for choosing a name, you can also contact us in advance:
Usually the following documents are required for a Declaration of Adaptation of Name:
- Your valid passport(s) or German identity card (Personalausweis)
- Birth certificate
- Naturalisation certificate
- Proof of residence in the UK (e.g. council tax bill or utility bill)
- German deregistration certificate (Abmeldebescheinigung) or current registration certificate (Meldebescheinigung) for your (last) residence in Germany
- Marriage certificate, if you are married
- Divorce decree absolute, if you are divorced
- Please note: in the case of divorce in an EU country (except Denmark) after 1 March 2003: certificate under Art. 39 (Annex 1) of Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters, confirmed by the court which issued the divorce decree
- Please also note: in the case of divorce outside Germany and outside the European Union the registry office may require recognition of the foreign divorce by the Senate Department for Justice, Consumer Protection and Anti-discrimination in Berlin. You can find further information on this here
- Birth certificates of any children (“full” version stating the parents)
- In most cases, translations of foreign documents (usually not required for English or international documents, e.g. international birth certificates in more than one language)
Please send a single copy of each document (no originals) to the Embassy or Consulate General as described under “General information on procedure and issue of appointments”.
Depending on the case more documents may become necessary and be requested at a later stage by the registry office.
In particular, German translations of documents (including documents in English) may be required at a later stage. Occasionally apostilles are also required on foreign documents.