The surname of a German national must conform to German law, irrespective of the name appearing on a foreign birth certificate.
1. If the parents were married when the child was born
A child whose parents were married at the time of the child’s birth and have a joint married name will receive the parents’ married name as his/her surname. No name declaration is needed. If you married outside Germany and declared a married name in this connection, please email us in advance to check if this married name will be recognised under German law.
If the parents were married when the child is born and do not have a joint married name, they will need to make a name declaration to confirm the child’s surname under German law. However, if you have already made a name declaration for another child and chose German law and the father’s or mother’s name for that child, any other children you have will automatically receive this name, and there is no need for another name declaration. In this case, when applying for a passport for your child, please submit the name certificate of the child for whom you have already made a name declaration. If you are unsure, please contact us beforehand.
2. If the parents were not married when the child was born
A child whose parents are not married at the time of birth will usually bear the mother’s surname. Therefore if you are happy for the child to have the mother’s surname, a name declaration is not necessary. If the parents would like the child to have a different surname, the surname can be changed by making a name declaration.
If you already have one or more children and have already made name declarations for them, please contact the Embassy or Consulate General to inquire whether name declarations are necessary for your other children born subsequently.
3. Name declaration for a name entered on a British (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 certainly not be automatically accepted for the purposes of German law. Usually a child’s surname (including a double surname) entered on a British 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 made for each child.
4. Name declarations opting for the law of another country
If one parent is not German (or has another nationality as well as German), parents can usually opt for their child’s name to be subject to the law of the other country. In this way a German child can bear a surname which may not conform to German law, e.g. a double surname. To make a name declaration for this purpose, please submit documents showing that the surname you would like your child to have is allowed under the law of the other country (e.g. if available, your child’s passport issued by the relevant country). Please note that in these cases a name declaration only applies to the child for whom it is made, so a separate name declaration must be made for each child.
If you would like to make a name declaration for your child, the necessary documents must be sent to the Embassy or Consulate General before booking an appointment.
Once we’ve done a first check of the documents, we’ll contact you and you can book an appointment.
Both custodial parents must attend the appointment, as both their signatures have to be certified on the name declaration form. If your child is aged 14 or over, the child must also attend. Children aged 18 or over can make the name declaration by themselves, but must submit the parents’ documents specified below. Children aged 18 or over should use the Form for children aged 18 or over below.
The following documents are required for the name declaration:
- Completed form (please complete legibly in capital letters, but don’t sign yet!)
- Valid passports (or German identity cards) of both parents
- Child’s German or other passport, if already issued
- Birth certificates of both parents
- Child’s birth certificate (“full” version stating parents)
- If you would like to declare a choice of law (see 4 above), a document, e.g. birth certificate or passport issued by the relevant country showing that the child bears the desired surname in that country
- Marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate if parents are married (NB children aged 18 or over making a name declaration must bring their parents’ marriage certificate (not their own!)
- Divorce decree absolute, if a parent is 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
- Naturalisation certificate if a parent is a naturalised German, or nationality certificate (Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis) if applicable
- 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
- 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)
- If you and your spouse/civil partner have other children from your relationship, your other children’s birth certificates (“full” version stating the parents)
- Name certificates of any brothers and sisters of the child for whom the name declaration is being made
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.