If the two spouses would like to have the same name, they will need to decide on a joint married name and, if the marriage takes place in Germany, they can have it registered as part of the official ceremony at the registry office.
The spouse whose surname does not become the married name can add his or her previous surname before or after the married name. If you married in Germany and the married name is stated on your marriage certificate, you do not need to make a declaration of married name at the Embassy or Consulate General. You can apply directly for a new passport in your married name. If there has been no declaration of married name, a German national will keep the name he or she had before getting married.
If you married outside Germany and declared a married name in this connection, please inquire to the Embassy or Consulate General whether this name is recognised under German law.
You can also decide to take a married name if you are already married. You can declare this either at the registry office where you live in Germany or, if you live outside Germany, at a German embassy or consulate. If you married in the UK and the German spouse would like to change his or her name, you must always make a formal “Declaration of Married Name”. This is because getting married in the UK does not include a name declaration that would be valid under German law. A change of name by Deed Poll is not recognised under German law.
Which national law should I select for my declaration of married name?
The case of Ms. Meier and Mr. Smith might help.
Example*: Ms. Meier (German citizen) and Mr. Smith (British citizen) got married in the UK. Ms. Meier would now like to change her surname under German law.
Variant A: Ms. Meier wishes to take the surname Smith. Mr. Smith will keep his surname. Children born in wedlock are to be given the surname Smith.
- German law should be selected: The husband’s surname becomes the joint married name. Children born in wedlock automatically acquire the married name as their birth name. A name declaration is not required for the children.
Variant B: Ms. Meier wishes to take the surname Meier-Smith. Mr. Smith will keep his surname. Children born in wedlock are to be given the surname Smith.
- German law should be selected: The husband’s surname becomes the joint married name and the wife’s birth name is added. Children born in wedlock automatically acquire Smith as their birth name. A name declaration is not required for the children. Only the wife/ mother takes the double-barrelled surname.
Variant C: Ms. Meier and Mr. Smith both wish to take the surname Meier-Smith or Meier Smith (not hyphenated). Children born in wedlock will also be given the double-barrelled name if possible.
- British law should be selected: The law of the husband’s country of citizenship is chosen for the married name because it allows double-barrelled surnames for both spouses. A married name declaration under foreign law does not usually automatically extend to children born in wedlock. However, children may also acquire the double-barrelled surname if a separate name declaration is made for them. This can be done at the same time as the married name declaration.
*Please note: This example is provided purely for illustration purposes. It may also apply in the case of a married couple where one spouse is German and the other has a different nationality. These principles apply to same-sex married couples as well.
The above information also applies to registered same-sex civil partnerships accordingly.
If you would like to make a declaration of married name, 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 spouses/civil partners must attend the appointment, as both their signatures have to be certified on the name declaration form. If only one of you attends, unfortunately the application can’t be accepted.
The following documents are required for a declaration of married name
- Completed name declaration form (please complete legibly not using block capital letters, but do not sign yet! Choose one naming option on page 2 only!); the form can be downloaded below
- Valid passports or national identity cards of both spouses/civil partners
- proof of German citizenship of at least one of the spouses/civil partners: valid German identity document (passport or ID), naturalisation certificate or citizenship certificate (Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis); if you do not possess either of the aforementioned proofs, please contact our citizenship department via our contact form before applying for the name declaration: German citizenship
- Birth certificates of both spouses/ civil partners
- Marriage certificate or civil partnership 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
- If you and your spouse have children from your relationship, your children’s birth certificates (“full” version stating the parents)
- Death certificate if either spouse/civil partner was previously widowed
- Divorce decree absolute if either spouse/civil partner was previously divorced
- If the German spouse has had a previous marriage which was divorced outside of Germany, please read our information on the recognition of foreign divorces: Marriage-related matters
- In case of divorce in an EU country (except Denmark) after 1 March 2001: a certificate under Art. 39 (Annex 1) of Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003, should be presented. You can apply for such certificate with the court that issued the divorce decree; in the UK it is called Form D180
- In case of divorce outside of Germany and outside of the European Union the registry office may require the formal recognition of the foreign divorce. We generally recommend you having the divorce recognised before applying for the name declaration.
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. You can find information on how to get your British documents issued with apostilles here.