Unilateral name declaration (e.g. after divorce or death of a spouse)
The name of a German national does not change automatically after a divorce or the death of a spouse.
After a divorce recognised in Germany or the death of a spouse, it is possible to change back to the birth name by making a name declaration. It is also possible to change back to a surname used before the marriage (e.g. a previous married name).
If it is preferred to keep the married name from a marriage that has ended through divorce or death, no name declaration is necessary.
A unilateral name declaration is also relevant if a person already bears a married name according to German law, but would like to add their birth name with a hyphen.
In addition, it is possible to remove a birth name that was added to a German married name with a hyphen through a unilateral name declaration.
The name declaration is made by the German partner concerned; the agreement or presence of the former/other spouse is not necessary.
If you would like to make a name declaration after divorce or the death of a spouse, copies of the necessary documents (NO ORIGINALS!) must be sent to the Embassy or Consulate General before booking an appointment.
The following documents are required for the name declaration:
- Completed form (please complete legibly not using block capital letters, but do not sign yet! Choose one naming option only!); the form can be downloaded below
- Valid German passport or identity card and other passports if applicable
- Naturalisation certificate or citizenship certificate if applicable
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate
- Evidence that you have a married name (name certificate issued by German registry office, extract from family register/ marriage register or German marriage certificate)
- If you have children, children’s birth certificates (“full” version stating the parents)
- If there is a register entry for the marriage in Germany, evidence of this (e.g. extract from the family register or German marriage 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
- 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)
Only relevant in cases of unilateral name declarations after death of a spouse:
- Spouse’s death certificate
Only relevant in cases of unilateral name declarations after divorce:
- Divorce decree absolute
- If the 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, must be presented. You can apply for such a 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 will require the formal recognition of the foreign divorce. Only with the formal recognition decree you will be considered divorced according to German law. Please have the divorce recognised before applying for the name change after divorce.
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.