Law on Names and Name Declarations

12.12.2022 - Article

The married name

If you got married and did not make a name declaration under the German legal system, your surname does not change. If you wish to take your partner’s name, thus have a joint married name, also known as a double-barrelled surname (Doppelname), a name declaration is necessary.

A name declaration can be made at any time during the existence of the marriage. The declaration is irrevocable.

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Possible Options:

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 (Doppelname) for him- or herself, if his/her name does not become the joint family name.

You can also choose not to apply German law, but the law of one of the spouse's home country for your married name. It is advisable to choose this option if the preferred married name is not permissible according to German law.
Please take note: As “married names” do not exist in Malaysian law, it is not possible to choose Malaysian law.

The name of a child

A child born to a German parent abroad does not always have a surname, recognized by the German legal system, even if a name has already been entered into the foreign birth certificate.

If 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 most cases the choice will automatically apply to younger siblings of the same parents.

If one parent has a foreign citizenship, you may choose to apply foreign law to the name of your child. Choosing for example Malaysian law is advisable if your child shall have a name not permissible according to German law, e.g. a name in line with the various Malaysian traditions. The choice does not have any bearing on siblings, separate name declarations must be made for each child.

If you are planning to apply for registration of a birth, a necessary name declaration can be submitted together with the birth registration (see third page of application form for birth registration). If you do not apply for birth registration, a name declaration can be submitted separately, for example prior to applying for a German passport.

How to make a name declaration?

A name declaration must be made in person:

Bring all documents and certificates listed below in the original. The originals will be returned to you at once and not be sent to Germany.

All documents which are not in German or English must be furnished with a German translation. As entries in Malaysian certificates are in Bahasa Melayu only, Malaysian certificates have to be translated as well even though the forms are bilingual. Note that the registrar's office might also ask for German translations of English documents.

Please note that most registry offices request foreign certificates to be legalized or with apostille. Please refer to our information about the legalization process for Malaysian certificates: More information

The Embassy will forward your name declaration and supplementing documents to the registry office in Germany. The registry office will most likely charge an additional fee for the certificate of approximately 12,- Euros, to be paid directly to the registry office.

Information concerning data protection with regards to the processing of your application can be found here.

Note: Not all possible cases and scenarios can be represented here. Additional documentation might be required depending on your individual case.

Required documents:

Both spouses must appear in person. Necessary documents and certificates:

  • form, fully completed
  • proof of identity of both spouses (passport/ID)
  • proof of citizenship of both spouses (passport, citizenship certificate, naturalisation certificate, etc.)
  • birth certificates of both spouses
  • birth certificates of all children
  • marriage certificate
  • in case of previous marriages: divorce decree or death certificate of late spouse
  • if applicable: acknowledgement of paternity
  • if applicable: adoption order
  • fees

  • form, fully completed
  • proof of identity (passport/ID)
  • if applicable: name certificate or German marriage certificate
  • birth certificate
  • divorce decree or death certificate of late spouse
  • in case of divorce: recognition of the foreign divorce order, issued by the competent German authority
  • fees

  • form, fully completed
  • proof of identity of both parents and if applicable the child (passport/ID)
  • proof of citizenship of both parents and the child (passports, citizenship certificates, naturalisation certificates, etc.)
  • birth certificate of both parents
  • birth certificate of the child
  • if applicable: marriage certificate of the parents
  • in case of previous marriages of the parents: divorce decree or death certificate of late spouse
  • in case of children born out of wedlock: proof of the marital status of the mother at the time of birth of the child
  • if applicable: acknowledgement of paternity / adoption order
  • if applicable: birth certificates of siblings
  • fees

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