German name law
The regulations regarding naming and name changes are completely different in Germany and Australia. German nationals are generally subject to German law with respect to the use of a name. The possible names which may be used under German law may deviate from those entered in Australian birth certificates or identification documents. For example the name of a German or Australian-German child which is entered in an Australian birth certificate might not be the same name according to German law. There are also different regulations for name changes after marriage or divorce in Germany and Australia. Problems regarding the name of a person mainly emerge when applying for a German passport as the German Consulates are only allowed to enter names according to German law in German passports. However in most cases it is possible to obtain the same name in both countries by lodging a name declaration.
Apart from name declarations you can also apply for the entry of your child’s birth in the German birth register or your marriage in the German marriage register. The register office in Germany will then issue a German birth certificate for your child or a German marriage certificate after processing your application.
Please note that name changes by deed poll are not recognised according to German law. In those cases a “öffentlich-rechtliche” name declaration has to be done (name change under public law).
You can download the name change forms from our website. If you are not sure how to complete the form, please only fill in the personal details and leave the part regarding the name declaration blank.
To lodge a name change, you have to
The German missions in Australia accept your name declarations, certify your signatures on the form as well as the copies, and forward the documents to the relevant register office in Germany. The applications are processed by the register office, which might ask for additional documents which are not stated here. In this case, we will inform you accordingly. The processing times of the different register offices in Germany differ and cannot be predicted by us. You should allow for two to three months at least. However, if it is a complex case or if the register office has further questions, it might take longer.
The same procedure applies to the registration of births or marriages in the German birth or marriage register. However the processing times are very long and can take several months and up to 3 years depending on the register office.
After processing your name declaration the register office will send a name certificate to the Consulate. You will need the certificate for the passport application. The register office charges a fee for the certificate, usually about €10.00. As soon as we receive the name certificate from the register office we will email you further information regarding the payment of the fee. The name certificate will then be sent to your address by post.
Once you have received the name certificate you can apply for a German passport or ID card in the new name.
At the appointment for the name declaration you only pay the fees for the certification of your signature and the certification of the copies you need to bring. Only at the German Embassy in Canberra, at the German Consulate General in Sydney, and at the office of the Honorary Consul in Adelaide can fees be paid either in cash (in Australian Dollars, please enquire the current fee at the Embassy/Consulate) or with credit card (Visa or MasterCard - transaction will be processed in Euro). Other payment methods (e.g. with smart watch, mobile phone) are not accepted.
At the other offices of the Honorary Consuls fees can only be paid in cash (in Australian Dollars at the current exchange rate of the German Missions).
The registry office charges an additional fee for the issuance of a name certificate and birth or marriage certificates as well as for the registration of a birth or marriage which need to be transferred directly to the register office’s account. You will receive an email with further details once your application has been processed.
Make an appointment
You can lodge your application at the German Embassy in Canberra, the Consulate General in Sydney or any of the Honorary Consuls:
Important information regarding appointment booking:
Please note that you only need to book one appointment if you want to make name declarations for more than one child.
Please make sure that your application is complete. You need to bring all required documents as original plus two photocopies each to the appointment. Please note that incomplete applications will not be accepted and a new appointment would have to be booked. You should therefore carefully read the information about the service you have requested (e.g. name declaration, registration of birth, application for registration of marriage or civil partnership) on our website.
Please arrive on time for your appointment. Applicants who are late cannot be seen that day and will have to book a new appointment.
For birth name declarations both parents and children over 14 years must be present since their signatures on the name declaration must be certified.
For married name declarations both spouses must be present at the appointment.
Name declaration with an Honorary Consul
Your signatures on the form and the copies can also be certified by one of our Honorary Consuls. Please note that the Honorary Consuls can only give you limited advice about the name declarations. If you have any questions, please contact the Consulate General in Sydney before your appointment.
Please contact the Consulate General in Sydney using our contact forms if you have any questions which are not explained on our website.