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Name declaration under public law

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If you want to change your name and none of the name change possibilities in this section applies to you, you might be able to change your name „under public law“.

The German name law is comprehensively regulated by the provisions of the Civil Code (BGB). Any name change under public law can only be an exemption and is used exclusively to eliminate incalculable hardships in individual cases. It is not a viable means of preserving the name bearer from any kind of inconvenience and difficulty which may entail the management of a particular name.

A name change under public law can only be justified by an “important reason”.

An important reason for a name change may be, for example,

  • If the name sounds obnoxious or ridiculous
  • If the name causes significant difficulties in spelling or pronunciation
  • If the name is one of the so-called collective names (e.g., Meyer, Müller, Schmidt)

Even if your name is changeable, the application is usually rejected if you are entered into the debtor directory, criminal proceedings against you are pending or if you have a significant criminal record. In these cases public interest in retaining the existing name prevails due to of the identification function of the name.

At the appointment, the following documents are required as originals and two photocopies each:

  • Completed name declaration form (please only fill out the first page of the form and do not sign the declaration yet)
  • current passport
  • if you don't have a German passport (yet): Proof of German citizenship (naturalization certificate, citizenship certificate), passport of German parent(s)
  • your birth certificate
  • if applicable: marriage certificate
  • if applicable: German deregistration certificate (Abmeldebescheinigung) from your last German place of residence or current registration certificate (Meldebescheinigung) from your most recent address in Germany
  • Translations of foreign documents (usually not required for English or “international” documents, for example international birth certificates)
  • Any documentation that show why you want to change your name (proof of your “important reason”).

Fees

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. All fees can be paid in cash in AUD or by credit card (only Visa or Mastercard, no debit cards, only at the German Embassy Canberra and Consulate General in Sydney - please note that the fee is charged in Euros from your credit card and therefore your bank might charge additional fees). 

The register office charges an additional fee for the processing of your application and the issuance of a name change certificate a which needs to be transferred directly to the register office’s account. The fee can reach a maximum of 1.022 EUR. We will send you an email with further details once your application has been processed.

Application form

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