Before a German passport can be issued, the name of a person according to German law must be determined. If a person is in possession of a German birth certificate, the name entered therein is legally binding. If a person only has a foreign birth certificate, the name entered therein is not always valid according to German law. It is possible that according to German law, a person has no last name yet and has to declare a name. It might also be that a person has a name according to German law, but this name might be different from what is indicated in the foreign birth certificate. In such a case, a name change according to German law might be possible. Such a name change has to be declared separately.
A name declaration is also needed if a person wants to take on a new family name after marriage or give up a previous family name after a divorce.
German citizens cannot change their name before Canadian authorities. Any name change of a German citizen declared by a Canadian authority is invalid in most cases and has to be repeated before German authorities.
Name declaration or name change?
A first-time name declaration has to be done if a person does not yet have a last name according to German law. This is usually the case if the parents of a child are married at the time of birth, but do not have the same last name.
If a child is born to parents who are not married, German law dictates that the child automatically obtains the last name of the mother. A subsequent acknowledgment of paternity or marriage of the mother does not automatically change the child’s name. A separate declaration to change the name is possible before the child turns 18 years old.
Before the child’s name can be changed to that of the father, the acknowledgment of paternity has to be valid also according to German law. If the mother of the child is a German citizen, an additional declaration before German authorities might be necessary. You will find further information here: Declaration of consent
A name change is also necessary if a married couple wants to use a common family name, or if a person wants to go back to using a previous name after a divorce.
What do I need to do?
After gathering all necessary documents (please see lists of documents in the relevant subcategories), please fill out the respective application form for the name declaration/name change and then book an appointment at the competent German Mission via our website.
All persons who have to sign the application form must be present in person at the consulate:
Married couples declaring a family name have to appear at the Consulate together.
Children who are 14 years or older have to be present together with their parents if the parents are declaring a name for the child.
Who is the competent authority?
Name declarations can be given before the German Consulates in Toronto and Vancouver or before one of our Honorary Consuls. In order to do so, please book an appointment using our appointment system.
Name declarations are processed by the civil registry at the current or last place of residency of the child or applicant in Germany.
If the child or applicant never resided in Germany, the Standesamt I in Berlin will process the application and issue the birth certificate.
The Consulate will forward the application to the competent civil registry office. After the declaration has been processed, the civil registry office issues a name change certificate (for an extra fee). This certificate is necessary for all future passport applications.
Processing of name declarations at the Standesamt I in Berlin take between 8 and 12 weeks, if all documents are complete. Processing times at other civil registry offices may vary.
Certification of signature on application form for name declaration/name change
approx. 40 CAD
Certification of copies of relevant documents
approx. 15 CAD per 10 pages*
Both payable when applying at the Consulate, in cash (Canadian Dollar).
Name change certificate
Payable directly to the Standesamt I (Berlin) after issuance of the certificate (we recommend to wire transfer the amount from a German account to avoid fees from the Canadian bank)
10 EUR per certificate**
Exact fees in CAD depend on the current CAD/EUR exchange rate.
* The consulate cannot copy documents for you. Applicants have to present all documents as originals + 2 copies each together with the application.
** If another civil registry but the Standesamt I processes your case, the fee may vary.
This page provides information for most routine cases presented to the German Missions in Canada. Due to the complexity of the German name law and the multitude of conceivable case scenarios each individual case may have to be treated differently. This information is therefore meant only as an orientation and neither substitutes legal advice based on a detailed case nor does it foreclose the decision of the registrar, which remains reserved in all cases. Should your case not be covered, please contact the competent German mission.
Please be advised that any name declarations only refer to a person’s last name. The first name of a person, unless in exceptional cases, is determined with the birth registration abroad by the parents.