A German child born abroad does not necessarily obtain the last name that is indicated in the foreign (e.g. Canadian) birth certificate.
When do I need a name declaration for my child born abroad? Below you will find the most common case constellations (please note that the information applies for children born in Canada after 1 September 1986. If your child was born in another country, the information may differ):
If the parents are married at the time of the child’s birth and carry a family name according to German law, the child automatically obtains the family name as its last name. An additional name declaration ist not necessary (§ 1616 BGB). As proof of your married name, you need to present a German marriage certificate of name certificate issued by a German civil registry.
If the parents want a different name for the child (i.e. a hyphenated name), the parents can change the name of the child before its 18th birthday by selecting foreign law. This is only possible if one of the parents has a citizenship that allows the desired name. In this case, please contact the competent consulate in Toronto or Vancouver.
If the parents do not carry a family name according to German law and have joint custody, they can choose the name of one parent to be the child’s birth name (§ 1617 BGB). According to German law, the child has no last name before the declaration. A declared name extents to all other minor children.
If you declared your child’s name at the time of birth registration with a Canadian civil registrar, this declaration may be valid under German law also. The declaration has to be signed by both parents (electronic signature suffices). If you can present the birth registration as proof, no additional name declaration is necessary. This is not the case if another name other than of one parent was selected (i.e. a hyphenated name). If you are unsure please contact us prior to booking an appointment via our contact form.
You only have a Canadian birth certificate but not the certified copy of birth registration? You can order the certified copy of birth registration with Vital Statistics of the respective province, further information can be found
For Germans born abroad, it is advisable to have their birth registered in a German civil registry. Once the birth has been registered, a German birth certificate can be issued. A German birth certificate can be used in Germany and the EU without further authentication, whereas a foreign birth certificate might have to be legalized and/or translated before it can be used.
At the time of its birth, the child automatically obtains the last name of the custody holder (this is generally the name of the mother). If you want your child to have your mother’s name, no name declaration is required.
If the child is supposed to have the name of the other parent, the parents can change the child’s name by giving a name declaration until the 18th birthday of the child.
If paternity was acknowledged in Canada as part of the child’s birth registration, the acknowledgement is valid under German law in most provinces. If your child was born in Quebec, you were not married your child’s birth and the child’s mother is a German citizen, an additional declaration of consent to the acknowledgement of paternity has to be notarized. Such a declaration has to be notarized and, within Canada, can be done at the German consulate in Toronto or Vancouver.
If one of the parents has a citizenship other than German, the parents can decide that the child’s name shall be governed by foreign law (i.e. if you wish a hyphenated name). Parents can choose the law by which the child’s name shall be governed and the specific chosen name in one declaration. The parents can make a name declaration by selecting foreign law before the child’s 18th birthday. A name chosen in accordance with foreign law does not extend to further children of the parents.
Due to the complexity of German name law please contact the consulate in advance if you are unsure whether a name declaration is necessary or whether the desired name is possible.
(each as original PLUS 2 copies*)
- Filled out application form, not signed
Erklärungsformular Deutsch, barrierefrei / Declaration form in German, accessible OR
Erklärungsformular zweisprachig, nicht barrierefrei / Declaration form bilingual, not accessible
- birth registration of child (if the child was born in Canada: “Order a copy of birth registration in Canada” or “copie d’acte de naissance” issued by Vital Statistics of the respective province)
- If parents are married: Official marriage certificate (if married in Canada: issued by Vital Statistics; marriage certificates issued by religious institutions or marriage license / proof of solemnization of marriage are not sufficient)
- Birth certificates of both parents (“birth certificate with parental information”)
- Valid passports of both parents, German parent/s have to provide a valid German passport
- Valid permanent residence card (front and back) or valid Canadian visa of the German parent/s
- If parents have lived in Germany before: proof of deregistration of German parent/s from last German residence (Abmeldebestätigung)
- If child is older than 14 years: valid passport of child
- If applicable: Proof of dissolution of parents’ marriage or prior marriages of each parent (court decree or death certificate of former spouse)
- If the German parent was naturalized in Germany: certificate of naturalization
- If the German parent was naturalized in Canada: Canadian certificate of naturalization + “Beibehaltungsgenehmigung”
Translations of foreign – non English – documents have to be submitted in German. Civil status documents originally issued in English are accepted by German civil registry offices in most cases. Please note, that the competent civil registry in Germany may request translations of foreign documents in Germany language.
*The Consulate can not copy documents. Applicants have to bring 2 sets of copies of all relevant documents.