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Name declaration for children under 18

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A German child born abroad does not necessarily obtain the last name that is indicated in the foreign (e.g. Canadian) birth certificate.

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General Information

A German child born abroad does not necessarily obtain the last name that is indicated in the foreign (e.g. Canadian) birth certificate.

If the child's name is not yet determined according to German law or if the parents wish to change the name which the child automatically acquired at birth according to German law, a name declaration will be required. A name declaration may also be included in a birth registration.  

Please find below an overview of the most frequent cases and what they mean for the name of a child. The overview is mostly relevant for children born in Canada on and after September 1st 1986. If the child was born before September 1st 1986 or in a different country, the result might be different.

  • CASE 1: The parents of the child 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 is not necessary. A German marriage certificate indicating the family name or a German name certificate issued by a civil registry must be provided.

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 in accordance with a 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.

  • CASE 2: The parents of the child are married at the time of the child’s birth and carry different names

According to German law, the child has no last name yet. A name declaration is necessary. If the parents choose the name in accordance with German law, the name extends to all other children born in the marriage. If the child is already 18 years old, it has to give the declaration itself: name declaration for an adult

  • CASE 3:
  • The parents of the child are not married at the time of child’s birth
  • The father has acknowledged the paternity and is entered in the birth certificate
  • The mother of the child is not a German citizen

At the time of its birth, the child automatically obtains the last name of the mother. The parents can change the name until the 18th birthday of the child. If the child is already 14 years old, it has to give an additional declaration of consent.

  • CASE 4:
  • The parents of the child are not married at the time of child’s birth
  • The father has acknowledged the paternity and is entered in the birth certificate
  • The mother of the child is a German citizen

At the time of its birth, the child automatically obtains the last name of the mother. The parents can change the name until the 18th birthday of the child.

In order to do that the paternity must be valid according to German law. In individual cases, that requires an additional declaration of the child’s mother consenting to the acknowledgment of paternity. Such a declaration can only be given at the consulate in Toronto. After that, a name change can be declared. Both parents have to agree to the name change. If the child is already 14 years old, it has to give an additional declaration of consent.

Further Information about the declaration of the mother regarding the acknowledgment of paternity: declaration of consent of mother

Please be advised: the name of a German child is primarily determined by German law. German law allows the current name of the mother or the father as a child’s last name.

If parents want a different name for the child (f.ex. a hyphenated name), they can decide before the 18th birthday of the child that its name should be governed by foreign law. Parents can choose the law by which the child’s name shall be determined and the specific chosen name in one declaration. A name chosen in accordance with foreign law does not extend to further children of these 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.

Necessary documents

(each as original and two copies*)

Please be advised that the following are documents that have to be presented in routine cases. In individual cases the consulate or the civil registry in Germany can demand further documentation.

  • Filled out application form, not signed
    Formular: Erklärung zur Namensführung eines minderjährigen Kindes PDF / 318 KB
  • Birth certificate of the child (If born in Canada: “long form”/“registration of life birth”, issued by the respective province)
  • Birth certificates of both parents (If born in Canada: “long form”/“registration of life birth”, issued by the respective province)
  • Valid permanent residence card or valid Canadian visa of the German parent/s
  • Valid passports of both parents (if current passport of German parent was issued after the birth of the child: German passport issued before the birth of the child)
  • If child is older than 14 years: valid passport of child
  • If parents are married: Official marriage certificate (if married in Canada: “long form”, issued by the respective province; marriage certificates issued by religious institutions or marriage license / proof of solemnization of marriage are not sufficient)
  • If applicable: Proof of acknowledgment of paternity (if parents were not married at the time of birth of child and child was born outside of Canada)
  • If applicable: Proof of dissolution of parents’ marriage or prior marriages of each parent (court decree or death certificate of former spouse)
  • If applicable: proof of deregistration of German parent/s (Abmeldebestätigung)
  • If the German parent was naturalized in Germany: certificate of naturalization
  • If the German parent was naturalized in Canada: Canadian certificate of naturalization + „Beibehaltungsgenehmigung“

Documents issued in a foreign language except German or English have to be presented with translation.

*The Consulate can not copy documents. Applicants have to bring 2 sets of copies of all relevant documents.

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