Germany to liberalise laws around choosing surnames

Germany to liberalise laws around choosing surnames

Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann has announced a draft law that will liberalise the rules around shared family surnames for unmarried couples and registering children with both their parents' names.

Buschmann announces change to German names law

The law surrounding names in Germany is set to change, FDP politician Marco Buschmann has announced. Buschmann has said that the changes will end a “particular curiosity of the current legal situation.”

Speaking to the dpa, Buschmann said that the law should end “discrimination against [German] nationals” since until now, people without German citizenship who are living in the federal republic have been allowed to change their name in accordance with the law of their country of origin. By contrast, German citizens can only change their name in accordance with German law, which in some cases is more strict.

Buschmann said that the new law will end what he called “discrimination against nationals”.

Germany to relax laws around shared family names

Though a draft law is yet to be drawn up, Buschmann has given some details about what is likely to be included. In future, people in Germany will have more choices when it comes to choosing a family surname.

If a couple gets married and would like to combine both of their surnames into a double-barrel name, with or without a hyphen, they will be allowed to do so. If the couple has a child, they will be able to pass this name on to the baby, and if they are not married they will still be allowed to give the baby a double-barrel name which combines their two surnames.

Buschmann also announced that the new law will mean that people who have non-German surnames with gendered suffixes or prefixes, such as -dóttir and -sson in Icelandic or Nic- and Mac- in Gaelic, will not be limited to choosing one version of their family names. This also applies to Sorb, Danish and Friesian minorities in Germany.

“If people want to continue these traditions, the law shouldn’t get in their way,” Buschmann said.

Thumb image credit: Adriana Iacob /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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