The name of a German citizen is governed by German law, even if his or her last name is already shown on a foreign birth certificate. Therefore, a name declaration might be necessary before a German passport can be issued to your child.
Is a name declaration necessary? What options do we have?
1. A child whose parents are married at the time of the child’s birth and who bear a married name (“Ehename”) will obtain the parents’ married name as birth name. A name declaration is not possible.
2. In cases where the parents are married, but do not have the same married name, the parents will have to make a name declaration in order for the child to obtain a birth name, even if the child has already been registered abroad under a certain last name.
For example: The parents may choose the last name of the mother or the last name of the father as the child’s birth name.
3. A child whose parents are not married at the time of the child’s birth will usually have the mother’s last name as birth name. Thus, a name declaration is not necessary, if you want the child to have the mother’s last name. If the parents desire a different last name for their child, then the parents will have to make a name declaration.
4. A double last name combining the parents’ last names is usually not possible according to German law. In cases where one parent has a citizenship other than German (f.i. US citizenship), the parents have the possibility to choose foreign law to become applicable for the child’s last name. The last name of the child will then be governed by the law of that parent’s nationality, so a double name (or indeed any other combination) may be possible of that law permits it. The name selection does not apply to future children.
For example: If your spouse is a US citizen and you choose US law to govern your child’s last name, you may also choose a double or hyphenated name – consisting of both last names of the parents – for your child.
5. As of 29 January 2013, a new statutory provision applies (Article 48 of the Introductory Act to the Civil Code, EGBGB) under which family names which have been acquired during a habitual residence in any EU country and have been registered there in a register of births are recognized for the purposes of German law, provided this does not contradict the fundamental principles of German law on names. If such a name is chosen for a child, a declaration of name must be executed for this purpose.
What do I need to fill out?
Download the Application Form here:
Please print out the application form and complete it carefully (do not use block capital letters because this could result in deviating spellings!). Instead of doing a name declaration, the parents can alternatively register the birth of their child in the register of births at the competent registrar’s office (“Standesamt”) in Germany and a German birth certificate can be issued. The name declaration is included in the application form for the birth registration. For general information on registering the birth of a child, please click here:
What documents do I need?
In addition to the completed application form, the following documents have to be submitted as certified copies with one set of simple copies:
- US birth certificate of the child
- if the place of birth has been mentioned as a county only, please additionally add a “proof of birth letter” issued by the hospital
- marriage certificate of the parents (the registrar’s office I in Berlin needs the marriage certificate issued by the registrar/clerk of the court)
- passports of the parents; for Non-US citizens proof of legal status in the US (visa or Green Card)
- birth certificates of the mother and father
- if child was born out of wedlock, additionally proof of an acknowledgement of paternity
- in case of dual citizenship, U.S. Naturalization Certificate with “Beibehaltungsgenehmigung”
- if applicable, German Naturalization Certificate or “Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis”
- if applicable, divorce decree or death certificate
- if applicable, deregistration from Germany (“Abmeldebescheinigung”)
The Registrar’s Offices in Germany have the right to request apostilles and translations of all foreign documents. It is up to the discretion of the competent Registrar’s Office whether the documents are accepted with or without an apostille and translation.
Based on the experiences of the German Missions in the U.S., depending on the individual Registrar’s Office, the requirements for the documents that have to be submitted vary considerably. This applies to how the documents are being certified (notarized by a U.S. Notary Public or a German Consular Officer), as well as to what kind of documents need to be presented (certified copies or originals/with or without an apostille/with or without a translation into German). In order to expedite the processing of your application, we recommend that you contact the appropriate Registrar’s Office in Germany prior to submitting your application. This would also include inquiring about the possibility of sending the documents directly to the Registrar’s Office without involving the German Missions.
What does it cost?
The signatures of both parents must be certified on the application form. The certification of signatures can be done either by a notary public or at the competent German mission if both parents are present. The fee for the signature certification at the German missions is € 25.00 and can be paid in cash at the daily exchange rate in U.S. dollars or by credit card in euros (Visa or Mastercard only).
The registrar’s office in Germany requires the submission of certified photocopies of the supporting documents. Copies may be certified by a notary public. Please ensure that the notary public him-/herself states on the document that the copy corresponds with the original (certified true copy).
Alternatively, the copies may also be certified for a fee of € 10.00 at the German missions, if the documents are submitted in original with two sets of copies. The fee can be paid in cash at the daily exchange rate in U.S. dollars or by credit card in euros (Visa or Mastercard only).
Once the application is complete, it is forwarded to the competent registrar’s office in Germany, where it will be processed.
A certificate about the validity of the name declaration can be ordered, which is recommended for future passport applications. The fee for the issuance is set by each registrar’s office individually and is normally € 12.00 each. The registrar’s office will forward the necessary account information upon receipt of the application.
How long will it take to process the name declaration?
The processing time for name declarations depends on the registrar's office and varies from city to city.
Given the ever increasing number of applications, please be advised that processing at the Registrar’s Office I in Berlin usually takes two to three months. Once the last name has been confirmed a German passport can be issued.
Where do I have to go?
To find out which of the nine German missions in the US is responsible for you, the correct mailing address or whether you need an appointment to personally submit the application, please use our interactive consulate finder.
Nine German Missions throughout the US offer consular services. Each Mission covers a specific geographic region. To find out which Mission can assist you, please use our Consulate Finder.