Name Declaration for a Child

01.07.2023 - Article

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.

Baby© picture-alliance / dpa

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?

If the parents were married at the time of the child's birth

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 a birth name. A name declaration is not necessary. The married name must be demonstrated by a German marriage certificate or name certificate.

However, 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.

If the parents were not married at the time of the child's birth

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 if the mother has sole custody for the child. 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.

If the parents are not married to each other but have shared legal custody for the child then usually a name declaration and proof of acknowledgment of paternity is required.

Name declaration according to foreign law

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 (e.g. U.S. 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 if that law permits it. The name selection does not apply to future children.

In its decision of May 9, 2018 - XII ZB 47/17, the Federal Court of Justice ruled that the choice of law to a domestic law is not possible if the child's name can be freely determined under the chosen law, thereby allowing the determination of a so-called fantasy name. The choice of such a legal system is also excluded if the custodial parents ultimately do not choose a fantasy name at all but, for example, a double name formed from the surnames of the parents.
Since the law of most U.S. states permits fantasy names, the choice in U.S. law for naming purposes is no longer possible there.

Name acquired during a habitual residence in any EU country

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 (Art. 48 EGBGB).

Under no circumstances is the name automatically taken from the foreign birth certificate. As a rule, the surname of the child (even a double name) entered in the European birth certificate can be declared the birth name. A name declaration according to Art. 48 EGBGB does not extend to further children, a name declaration must be made for each child.

Which documents do we have to complete?

Download the declaration form here:

Declaration form in German, barrier-free

Declaration form, bilingual, not barrier-free

Please print out the declaration form and complete it carefully. Do not use block capital letters because this could result in deviated spelling.

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.

General information on registering the birth of a child

How do we have to submit the declaration?

The Registrar’s Office in Germany that was the last place of residency of the child is responsible for processing the declaration. If the child has never taken up residency in Germany, then the last place of German residence of one parent. If neither the child nor the parents ever resided in Germany, the Registrar’s Office in Berlin is the appropriate office for processing the birth registration.

The German Consular Missions in the U.S. however do not process the declarations, but forward them, upon request, to the appropriate Registrar’s Office in Germany. You however also have the option to send your declaration directly to the appropriate Registrar’s Office. In this case, your signatures would have to be notarized by a U.S. Notary Public.

If you wish to submit your declaration through a German Consular Mission, both parents that have custody need to be present during the appointment, since both of their signatures on the form must be notarized. If your child is already 14 years old or older, the child also must be present and sign the form.

What documents do we need?

If you would like to directly submit the declaration to the Registrar’s Office in Germany, please send in one completed declaration form, including the documents mentioned below as notarized copies or in the original. Copies may be notarized by the German Consular Mission or a Notary Public, see information leaflet.

If you would like to submit your application through the German consular mission, please present one completed application form as well as the documents mentioned below in the original. Copies are made at the German mission and then notarized for a fee.

  • U.S. American birth certificate (if the birth certificate only states the county as place of birth, either a “proof of birth letter” with the town of birth, issued by the hospital must be presented, or a “long-form” of the birth certificate)
  • marriage certificate of the parents (issued by the “Registrar/Clerk of the Court”)
  • passports of both parents; for non-U.S. citizens residence permit (visa or Green Card)
  • birth certificates of both parents
  • if child was born out of wedlock , acknowledgement of paternity as well
  • in case of dual citizenship, U.S. Naturalization Certificate and “Beibehaltungsgenehmigung”
  • if applicable, German naturalization certificate or “Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis”
  • if applicable, divorce decree or death certificate
  • if applicable, deregistration (“Abmeldebescheinigung”) from Germany

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 declaration, we recommend that you contact the appropriate Registrar’s Office in Germany prior to submitting your declaration. This would also include inquiring about the possibility of sending the documents directly to the Registrar’s Office without involving the German Missions.

What is the fee for a child's name declaration?

During your appointment at the Embassy, you initially only pay the fee for notarizing your signature(s) and for notarizing the copies of the supporting documents. You may pay the fee in cash in US-Dollars at the current exchange rate or with credit card (Visa or Mastercard, the amount will be charged in Euros):

notarization of the signature(s) on the declaration form

notarization of the copies of the required supporting documents

24.83 EUR to 28.54 EUR

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 EUR each.

The fees cannot be paid at the German Consular Mission, but must be settled with the respective Registrar’s Office. The Registrar’s Office will send you a payment request after it received your declaration .

How long will it take to process the name declaration?

The processing times depends on the Registrar's Office in charge and varies significantly from city to city.

Given the ever increasing numbers of declaration, please be advised that processing at the Registrar’s Office I in Berlin takes at least two to three months. If a name declaration is necessary, the last name of the spouse is confirmed separately by the Registrar’s Office I in Berlin, which usually takes two to three months. Once the last name has been confirmed a German passport can be issued in the new Name.

Which German Consular Mission serves my U.S. home state?

To find out which of the nine German Consular Missions in the U.S. serves your U.S. home state, which is the correct mailing address or whether you need to schedule an appointment to submit the declaration in person, please use our interactive consulate finder

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