The name of a German citizen does not change automatically by divorce or death of a spouse. After the dissolution of a marriage, it is possible to change the last name back to the birth name or a previous married name by name declaration.
In order to change your name, you have to give a name declaration in accordance with German law. You can apply for a new passport under the new name only after you have received certificate confirming the change of name.
Please note: If you were divorced outside of Germany, the foreign divorce decree has to be acknowledged by a German court before you give any name declarations. Until then, your divorce is not considered valid according to German law. You can find more information here: Recognition of a foreign divorce decree
Which documents do I need to complete?
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 deviated spelling.
How do I need to submit the application?
The Registrar’s Office in Germany that was your last place of residency is responsible for processing the application. If you never resided in Germany, the Registrar’s Office I in Berlin is the appropriate office for processing the application.
The German Consular Missions in the U.S. however do not process the applications, but only forward them, upon request, to the appropriate Registrar’s Office in Germany. You however also have the option to send your application directly to the appropriate Registrar’s Office. This would not be to your disadvantage. It sometimes leads to a quicker processing of the applications.
If you wish to submit your application through a German Consular Mission, you need to be present during the appointment, since your signature on the form must be notarized.
What documents do I need?
If you would like to directly submit the application to the Registrar’s Office in Germany, please send in one completed application 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 two completed application forms as well as the documents mentioned below as notarized copies (plus one set of simple copies), or in the original (plus 2 sets of simple copies):
- Valid German passport of the applicant
- If last German passport was issued in Germany: Proof of de-registration (Abmeldebescheinigung)
- Birth certificate (If born in the U.S.: “long form”/“registration of life birth”)
- Official marriage certificate (marriage certificates issued by religious institutions or marriage license / proof of solemnization of marriage are not sufficient - marriage must have been registered with the court)
- Official, absolute divorce decree or divorce order
- Proof of recognition of the divorce by a German court (if divorce order was ruled outside of Germany, the divorce always has to be recognized by a German court)
- Valid Permanent Residence card or valid visa for the U.S.
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 is the fee for the name declaration?
During your appointment at the Embassy, you initially only pay the fee for notarizing your signature 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 on the application form
notarization of the copies of the required supporting documents, up to 10 copies
each additional copy
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 application.
How long will it take to process the name declaration?
The processing time depends on the Registrar's Office in charge and varies significantly 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, the German passport with the new name can be issued.
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 application in person, please use our interactive consulate finder