Giving a name


If you are Belgian, all changes to your civil status are governed by Belgian law. Belgian law applies even if you live abroad.

If you live abroad, you must inform your local Belgian embassy or consulate of all changes to your civil status.

Which surname will my child be given when it is born?

Note: If your child is born abroad, legislation in that country with regard to parentage and surnames may be different to Belgian legislation on this matter. Details appearing on birth certificates issued abroad regarding parentage and the child's surname are not always recognized in Belgium.

If the child is born with the Belgian nationality, (cf. section nationality), Belgian law is applied to determine the child's surname.

Which surname will my child be given if it is acknowledged by the father?

1. Before 1 July 2007, the following regulations were applicable:

If the child's parentage was acknowledged before birth or in the birth certificate, the Belgian child will be given the father's surname unless the father was married to a woman other than the child's mother at the time of birth.

If, as the father of the child, you are married to a woman other than the child's mother, your wife must in any case give her consent for the child to be given your surname. This consent can be given in the certificate or in an authentic deed drawn up in advance. However, your wife does not have to be present when the change of name certificate is signed.

If your child is acknowledged in a separate document after birth, the child will not automatically be given the father's surname unless the change of name is explicitly mentioned in the certificate acknowledging a child's parentage, at the request of both the father and the mother.

However, a change of name cannot be executed by a notarial act.

If the name is not changed in the certificate acknowledging a child's parentage, this can still be done in a separate document drawn up by the registrar. This document must also be signed personally by both parents within a year of the acknowledgement and before the child turns eighteen.

The surname of a child with Belgian nationality can only be modified under Belgian law. A change of name abroad is not recognised in Belgium.

2. From 1 July 2007 onwards, the following regulations have been applicable:

If the child's parentage was acknowledged before birth or in the birth certificate, the Belgian child will be given the father's surname.

If your Belgian child is acknowledged in a separate document after birth, it will not automatically be given the father's surname, unless the change of name is explicitly mentioned in the certificate, at the request of both the father and the mother. A change of name cannot be executed by a notarial act.

If the name is not changed in the certificate acknowledging a child's parentage, this can still be done in a separate document drawn up by the registrar. This document must be signed personally by both parents within a year of the acknowledgement and before the child turns eighteen.

If you are married to a woman other than the child's mother, your wife does no longer have to give her consent for the child to be given your surname.

Will marriage affect my surname?

Under Belgian law, marriage does not have any effect on the spouses' surnames. You keep the surname that you had before you were married unless you are also a national of another EU Member State.  For further information on this matter, contact: Federal Public Service JusticeNo label found for: as_externallink.alttag, Service Changements de nom, Boulevard de Waterloo 11, B-1000 Bruxelles (tel. +32 (0) 2 542 67 04, fax +32 (0) 2 542 70 23, email: info@just.fgov.be).

Can I change my surname or first name(s)?

You can also change your surname or first name(s) in a separate document which is not a certificate acknowledging a child's parentage or an adoption certificate. To do this, you should contact: Federal Public ServiceNo label found for: as_externallink.alttag, Service Changements de nom, Boulevard de Waterloo 115, B-1000 Bruxelles (tel. +32 (0) 2 542 67 04, fax +32 (0) 2 542 70 23, email: info@just.fgov.be).

Further information can also be obtained by contacting:

  • Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, Registry Department
  • The embassy or consulate in your main place of residence abroad
  • Your municipal authority in Belgium