Giving a name


A person's surname and name is governed by the laws of the country of which that person is a national.


Which surname will my child take when it is born?

If your child is Belgian by birth, (see Nationality section), Belgian law applies when determining the child's surname.

Attention: There is a difference between "surname" and "parentage". The relationship between a father and his child is governed by the laws of the country of which the father is a national, while the child's surname is defined by the law of the country of which the child is a national.


Which surname does the child take when paternity and maternity are jointly established?

The following regulations have been applicable since 1 July 2007:

  • If the child's parentage was acknowledged before birth (prenatal acknowledgement) or in the birth certificate, the Belgian child takes the father's surname.
  • If the child's parentage was acknowledged after birth, in a separate document (postnatal acknowledgement), the Belgian child does not automatically take the father's surname. The change of name must be explicitly mentioned in this document, at the request of the mother and father. A change of name cannot be executed by a notarial act.
  • If the name has not been changed in the acknowledgement of parentage, it can still be done in a separate document drawn up by the Registrar. This document must be signed by both parents, in person, within a year of the acknowledgement and before the child turns eighteen.
  • If the child's father is married to a woman other than the child's mother, the wife does not have to give her consent for his child to be given his surname.

A Belgian consulate abroad can draw up a change of name certificate for a child when that child's habitual residence is abroad.


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.

The rule may be different if you are also a national of another EU Member State. For further information on this matter, contact the Federal Public Service Justice, Service Changements de Nom, Boulevard de Waterloo 11, B-1000 Brussels (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) through administrative channels. For further information regarding this, contact the Federal Public Service, Service Changements de Nom, Boulevard de Waterloo 115, B-1000 Brussels (tel: +32 (0) 2 542 67 04, fax: 02/542.70.23, email: info@just.fgov.be).


Change of name obtained abroad

A voluntary change of name by a Belgian abroad is not recognised in Belgium.

Exception: in some cases, for Belgian nationals who are also nationals of another European country, the name change may be accepted.


Further information can also be obtained by contacting: