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 the Nationality section), Belgian law applies when determining the child's surname.
Note: There is a difference between "surname" and "parentage". The relationship between a parent (mother/father) and their child is governed by the laws of the country of which the parent (mother/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 parentage has been established for one parent (mother/father)?
The child takes the surname of the parent (mother/father) for whom parentage has been established.
Which surname does the child take when parentage has been simultaneously established for both parents?
The Law of 8 May 2014, which came into force on 1 June 2014, has fundamentally changed the old regulations.
Prior to 1 June 2014, the child would have taken its father's surname.
From 1 June 2014, parents have several options: the surname of one of the parents or a combination of both names. When the couple has children together who were born before 1st June 2014, this choice is more limited.
The Law of 8 May 2014 provides for a certain number of transitional measures through which a name that has already been given can be changed by a parents' declaration.
Since 01/01/2015, this declaration, which could previously only be executed at the Belgian municipality where the child was registered in the population registers, can now also be proposed at the Belgian consulate where the child is registered in the population registers.
Where parentage has been established for one parent, what surname does the child take upon acknowledgement by the other parent?
The following regulations have been applicable since 1 June 2014.
- If the child's parentage was acknowledged BEFORE birth (prenatal acknowledgement) or in the birth certificate.
The Belgian child is in the same situation as when parentage has been simultaneously established for both parents with certain limitations, where applicable (see above).
- If the child's parentage was acknowledged AFTER birth in a separate document (postnatal acknowledgement).
The surname of a Belgian child is not automatically changed. The change of name must be explicitly mentioned in the acknowledgement of parentage, at the request of both parents. The options for the choice of surname are the same as when parentage has been simultaneously established for both parents with, where applicable, the same limitations (see above).
However, a change of name cannot be done by a notarial act.
If the name is not changed in the acknowledgement of parentage, the name may still be changed in a separate document drawn up by the Registrar. The document must be signed personally by both parents within a year following the acknowledgement and before the child turns eighteen.
If the person acknowledging a child is married to a person other than the child's mother, the spouse's agreement is not needed for that person to give their surname to the child.
A Belgian consulate abroad can draw up a change of name certificate for a Belgian 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, e-mail: email@example.com).
Can I change my surname or first name(s)?
You can also change your surname or first name(s) through administrative channels.
Using this procedure, Belgian nationals who are also nationals of another European Union Member State can obtain the surname that they would take in accordance with the regulations relating to surnames applicable in the European Union Member State of which they are also a national.
For further information on this matter, 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, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
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:
- The Belgian consulate in your place of residence abroad
- The Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, Registry Service