A German child born abroad does not necessarily obtain the last name that is indicated in the foreign birth certificate.
Please find below an overview of the most frequent cases and what they mean for the name of a child. It is mostly relevant for children born abroad on and after 1 September 1986. If the child was born before that, the result might be different.
- Case 1: The parents are married to each other at the time of the child's birth and carry a family name according to German law
The child automatically obtains the family name as its last name. An additional name declaration is not necessary. A German marriage certificate indicating the family name or a German name certificate issued by a Civil Registry must be provided.
If the parents want a different name for the child (i.e. a hyphenated name), the parents can change the name of the child before its 18th birthday in accordance with a foreign law. This is only possible if one of the parents has a citizenship that allows the desired name. In this case, please contact the competent German Embassy in Windhoek.
- Case 2: The parents of the child are married at the time of the child’s birth and carry different names
According to German law, the child has no last name yet. A name declaration is necessary. If the parents choose the name in accordance with German law, the name extends to all other children born in the marriage. If the child is already 18 years old, it has to give the declaration itself.
- Case 3: The parents of the child are not married at the time of the child's birth and
the father has acknowledged the paternity and is entered in the birth certificate and
the mother of the child is not a German citizen
At the time of its birth, the child automatically obtains the last name of the mother. The parents can change the name until the 18th birthday of the child. If the child is already 14 years old, it has to give an additional declaration of consent.
- Case 4: The parents of the child are not married at the time of the child's birth and
the father has acknowleged the paternity and is entered in the birth certificate and
the mother of the child is a German citizen
At the time of its birth, the child automatically obtains the last name of the mother. The parents can change the name until the 18th birthday of the child.
In order to do that the paternity must be valid according to German law. In individual cases, that requires an additional declaration of the child’s mother consenting to the acknowledgment of paternity. Such a declaration can only be given at the German Embassy Windhoek. After that, a name change can be declared. Both parents have to agree to the name change. If the child is already 14 years old, it has to give an additional declaration of consent.
Please be advised: the name of a German child is primarily determined by German law. German law allows the current name of the mother or the father as a child’s last name.
If parents want a different name for the child (f.ex. a hyphenated name), they can decide before the 18th birthday of the child that its name should be governed by foreign law. Parents can choose the law by which the child’s name shall be determined and the specific chosen name in one declaration. A name chosen in accordance with foreign law does not extend to further children of these parents.
Is German Name Law always applicable?
In cases where one parent has another nationality, it may be possible to opt for this law to become applicable to the child’s name. The name will then be governed by the law of that parent’s nationality, so a double name may be possible if that law permits it (or indeed any other combination). However, you should bring documents showing that the name you would like to declare for your child is accepted by the foreign law. If the parents chose foreign law for the name of their child, the name declaration will be only valid for this child.
Which documents do I have to submit?
Applications must be handed in personally at the German Embassy Windhoek and only after booking an appointment through the following link: Online Appointment System
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All documents must be presented as an original and as a copy. Copies certified by German or Namibian authorities can replace the original.
Documents in other languages than in English or French must be handed in with a translation into German or English.
Please bring the following documents personally to your appointment:
- Filled out form „Name declaration for a minor“, not signed
Form: Name declaration for a minor PDF / 311 KB
- Birth certificate of the child (if born in Namibia „full birth certificate“/„registration of life birth“, issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs)
- Birth certificates of both parents (if born in Namibia: „full birth certificate“/„registration of life birth“, issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs)
- If applicable: De-registration of last residental address of the parents in Germany („Abmeldebescheinigung“)
- If applicable: Valid permanent residence card or valid Namibian visa of the German parent/s
- Valid passports of both parents (if current passport of German parent was issued after the birth of the child: German passport issued before the birth of the child)
- If child is older than 14 years: valid passport of child
- If parents are married: official marriage certificate
- If applicable: Proof of acknowledgment of paternity (if parents were not married at the time of birth of the child
- If applicable: Proof of dissolution of parents’ marriage or prior marriages of each parent (court decree or death certificate of former spouse)
- If a German parent was naturalized in Germany: certificate of naturalization
- If the German parent was naturalized in Namibia: Namibian certificate of naturalization + German „Beibehaltungsgenehmigung“ (Permission to retain former citizenship)
The fees for the service of the German Embassy need to be paid at the application in Namibian Dollar. The fees will be converted into Namibian Dollar according to the Exchange rate of the Embassy on that day. Payment can be done with cash or credit cards (Visa or MasterCard). List of fees.
The German Embassy Windhoek cannot influence the processing time through the Civil Registries in Germany in any way and cannot give any information on the status of the application.