Law on surnames (changing forenames or family names)
An application for a name change needs to be submitted to the court with the help of a lawyer. The application must provide good reasons. The new name applied for should not be improper and there should be sufficient compelling interests. A compelling personal interest, for instance, occurs in cases of adoption or after gender reassignment. In addition, there should not be any reasons of public interest that could be incompatible with a name change.
A name change won’t be official until allowed by the court and registered in the register of births.
Family name change
A surname or family name may be changed because there is a new family tie, after a divorce, for instance, or after adoption, recognition and paternity proceedings.
After the dissolution of a marriage or ending of a relationship, the child may get the name of the parent who cares for the child and raises it. If a parent raises the child together with a partner who is not the parent, the child may get the name of the partner. If a child is cared for and raised by foster parents, the child may get the name of one of the foster parents.
The new name giver must have taken care of the child and have raised it for a certain consecutive period of time immediately preceding the application. For children younger than twelve years, this is five years and for elder children, three years.
The application for a surname change should be submitted by the legal representative or representatives of the child.
An adult may also file an application for a surname change for him or herself in the following cases:
a child that is of age wants to change its surname into that of the other parent or caregiver;
an adult who had a name change when he or she was underage, wants to undo it;
if it concerns a non-Dutch surname;
if it concerns an improper or ridiculous surname;
if it concerns a surname that has been misspelled;
if a person wishes an addition of a surname that can be demonstrated to be a part of the family name when the register of births, deaths, marriages and registered partnerships was introduced;
if a person wishes the surname of the mother to be added if this name is extinct or threatens to become extinct;
if it concerns a Frisian name in the current Frisian spelling.
You may submit an application for a surname change yourself at the Justice Agency (dienst Justis) of the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice (Ministerie van Veiligheid en Justitie). Any further conditions can be found on the Ministry’s website, on www.dienstjustis.nl.