Any Spanish citizen can change their surnames or the order of their surnames. Currently, this is a procedure that can be carried out either in person -at the Civil Registry Office of the person's domicile- or by post -conveniently registered at Civil Registry Office.
In this article, we will explain who can initiate the procedure and what the requirements are. We will also tell you the reasons why people usually apply to change their surnames in Spain.
Generally, the reasons for requesting a change of surname are related to errors in the official documents (DNI) or because one of them is to be preserved.
Who can change their surname?
Many people find themselves with surnames that they do not identify with or that they simply do not feel comfortable with. However, in Spain, anyone over 16 years of age -or under 16 years of age through their legal representatives-, can request a change of surname. This procedure is possible thanks to the Civil Registration Act 20/2011which entered into force on 30 April 2021.
Requirements for changing surnames
The change of surnames is regulated by law and certain general and indispensable requirements must be fulfilled in order for the Civil Registry to authorise the desired changes. Therefore, it is necessary that:
- The citizen wishing to make the change uses and is known by the surname he/she is applying for. Such use and knowledge must be real and not intentionally created in order to achieve the change.
- The desired surnames belong legitimately to the person concerned, i.e. they belong to both parental lines, one on the paternal side and one on the maternal side.
- This change does not entail any harm to third parties.
- There is a just cause.
However, there are certain cases stated in the Civil Registry rules, in which these requirements do not apply:
- The first requirement does not need to be fulfilled in the case of a surname that is contrary to decorum or could cause serious inconvenience or when there is a clear risk that a Spanish surname could disappear at national level (it is not relevant that the surname is lost within a family).
- These requirements need not be fulfilled in exceptional circumstances, in which case a special procedure would exist.
- Nor would it be necessary to accredit the general requirements where the applicant for the change has obtained some type of precautionary measure of judicial protection, has been a victim of gender violence, or in emergency situations that require it.
- In the case of EU citizens, the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union applies (Judgment of the CJEU of 2 October 2003 - García Abello and Judgment of the CJEU of 14 October 2008 - Grunkin Paul).
Change the order of surnames
The surname system dictates that a person will carry the first surname of the father first and the second surname of the mother first.. However, this rule can always be changed if it is mutually agreed between the parents and is done before the birth registration.
In this way, the child can be registered with the first surname of the mother and the first surname of the father in second place. However, it is important to note that the order agreed for the eldest child must also be applied for the registration of the following descendants, if any.
Similarly, as mentioned in the article, when the child has reached the age of 16, he/she can apply for the modifications he/she wishes:
- Change of surname: at the registry office of the applicant's place of residence.
- Change of the order of surnames: at the registry office of the domicile of either of the parties.
You can complete the information on this procedure in the following official link: https://www.mjusticia.gob.es/es/ciudadania/tramites/cambio-nombre-apellidos
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