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In principle, the parents are free to choose one or more first names for their children. However, in the end you may not be satisfied with the chosen first name. Do you want to change your first name or that of your child? Then you need to keep an eye on a number of important things. After all, a change of the first name is not “just” possible.

Ho fetola mabitso

First, you need a valid reason to change the first name, such as:

  • Adoption or naturalization. As a result, you may be ready for a fresh start in which you want to distance yourself from your past or after an integration program from your previous nationality trough a new first name.
  • Change of gender. In principle, this reason speaks for itself. After all, it is quite conceivable that your first name as a result no longer matches your person or gender and needs a change.
  • You may also want to distance yourself from your faith and therefore change your typical religious first name. Conversely, it is of course also possible that by taking a typical religious first name you want to strengthen the connection with your religion.
  • Bullying or discrimination. Finally, it is possible that your first name or that of your child, because of its spelling, causes bad associations or as unusual as it leads to plague rows.

In the cases mentioned, a different first name will of course offer a solution. In addition, a first name must not be inappropriate and contain swear words or be the same as an existing surname, unless this is also a normal first name.

Do you have a valid reason, and do you want to change your first name or that of your child? Then you need a lawyer. The lawyer will send a letter to the court on your behalf asking for a different first name. Such a letter is also known as an application. To this end, you must provide your lawyer with the necessary documents, such as a copy of the passport, an authentic copy of the birth certificate and the original BRP extract.

The procedure in court usually takes place in writing and you do not have to appear in court. However, a hearing is possible if, after reading the application, the judge needs more information to decide, an interested party, for example one of the parents, disagrees with the request or if the court sees another reason for this.

The court also usually delivers its decision in writing. The time between the application and the judgment is in practice about 1-2 months. If the court grants your request, the court will pass on the new first name to the municipality where you or your child are registered. After a positive decision by the court, the municipality usually has 8 weeks to change the first name in its municipal personal records database (GBA), before you can apply for a new identity document or driving license with the new name.

The court may also reach a different decision and reject your request if the court considers that there are insufficient reasons to change your first name or that of your child. In that case, you can appeal to the higher court within three months. If you also disagree with the decision of the court of appeal, within 3 months you can request the Supreme Court in cassation to annul the decision of the court of appeal. You must be assisted by a lawyer in both appellation and cassation.

Do you wish to change your first name or that of your child? Please contact Law & More. Ho Law & More we understand that a change can have many reasons and the reason varies per person. That is why we use a personal approach. Our lawyers can not only provide you with advice, but also help you with the application to change the first name or assist during legal proceedings.

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