Change of name under Public Law

29.01.2020 - Article

The German law on names is comprehensively and fundamentally conclusively regulated by the provisions of the German Civil Code (BGB). The change of name under public law is of an exceptional nature and serves exclusively to eliminate unacceptable hardships in individual cases. It is not a suitable means of protecting the name bearer from any kind of inconvenience and difficulties that the use of a particular name may entail. For your application for a name change to be successful, there must be an important reason justifying the name change.

Under current law, a first name or family name may therefore only be changed if there is an important reason within the meaning of the Law on Name Changes that justifies it. According to case law, good cause exists if the applicant's interest in changing his or her name, the interests of other parties involved and the interests of the general public, which in principle demand the retention of the previous name, outweigh the interests worthy of protection. The public interest in the retention of the previous name is based on the social order function of the name and its function as an identifying feature.

An important reason for a change of name can be, for example, a change of name,

  • if the name sounds offensive or ridiculous
  • causes significant difficulties in spelling or pronunciation
  • for so-called collective names (e.g. Meyer, Müller, Schmidt)

In addition to the fully completed application form, please submit the following in original and two copies of each

  • current passport, for non-New Zealand residence permit (visa)
  • Proof of German nationality
  • Civil status documents ; birth certificate, marriage certificate etc. with apostille if necessary
  • Proof of income
  • Deregistration certificate from Germany or a current registration certificate from (last) German residence; if available

In principle, all foreign language documents must be translated into German. Please understand that, depending on the case constellation, it may be necessary to submit further documents in the course of the proceedings.

You can submit your application at the embassy or at an honorary consulate. You should make use of this for reasons of legal certainty. The application can also be submitted by post directly to the competent domestic authority.

The lowest administrative authority (usually the municipal/city administration or the district administration) is responsible.

1. the applicant's domicile or habitual residence

2. the last place of residence or habitual abode of the applicant,

3. the last habitual residence of the applicant's ancestors.

If you or one of your parents has never had a residence in Germany, please contact the embassy.

Processing time

The processing time depends on the competent domestic authority and varies from place to place. The embassy has no influence on this.


The fee for the authentication of the signatures on the application is € 56.43
If you declare your name at the same time, the fee is € 79.57 *

* All fees can be paid in cash, at the current exchange rate, in NZ $ or by credit card in euros (Visa or Mastercard).

Fees are also incurred at the relevant administrative authority in Germany. The fee for the change or determination of a family name is 2.50 to 1,022.- Euro, the fee for the change of a first name is 2.50 to 255.- Euro. If the application is rejected or withdrawn, 1/10 to 1/2 of this fee is charged. The costs of the procedure must be paid directly to the competent administrative authority. These cannot be processed via the German mission abroad (by bank transfer from New Zealand or via relatives/friends in Germany).

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