Many people, either because it appears in their official documents incorrectly, with the desire to preserve that of one of their parents or for any other reason, wonder how to change their last name. This is a real option and covered by Spanish law, but it has many nuances. Therefore, here we want to delve into the topic.
Changing last names: is it possible?
The answer is yes. In fact, anyone can proceed to change their surname as long as any of the following circumstances occur:
- That the subject requesting the change of surname be known by the one requesting before the Civil Registry. In no case may you have created it with the aim of achieving change.
- The change cannot result in the applicant’s two surnames belonging to a single ascending line if at the time of his birth he was recognized and registered by his maternal and paternal parent.
- The new surnames requested must legitimately belong to the person interested in the change.
- This change cannot entail a loss for third parties.
- That there is a just cause.
But, if you can change your last names even if you do not meet all these requirements, you should know that the regulations that regulate the Civil Registry contemplate a series of exceptions. These are:
- Gender-based violence: people who suffer it may change their surnames without the above requirements being met as long as there is some precautionary measure of a judicial nature or any other event of urgency.
- Surnames contrary to decorum: there are cases of surnames that may be offensive against the person who holds them or against third parties. If its use involves any serious inconvenience, it is not necessary to comply with the established requirements.
- Preservation of Spanish surnames: for this protection measure to be applied and the change in surname to take place, it is necessary to adequately justify the risk of disappearance.
- Spelling regularization: it is possible that, due to a failure of the parent or the person in charge of the Civil Registry who made the registration, there is a spelling defect in the surname. In this case, it can be easily changed to conform to the general linguistic standard.
How to change the last name?
The necessary procedure to change the surnames of a subject must begin at the headquarters of the Civil Registry that corresponds to the address in which the interested party is registered. In it, the change must be urged by filling in the relevant forms and citing the reasons that motivate the request.
Next, the person in charge of that headquarters of the Civil Registry will be the one who prepares the file. The only member of the Public Administration with authority to make the desired changes in the surnames is the Minister of Justice. However, by delegation, they can also be carried out by the General Directorate of Registries and Notaries.
Can the father’s and mother’s last name be changed?
As we said previously, any person who was registered with the surnames of two ascending lines (father and mother) must keep them during the change unless there is a special assumption contemplated by the rule such as that of gender violence. Therefore, the father’s or mother’s last name cannot be changed to a different one.
What you can do is change the order of the last names. Although, by tradition, the first surname of the father is usually placed before that of the mother, nowadays couples who have a child can do it in reverse. There is only one requirement: the agreed-upon order for the firstborn will be that of the couple’s next children, if any.
In addition, any person, upon reaching the age of majority, may request the reversal of said order before the Civil Registry with the aim of preserving the second place through their descendants. Therefore, if this is the problem that concerns you, you should know that you can change the last names without problem.
How to change the name?
Many people do not want to change their last names, but the name they have in the Civil Registry and in their official documents. As a general rule, this cannot be done. However, as in the previous case, there are exceptions that allow any subject to change it for another. Let’s see them:
- When the person is regularly and effectively known by a different name than the one that appears in the Civil Registry.
- When its name supposes an infraction of any established norm.
- When it comes to the translation of a name from another language and you want to normalize orthographically.
- When the subject undergoes a sex change intervention and proceeds to rectify the mention of sex in the Civil Registry.
- When the name supposes a phonetic or graphic adaptation of any language recognized as official within Spanish territory.
In addition, there are other causes that may lead to the consent of the Administration to proceed with the name change. For example, this happens when the subject’s name is considered humiliating or demeaning or when it matches their last names and can lead to error.
On the other hand, when choosing a new name, these aspects must also be taken into account:
- The new name cannot consist of more than two simple names (José María, for example) or one compound name (María del Carmen).
- Nor can it be the same as that of a living brother.
- It should not create confusion with the applicant’s surnames or be demeaning.
To finish answering the question about how to change the name, we must say that the procedure to be followed will be the same as we have previously commented. That is, the first thing will be to go to the headquarters of the Civil Registry that corresponds to the domicile of the interested party, fill out the relevant forms and plead the appropriate reasons and wait for the person in charge of the office to process it.
In short, both changing the surnames and the name of any person are not simple processes since they are considered as exceptions to the rule. However, if the prerequisites are met, they usually do not take too long.