Changing birth name to become easier in France

A new law passed by France’s National Assembly allows for citizens to change their birth name to that of their other parent with less paperwork and hassle.

The National Assembly voted on the LREM-led bill on Thursday with 69 for, one against and two abstentions, making it a nearly unanimous decision.

This was the last bill to come before the deputies before the legislative break in the run up to the election period.

The one-time-only name change is for those who identify, for one reason or another, more with one parent than another. Keeper of the Seals, Eric Dupond-Moretti, for example, noted that the new law “resonates with his personal story”. His father died when he was a boy and he was raised by his mother. He wanted to honour her and so went through the process of changing his name to reflect both parents, hence Dupond-Moretti.

It was possible to change one’s name before, but the process was lengthy and complicated, forcing petitioners to go through the Ministry of Justice. It also wasn’t guaranteed to work. The rules were specific and included such things as wanting to preserve a rare surname from extinction, having a desire to “Frenchify” one’s name, wanting to change from a pejorative-sounding name, or not wanting to have the name of a discredited person were amongst the only valid reasons. 

Starting 1st July, it is possible for any adult to ask, one time, to take or add the name of their other parent with a simple town hall procedure and without having to formally justify the reasoning. The procedure, whilst simplified, does not allow for the person to change to any name simply because they fancy it, though. It is limited to the surname of their other parent only.

For sufferers of incest, abandonment, and other painful experiences, being able to “delete” the name of their torturer is a relief. It is also helpful for children who are the product of divorce, most of whom reside with their mothers but who bear their fathers’ names. The discrepancy of names has caused confusion and problems in cases of state admin, school registrations, medical procedures and travel.

Children will now be able to use their family name given at birth as well as a “user name”, that of the other parent. Today, eight out of 10 children in France bear the name of their father, though 21% live with their mother only.



Photo by Paige Cody on Unsplash