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Old 04.07.2015, 00:18
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Changing name before applying for passport

Hello,
I will soon clock 12 years in CH and since I have lived that long here, I plan to become a citizen of this lovely country. I wanted to change my surname for some time (there is a valid reason, but not marriage-related) and reading about the swiss attitude to name changing (tough), I figured it will be easier to change it now in my country and file for swiss passport with the new name...

Does anyone have an experience with going into the passport ordeal with a fresh surname? Is this something that may complicate the process of naturalization greatly or can Swiss authorities all together disregard my new name and use the one I have lived with in CH for all these years?..

thanks in advance for all kind assistance in this delicate matter
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Old 04.07.2015, 01:21
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Re: Changing name before applying for passport

When I applied for naturalisation in Vaud, they offered me a 'reduced price name change' for CHF200 as an optional extra, which would have been done as part of the naturalisation procedure.
You should ask if this is also the case in Geneva.
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Old 04.07.2015, 08:29
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Re: Changing name before applying for passport

On the whole it ought to be easier in your own country to execute a legal name change. It will depend on your home country. It is best to do it there and then for that country to issue you with new ID/passport etc. The name change will then be recorded by the authorities here, - they issue you with an updated B- or C-permit.

Naturalisation can take a long time, years in some cases. So it also depends on how quickly you want to start utilizing your new legal name for everyday situations - employment, medical card/Krankenkasse, banking, credit cards, phone, utility bills, name on mailbox etc.

I removed a middle name and changed my surname, was issued with a new passport and then requested that the change be put into the system here and my C-permit be updated accordingly.
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Old 04.07.2015, 12:49
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Re: Changing name before applying for passport

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On the whole it ought to be easier in your own country to execute a legal name change. It will depend on your home country...
Given the time it's taking Geneva to process naturalization applications, I'd second this advice. You'll have to change your home country documents at some point anyway, so it makes more sense to do that first.
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Old 10.07.2015, 11:53
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Re: Changing name before applying for passport

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Given the time it's taking Geneva to process naturalization applications, I'd second this advice. You'll have to change your home country documents at some point anyway, so it makes more sense to do that first.
Unless you have severed most/all ties with your home country. If the name change went through via the naturalization process here, then your home country may not have any knowledge of it. Particularly if the only real contact you have with your country is once every 10 or 20 years for passport renewal!

Potentially in Switzerland you could be Swiss and known under your new name, legally. However in your home country you could be still known under your previous name and also legally renew your passport and maintain your citizenship (if allowed) under the old name. Raising thereby the question of 1 person having 2 identities!
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Old 11.07.2015, 12:31
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Re: Changing name before applying for passport

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Unless you have severed most/all ties with your home country. If the name change went through via the naturalization process here, then your home country may not have any knowledge of it. Particularly if the only real contact you have with your country is once every 10 or 20 years for passport renewal!

Potentially in Switzerland you could be Swiss and known under your new name, legally. However in your home country you could be still known under your previous name and also legally renew your passport and maintain your citizenship (if allowed) under the old name. Raising thereby the question of 1 person having 2 identities!
hm, this is an interesting situation indeed. Is anyone aware if this is even possible?

Chomp - have there been any conditions on the price name change? Ie - were you free to choose whatever you wanted or it had to be one of your partner, relatives, etc? I will definitely stop by OCP in Geneva to get an insight into the possibilities as this would be easier to execute if they provide the freedom...
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Old 12.07.2015, 15:51
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Re: Changing name before applying for passport

They said that the name change is ideally done to help in your future integration, so most of the examples given related to people changing a Spanish spelling to a French spelling etc. I think they're more liberal with surnames than with first names because they said that first names will only be wholly changed or deleted if the name is offensive, ridiculous, or impronounceable.
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Old 14.07.2015, 08:39
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Re: Changing name before applying for passport

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They said that the name change is ideally done to help in your future integration, so most of the examples given related to people changing a Spanish spelling to a French spelling etc. I think they're more liberal with surnames than with first names because they said that first names will only be wholly changed or deleted if the name is offensive, ridiculous, or impronounceable.
Backing up the route 'get it changed in your home country', this way you will be able to change it to exactly what you want/require as soon as possible and get your new passport issued, that's if your home country allows complete name changes and lets you change it to anything you desire. It is your name and you have it and will use it presumably for the rest of your life (barring any future changes)!

The Swiss authorities, like some other European countries, are very restrictive on name changes for Swiss passport holders, it's pricey, you have to have a valid reason (not just because you want to), it's complicated and very difficult to get even a small name change if any at all where forenames are concerned.

Changing your name abroad means basically the Swiss authorities have to then accept your name change and accordingly will reissue your permit with the new name (the permit number does not change) since they can't dictate to a foreigner what he or she can/can't have as a name.

If you are EU/EFTA with the booklet style permit, you need a new photo for the permit change.

The reissued permit contains no reference to the previous name(s).
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Old 14.07.2015, 10:53
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Re: Changing name before applying for passport

Changing your surname in Switzerland is nearly impossible. Changing your given name is a "bit" simpler. But it involves a period where you are using your new name unofficially but formally (or is it officially but informal?). You tell all your friends, employer, sports club, utility services etc. etc. that from now on you are known as Ueli instead of Williams and should be addressed as such. Then after a few years you collect all this evidence of established usage an request an official name change.
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Old 12.10.2015, 00:18
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Re: Changing name before applying for passport

Hi all,
just wanted to close this loop by updating on the subject for someone's else future reference.

At least in Geneva, the process is to go to Etat Civil and submit a form for a change of the name. You pay CHF 600 for a surname change and CHF 300 for a name change. If you are already registered in Etat Civil (either you have kids or were married/divorced or for whatever other reason), you are already in the Swiss database under your current name. From here on you would have to have a really super good reason to change your name. My gut feel from the conversation was that it's close to impossible unless you want to switch back to your maiden name or to your mother's name, etc. You basically must have the new surname in your family somewhere. Otherwise good luck. The clerk told me that there was a case currently with someone who's applied and it's been under consideration for more than 1 year already.

Oh, btw, your fees won't be reimbursed if the answer is 'no'...

So, it's good to check with your country of origin on the fees and time involved instead. But one thing is sure: this has to be done prior to applying for a passport otherwise you are closing the door to your new name forever.
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Old 12.10.2015, 10:53
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Re: Changing name before applying for passport

I agree. It definitely depends on the home country. In most cases the procedure is going to cost a fraction of what the Swiss charge. In some cases the procedure is going to more straightforward and quicker.
My name changes took around a week, was completed by post and cost less than a tenth of the cost the Swiss would have charged me.
The slow part was getting the Swiss to accept and reissue the C-permit.

But are you maintaining your other nationality? If you/a foreigner changes your/their name, going through the Swiss authorities (which is extremely slow, bureaucratic and expensive) whilst taking out Swiss citizenship, your home country may not come to know about it and you will still be known by your previous name(s) in your home country...
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Old 12.10.2015, 11:10
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Re: Changing name before applying for passport

Must say I've never heard of changing name by 'deed poll' in Switzerland. Does anyone have a link about this by any chance?

A word of warning. A UK friend of mine, who lived in France, died in a tragic accident 2 years ago in the Alps. I helped her daughter from NZ with all the police, paperwork, funeral, etc. The lady had paperwork in 3 different names, her maiden name (bith cert), her married name and the name she later chose by deed poll- and none of it was connected. As this does not exist in France, it turned out to be a nightmare as we could not get permission to cremate her and for the ashes to be taken to NZ- as we could not find the deed poll papers anywhere. One of her grandsons from the UK eventually found it- but by then it was a bank holiday week-end. So word of warning- make sure relevant next of kin and relatives have copies... It was horrific enough without having to deal with this.

Just don't know what we would have done had the deed poll change had not finally been found?!
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Old 12.10.2015, 11:38
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Re: Changing name before applying for passport

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Must say I've never heard of changing name by 'deed poll' in Switzerland. Does anyone have a link about this by any chance?

A word of warning. A UK friend of mine, who lived in France, died in a tragic accident 2 years ago in the Alps. I helped her daughter from NZ with all the police, paperwork, funeral, etc. The lady had paperwork in 3 different names, her maiden name (bith cert), her married name and the name she later chose by deed poll- and none of it was connected. As this does not exist in France, it turned out to be a nightmare as we could not get permission to cremate her and for the ashes to be taken to NZ- as we could not find the deed poll papers anywhere. One of her grandsons from the UK eventually found it- but by then it was a bank holiday week-end. So word of warning- make sure relevant next of kin and relatives have copies... It was horrific enough without having to deal with this.
This is good advice.

If a name is changed by deed pole, it won't ordinarily have an effect on what is recorded in birth records or on one's birth certificate (simple or full version) since at the time of registering the birth the name was then correct.
The only document I now have with my old names, is in fact my birth certificate.

I changed my names (removed a middle name and changed surname) by deed pole in home country, then notified Switzerland of the change. The change was for personal reasons, involved the removal of a middle name and the change was not through marriage, so it was really frowned upon by the Swiss but had to be accepted, the Migrationsamt and/or Gemeinde basically have no choice but to update the name(s). Once the name change has gone through, the old name is no longer in the Gemeinde's records, as I specifically asked about this. If I am looked up with the previous surname (even by officials) it comes up as nobody of that name ever having been registered there as they literally overwrite the record.

You then have to inform employer, pension scheme (state and private), bank, health insurance, doctor etc. of the change yourself - the Gemeinde/Migrationsamt won't do any of this automatically (though they do inform the tax office - as the forms came through with the new name).

For mail, I didn't want the old name on the mailbox (for others it might not be a problem to have 2 or more names (or old/maiden names) on there) so I removed the old surname from the mailbox and put the new one on there, however the post office offers an option (for a small annual fee) to have the mail with the old surname redirected (albeit to the same address) to the mailbox with the new surname.

This is known as a subaddress.
https://www.post.ch/en/private/recei...ion/subaddress

I took this option out for a time to give myself a chance to update anyone I still needed to regarding the name change. The good thing about it was that it was a chance to get rid of so much junk mail as I didn't inform any of the junk mail senders of the name change. Once the subaddress service expires (a bit like a mail redirection order) the post office no longer delivers mail addressed to the old surname, so all of this now goes back to the sender (at their cost) marked as 'addressee unknown'!

I don't think one can change one's name(s) by deed pole in Switzerland. For Swiss citizens it is extremely difficult to get a name change accepted if not through marriage. Which is why if anyone is thinking of naturalizing, it is probably always best to get the name change done and dusted abroad before even applying.
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Old 12.10.2015, 11:45
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Re: Changing name before applying for passport

All that just to avoid Billag.
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Old 12.10.2015, 11:50
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Re: Changing name before applying for passport

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All that just to avoid Billag.
Funny!! No, I think Billag may get current names and addresses from Gemeinde anyhow, so if they do ever check our area I could eventually get something from them!

The name change was most definitely for other reasons!!
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Old 12.10.2015, 12:33
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Re: Changing name before applying for passport

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Must say I've never heard of changing name by 'deed poll' in Switzerland. Does anyone have a link about this by any chance?

A word of warning. A UK friend of mine, who lived in France, died in a tragic accident 2 years ago in the Alps. I helped her daughter from NZ with all the police, paperwork, funeral, etc. The lady had paperwork in 3 different names, her maiden name (bith cert), her married name and the name she later chose by deed poll- and none of it was connected. As this does not exist in France, it turned out to be a nightmare as we could not get permission to cremate her and for the ashes to be taken to NZ- as we could not find the deed poll papers anywhere. One of her grandsons from the UK eventually found it- but by then it was a bank holiday week-end. So word of warning- make sure relevant next of kin and relatives have copies... It was horrific enough without having to deal with this.

Just don't know what we would have done had the deed poll change had not finally been found?!
It's certainly possible to have a power of attorney covering medical matters in UK, this would be a fairly easy solution.
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