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Old 27.11.2014, 14:12
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Foreign dad-to-be with double last name

Hi,
I've searched this everywhere without success.
My swiss wife and I (mexican) are having our first baby in February (yei! ). We got married in Switzerland a couple years ago and at marriage she kept her last name and were asked what last name the baby would have, to which we answered that mine. The reason she did not take my last name is because I have two last names, my father's & my mother's, and it was weird for her to take them both. Back home, it is the father's first last name and the mother's first last name that are given to a child at birth.

BabyName + FathersFirstLastName + MothersFirstLastName

We (irresponsibly) forgot about the issue and are now trying to figure out how to get the baby registered here in Switzerland to have only my first (father's) last name. If we fail to do so, then he will have my same two last names and when registered in my home country will then have those two and also my wife's. Then this whole name thing just starts getting out of hand...
Does anyone have a similar experience? People from Spain and Portugal also have double last names like me, I wonder what they have done when marrying a Swiss and having a child here?
I come from a double national family and have for years dealt with passports from two different name systems that my parents didn't think about solving, making my border crossing always full of questioning and stress. I'd like to avoid that as much as possible for my kid. Thanks in advance for your help!
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Old 27.11.2014, 14:45
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Re: Foreign dad-to-be with double last name

I was talking with a Portuguese friend about exactly this issue at the weekend; oh the confusion . However, since he grew up in Australia and his kids were born there, he just stuck with giving them a single family name i.e. his family (father's) name only. He said it was just so much simpler that way.
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Old 27.11.2014, 15:06
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Re: Foreign dad-to-be with double last name

I have a Spanish friend living in Italy and his children born there all got his double name. He was furious with the authorities but they told him, that's how it is.
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Old 27.11.2014, 17:26
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Re: Foreign dad-to-be with double last name

Congratulations! I think a similar question has been asked before. Maybe a few helpful links in one of these threads?

Baby Name Rules

Last name for baby
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Old 27.11.2014, 17:30
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Re: Foreign dad-to-be with double last name

We went through that earlier in the year, with my Portuguese hubby. He has 3 surnames!

First you must ask for a name simplification, which will allow you to have just one family name in CH (not valid in another country. Your passport won't change).

Then, and only then, your child will get only this one surname. Otherwise it'll be both, you won't have the choice.
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Old 27.11.2014, 17:51
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Re: Foreign dad-to-be with double last name

You know oddly enough in the UK you can give the baby any surname you wish? very odd!

I guess if your legal surname is one-two wouldn't it be odd if the baby is just baby one?
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Old 27.11.2014, 17:56
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Re: Foreign dad-to-be with double last name

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You know oddly enough in the UK you can give the baby any surname you wish? very odd!
... but a lot more sensible as this thread proves. It's just a name...
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Old 27.11.2014, 17:57
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Re: Foreign dad-to-be with double last name

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You know oddly enough in the UK you can give the baby any surname you wish? very odd!

I guess if your legal surname is one-two wouldn't it be odd if the baby is just baby one?
In Portugal too. Actually my kids don't have the same surnames in their Swiss and Portuguese passports!
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Old 27.11.2014, 21:46
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Re: Foreign dad-to-be with double last name

Actually I'm quite curious about these answers.

Being Portuguese, both me and my wife have various family names. I have 4 family names and my wife has 2 (let's ignore the particles (de), or I would have 6 family names).

We had no problem in giving our daughter only my last family name and my wife's last name. It was asked in the hospital how we wished, received a letter from the Registration Office of Winterhur to confirm it was like we have written, and that was it.

Just as a curiosity, in Portuguese countries, as opposed to Spanish speaking countries, the name is usually <Given name(s)>+<Mother's family name(s)>+<Father family name(s)>.

It's assumed, unless otherwise noted, that a Portuguese short name is <First given name>+<Last family name>, though there are no fixed rules.

We tend to have problems with my wife's name, as she did not adopt mine, so it's automatically assumed by Swiss institutions that my family name is actually her mother's family name... Very confusing when you're trying to find your pregnant wife about to be mother in the hospital.
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Old 27.11.2014, 22:57
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Re: Foreign dad-to-be with double last name

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Actually I'm quite curious about these answers.

Being Portuguese, both me and my wife have various family names. I have 4 family names and my wife has 2 (let's ignore the particles (de), or I would have 6 family names).

We had no problem in giving our daughter only my last family name and my wife's last name. It was asked in the hospital how we wished, received a letter from the Registration Office of Winterhur to confirm it was like we have written, and that was it.

Just as a curiosity, in Portuguese countries, as opposed to Spanish speaking countries, the name is usually <Given name(s)>+<Mother's family name(s)>+<Father family name(s)>.

It's assumed, unless otherwise noted, that a Portuguese short name is <First given name>+<Last family name>, though there are no fixed rules.

We tend to have problems with my wife's name, as she did not adopt mine, so it's automatically assumed by Swiss institutions that my family name is actually her mother's family name... Very confusing when you're trying to find your pregnant wife about to be mother in the hospital.
Just about everyone in my family goes by their second first name. I wonder why they bothered to give them the first first name!

Both of you are foreign so you can use the customs of your home country(ies) to name your child. The problem the OP will have is his wife and subsequently the child too are Swiss. Swiss rules apply. He will have a difficult time trying to do what he wants with the child's name.


I have three family name by birth and one more by marriage. 3 was already more than enough! My cousin has an "e" which I was always jealous of! I have no articles.

The habit of people in French and Spanish speaking countries (don't know about German?) automatically using my first first name and my first last name drives me crazy! I use my second first name and obviously(!) my last last name. Using the last last name just seems more logical... after all it is the, um.... LAST one!
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Old 14.12.2014, 11:38
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Re: Foreign dad-to-be with double last name

Thank you all for your helpful replies!

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We went through that earlier in the year, with my Portuguese hubby. He has 3 surnames!

First you must ask for a name simplification, which will allow you to have just one family name in CH (not valid in another country. Your passport won't change).

Then, and only then, your child will get only this one surname. Otherwise it'll be both, you won't have the choice.
Mélusine, thanks for the info. We have since then found the documents from the Gemeindeamt and are trying to get this done before the baby due date. Do you remember if you had to translate to german all your husband's documents (i.e. birth certificate)? If so, could you recommend where to do this?

I will keep everyone posted on the process and results. Thanks again!
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Old 01.04.2015, 19:07
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Re: Foreign dad-to-be with double last name

Hi everyone!
Just wanted to let you know how it went, in case anyone is ever in the same situation.
I never got a reply to any of my emails and I actually got hung up on by the Gemeindeamt. So I finally decided to go there myself accompanied by a Swiss German friend. This was the key to my success. I discovered that most people there only speak Swiss German and a little bit of English. I later went with my wife (native French speaker) and we had to do with our little German. So having a translator there made things very easy. The staff was actually super nice and helpful. They looked up my STAR (?) number for me and accepted a document that was older than 3 (or was it 6) months old.
So, you need:
- documents (family book, marriage certificate and KreisBuro attestation for your domicile) that are recent (again, can't remember if it's less than 3 or 6 months)
- to write a very polite letter (in german) that says the reasons you want to change your name and what happens if it doesn't change
- pay 600CHF

I had my "new" name document in a matter of weeks.
Hope this is helpful for anyone else.
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Old 01.04.2015, 19:42
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Re: Foreign dad-to-be with double last name

If they keep that up, they may have to use compression algorithms on those names.

Enr7 Ram9 Apo8-Car12 = Enrique Ramouldes Apostoles-Carravangelo
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