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Old 21.06.2010, 18:21
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My name is not my name... according to the authorities

I just found out that the authorities have changed my name a couple of years ago without telling me.

According to my passport, my "name" is John Smith. However, apparently, unlike most passports, it doesn't differentiate between family name and first name. As "name" means family name in Switzerland, the authorities have therefore assumed that my family name is "John Smith".

To make matters worse, they must put an entry into the Vorname section in their computers. So they have put in John Smith again. Good move as now my name is John Smith John Smith.

I found this out because the land registry asked me to sign something and they put my name down as John Smith John Smith. When I asked them to change it to John Smith, they told me that they need to see a confirmation from the authorities that I have changed my name to John Smith.

So I called the authorities and that was what they told me. My "name" according to my passport is John Smith. "Name" is defined as "family name". That's it. Nothing they can do about it.

This could be a huge problem because this change happened only a couple of years ago and until then I have been using my correct name. So now my house is not my house as it belongs to John Smith. I am not my wife's husband (she is married to John Smith, not John Smith John Smith). I am not my kids father. Those documents I signed at work are probably not legal, etc. etc....

The local gemeinde told me that they have some women with the same problem, but as they are married to Swiss men and have taken their husbands name, it hasn't been an issue.

They will call me back with maybe a solution, but already told me that there is probably nothing they can do about it...

Does anyone else have the same problem? Do I need to go to Bern or get a lawyer?
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Old 21.06.2010, 18:25
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Re: My name is not my name... according to the authorities

The possible implications of that are quite scary, even seeing the funny side. Is it possible to change one's name by Deed Poll over here, as it is in the UK (apparently over there it is quite a simple process)? Good luck anyway!
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Old 21.06.2010, 18:27
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Re: My name is not my name... according to the authorities

What is the name on your Ausweiss?
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Old 21.06.2010, 18:30
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Re: My name is not my name... according to the authorities

what idiots! Could have been the best April fool's thread, but I totally feel for you as my dad had a similar problem back home so they stopped paying his retirement money.
Good luck!
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Old 21.06.2010, 18:30
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Re: My name is not my name... according to the authorities

I have the fun situation of having a ü in my name (or ue) on swiss documents, where in Canada just a u (no umlaut or e).

No issues yet, but it's definitely going to come back to haunt me at some point.
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Old 21.06.2010, 18:31
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Re: My name is not my name... according to the authorities

Living with exactly the same problem since 1.5 years here in Switzerland!
The mistake was in my original passport, where both first name and family name were entered under "Name". So, I have a double name now.

Haven't had a problem so far with anything legal yet so far (knocks on wood)
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Old 21.06.2010, 18:43
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Re: My name is not my name... according to the authorities

My C ausweiss says:

Name:
John Smith
John Smith

Should be:
Smith
John

I never noticed that it is a mistake until recently. I mean, it is such a ridiculous thing that I didn't even realize that it is a mistake. Just noticed right now that on my income tax documents my name is John Smith John Smith.

What I don't understand is that they simply put in John Smith as my vorname because their computer system demands a vorname, but then they say according to the rules they must follow, they must have my family name as "John Smith". Eh? So they must follow THAT rule, but they then arbitrarily put in John Smith as my vorname even though with their way of interpreting my name in my passport, I do not have a vorname.
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Old 21.06.2010, 18:54
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Re: My name is not my name... according to the authorities

Do lot of expenses under that incorrect name

It's not you, then it's fine.

(better doing them when you plan to leave the country)

Administrations people are so stupid, thats astoning.
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  #9  
Old 21.06.2010, 19:00
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Re: My name is not my name... according to the authorities

I have a similar problem except it's not as bad as yours. Swiss records don't recognize middle names so instead of being

John / Doe / Smith

I'm

John Doe / Smith

Both my Ausländerausweis and my AHV-IV card say that I'm Smith (family name) and John Doe (first names). Even at work I was known in the beginning as John Doe but put everyone straight before being called that on a regular basis.
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Old 21.06.2010, 19:01
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Re: My name is not my name... according to the authorities

My dad had a "similar" problem back in Mexico, maybe there is such a solution here.

He was in University, all his life he knew he was born on july 4th. Turns out that his parents, registered him ate and to avoid paying the fine they put his DOB in October.

When he wanted to graduate they went through his papers. Basically he was also the wrong person, to solve it he had to take witness to testify that he was indeed the same guy and his University papers could be liberated.

Perhaps there is this thing here to correct the mistake ?

I would say straighten this up ASAP
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Old 21.06.2010, 19:17
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Re: My name is not my name... according to the authorities

Ouch. I used to be (mildly) perturbed because the US authorities mistakenly added a space to my name on my passport (Mc Grath instead of McGrath) and all my Swiss papers are therefore misspelled, in addition to having "First name Middle name" as my first name... but man, reading your story, I'm glad that's the worst I got.

Best advice I can give is try to speak to your Gemeinde again, but with someone different - someone somewhere will understand that it's a clerical error and advise you on how to get it corrected, though I would expect it to take some months before you get the new paperwork.
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Old 21.06.2010, 19:36
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Re: My name is not my name... according to the authorities

I agree with Corbets

You should not need to change your name from the wrong "John Smith John Smith", to just "John Smith" because you never changed it in the first place.

Provide the authorities with evidence showing your name is "John Smith", that goes back to before the clerical error, and point out to them that the mistake was done by them, and therefore they should correct it.

If you can show evidence - of any form, such as bills, letters, etc - addresses to your normal name, and back it up with birth certificate, etc etc when staking your claim, then your job will be easier.
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Old 21.06.2010, 19:50
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Re: My name is not my name... according to the authorities

This is not a clerical error. Apparently a couple of years ago some EU-related law came into force which they have to follow. And according to the law, name=family name. According to my passport my name is John Doe Smith. So according to this law, my family name is John Doe Smith.

Yes, vwild1, it is actually worse... I didn't mention my middle name in my first post to keep it simple, but I actually do have a middle name. So now my name is John Doe Smith John Doe Smith.

I have actually opened a can of worms when I spoke to my Gemeinde because now they realize that they have to change my wife's name to Jane John Doe Smith and my children's name to Mary Elizabeth John Doe Smith and Tom Jack John Doe Smith.

Wonderful.
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Old 21.06.2010, 19:52
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Re: My name is not my name... according to the authorities

I’ve got a sort-of similar problem because I go by my middle name, not my first name. Everybody has called me by my middle name, all my life. So I’m (John) Doe Smith. My work userid uses it, my credit cards use it, ... The gemeinde and the federal government use my full name, but nobody else.

Everything was well and good until about three months ago, where somewhere in the swiss bureaucracy my name changed…

According to my bank I am now Doe John Smith, and according to my health insurance I am now Smith John, Doe.

Using a middle name is great. If someone rings up and asks for you by your first name, then it’s obvious that they don’t know you…
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Old 21.06.2010, 19:58
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Re: My name is not my name... according to the authorities

It is probably worth asking the Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner for advice as it is a Federal (Passport) error.
http://www.edoeb.admin.ch/kontakt/index.html?lang=en
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Old 21.06.2010, 20:08
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Re: My name is not my name... according to the authorities

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I just found out that the authorities have changed my name a couple of years ago without telling me.

According to my passport, my "name" is John Smith. However, apparently, unlike most passports, it doesn't differentiate between family name and first name. As "name" means family name in Switzerland, the authorities have therefore assumed that my family name is "John Smith".

To make matters worse, they must put an entry into the Vorname section in their computers. So they have put in John Smith again. Good move as now my name is John Smith John Smith.

I found this out because the land registry asked me to sign something and they put my name down as John Smith John Smith. When I asked them to change it to John Smith, they told me that they need to see a confirmation from the authorities that I have changed my name to John Smith.

So I called the authorities and that was what they told me. My "name" according to my passport is John Smith. "Name" is defined as "family name". That's it. Nothing they can do about it.

This could be a huge problem because this change happened only a couple of years ago and until then I have been using my correct name. So now my house is not my house as it belongs to John Smith. I am not my wife's husband (she is married to John Smith, not John Smith John Smith). I am not my kids father. Those documents I signed at work are probably not legal, etc. etc....

The local gemeinde told me that they have some women with the same problem, but as they are married to Swiss men and have taken their husbands name, it hasn't been an issue.

They will call me back with maybe a solution, but already told me that there is probably nothing they can do about it...

Does anyone else have the same problem? Do I need to go to Bern or get a lawyer?
that is hilarious. i would see a tax advisor and see what potential loopholes you can exploit!
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Old 21.06.2010, 20:09
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Re: My name is not my name... according to the authorities

How about just being done with your boring name, let Madonna or Angelina adopt you and see what appears in your new passport? Try and look cute and starving the next time a celebrity appears....
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Old 21.06.2010, 20:12
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Re: My name is not my name... according to the authorities

I would suggest that you contact your embassy and discuss the matter with them. It is very likely that they will have experience of similar situations and know who to deal with it.

Good luck with that,

Jim
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Old 21.06.2010, 20:20
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Re: My name is not my name... according to the authorities

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I would suggest that you contact your embassy and discuss the matter with them. It is very likely that they will have experience of similar situations and know who to deal with it.

Good luck with that,

Jim
Yep, calling them first thing in the morning.
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Old 21.06.2010, 20:56
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Re: My name is not my name... according to the authorities

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I have actually opened a can of worms when I spoke to my Gemeinde because now they realize that they have to change my wife's name to Jane John Doe Smith and my children's name to Mary Elizabeth John Doe Smith and Tom Jack John Doe Smith.
The sad part is they'll probably insist on changing everyones name first rather than admitting their mistake and simply changing yours!
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