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The procedures for name and surname changes with the new Civil Registry Law in Spain

On April 30, 2021, after being delayed for several years in a row, the new Civil Registry Law finally came into force, which was promulgated in 2011. 

Through this new regulation, a new model is adopted that is more closely adjusted to the values established in the 1978 Constitution as well as to the current reality of our society, in which the Civil Registry has taken on greater importance and assumed various roles that were previously the competence of the Ministry of Justice.

We must bear in mind that the previous Civil Registry regulations dated from 1957, so the change and modernization of the system and articles of the Law were necessary even more given the evolution of our society and current needs.

In this article we focus ourselves in give response to the main questions that this New Law raises.

In our article of the Blog titled "The change of name and surname from the 30th of april of 2021 and the entry into force of the law 20/2011" we already explained some insights of the existing differences between the old regulation and the one that is in force now.



When is the new Civil Registry Law applied in the name and surname change procedure?

In accordance with the provisions of the First Transitory Provision of the Law 20/2011 of July 21 (Disposición Transitoria Primera de la Ley 20/2011 de 21 de julio), the procedures and files that were in process at the time this Law came into force, the Law of June 8, 1957 and its provisions dictated in its development. Consequently, we have to take into account the moment in which the file of the name change / surname change was initiated to see which Law is applicable.
As commented, this new Law has supposed a little step forward to facilitate the procedures, as well as the requirements have been lowered. This changes can be observed, a part from the articles of the norm, in the Preamble V (Preámbulo V) of the Law and that we reproduce hereinafter(translated from the Spanish original):

    “The name and surname are configured as an element of identity of the born derived from the right of personality and as such it is incorporated into the birth registration. In     order to advance gender equality, the historical prevalence of the paternal surname over the maternal one is dispensed with, allowing both parents to decide the order of the surnames. Likewise, the procedure for changing names and surnames is     systematized and streamlined and is submitted, as a general rule, to the jurisdiction of the Civil Registry Manager. Regarding filiation, all reference to non-matrimonial is eliminated, with full equality to matrimonial.”

Likewise, a part from the prior legal developments, there is another highlight that is in respect of the birth registration of the new-born, which is being implemented and that the Law provides the remission of the data of the new-born, via an official document filled in the Hospital and reviewed by the health/sanitary officials. This means, that from April 2021 onwards, the Hospitals can enable the service that lets the new-born parents to register their child in the Hospital, the signed document will afterwards be sent to the corresponding Registry. This is optional for the parents to choose, so they are the ones that can decide which formula they want to register their new-born. It should be added that this procedure is not yet carried out by all Health Centres in the country, but it is in some of them.


New legal developments in the name and surname change procedures introduced through the Law 20/2011 of 21st of July


Name change
According to current regulations, name changes will be accepted as long as the habitual use of the new requested name is accredited (article 52 of Law 20/2011) and the circumstances of each specific case are proofed.


Surname change

With the new Law in force, there exist two different proceedings depending on the change that is being requested.

The following procedures of surname change will be processed before the Judge in Charge of the Civil Registry:

- Reversal of the family names (surnames)
- To indicate the preposition "de" to the first surname or conjunctions "y" or "i"
- Preservation of the surnames after a rectified filiation
- Orthographic regulation of the surnames

In all other cases of change of surnames, the corresponding change file will be instructed, in which compliance with certain requirements and, especially, those indicated in article 54.2 of the aforementioned Law must be accredited (translation from the Spanish article):

a) That the surname in the proposed form constitutes a factual situation, being habitually used by the interested party.
b) That the surname or surnames that are being linked or modified belong legitimately to the petitioner.
c) That the surnames that result from the change do not come from the same line

The concurrence of some of these requirements will not be necessary depending on exceptional circumstances, authorizing the change of surnames when such extraordinary situations can be proven or even urgency/security reasons for the total change of identity without complying with any of the previous requirements in the section 2 of the latter article.


Surnames with foreign elements

In the cases of people that acquired the Spanish nationality, we have to observe and study each case in particular, because there will be different factors to take into account, such as the country of origin, whether it is European or external from the EU, as well as the existence of the Conventions/Agreements that are signed between the country of origin and Spain.


Foreign surnames with a termination/ending that distinguishes between feminine and masculine forms

In those cases in which a surname of foreign origin admits variants depending on whether it is a male or female family name, it may be requested that the corresponding form to be recorded in the Birth Registration as long as the existence of said variants and also, by virtue of the testimony of the corresponding Spanish Consul.


If you have any questions about the possibility of changing your name and/or surname, contact one of our professionals specialized in this matter through our online legal consultations service on our website, or through the videoconference service, or, by making an appointment in our office.

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