Dutch review of family name rules: even 10 surnames possible


Western Europe

Marc Derœux, CNE.news

Photo ANP, Robin Utrecht

Not just one parent, but both parents in the Netherlands should be allowed to give their children their parents' surname. The number of surnames can even grow to ten. Last Tuesday, the Dutch government sent a bill to the Parliament to regulate this.

If the bill is passed, the child can be given the name of one or both parents, Dutch newspaper Reformatorisch Dagblad writes. Adopted children will be able to adopt the name of (one of) their adoptive parents in addition to the name they were given at birth.

This bill is not an initiative from the new coalition. It is a plan tabled by the caretaker government of Prime Minister Rutte.

According to the Ministry of Justice and Security, the new law will make it possible to express the bond with both parents in the surname. The so-called "combined surname" is written without a hyphen. Until now, the hyphen was usual for married women, to use first the “married name”, and then the “girl’s name” after a hyphen. Mrs De Vries-Willems was born in the Willems family and married to Mr De Vries.

The order in which the child's surname is written is up to the parents. This applies only to the first child. Children born afterwards will automatically receive the same last name as the first. This rule does not apply to adopted children.

Ten possibilities

The Ministry gives several examples of the new names. If the parents are called "De Vries" and "Willems", they will have four options. They can call their child De Vries or Willems, or De Vries Willems or Willems de Vries. If someone with a combined surname, such as Willems de Vries, has children with a partner who also has a combined name, it is even possible to have ten surnames for those children.

To prevent the names from becoming too long, people named after both parents who will have a child of their own can only pass on two names at the most. This also applies to adopted children. There is an exception for people who already have multiple surnames. These can be passed on in full.

Not compulsory

The possibility of giving a combined surname was a wish of the Lower House, not of justice minister Dekker. Since research showed that 32 per cent of the parents would still like such a measure, minister Dekker came up with the bill after all.

The choice of a double surname is not compulsory. If parents do not choose, the child will receive the surname of the father or mother in case of marriage. In the case of unmarried partners, the child automatically gets the mother's name.



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