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Family – A legitimate reason allows you to change your first name – News

Considerably simplified and free, this procedure, still unknown, is accessible to all. Provided you have a legitimate interest.

Just as it will be possible from 1er July to easily change the family name to take that of the parent who has not passed on his, without having to obtain authorization by decree, it is already possible to change the first name. It is thus possible to modify it, to delete it, to add another first name or to modify the order of its first names when there are several, without resorting to justice as was the case before. Decryption of this procedure.

Who is concerned ?

Anyone who wants it. For minors, it is the parents or the legal representative who must carry out this procedure. If the child is over 13, however, he must give his written consent. From 1er July 2022, adults under guardianship who wish to change their first name will be able to carry out this process alone, without representation from their guardian.

What are the cases of legitimate interest?

The circular issued pursuant to Law 2016-1547 gives various examples “showing the existence of a legitimate interest in the change of first name” :

  • prolonged use by third parties (family, employers, colleagues, etc.) of a first name other than the original one appearing in the civil status;
  • the desire to Frenchify a foreign-sounding first name when it thwarts the applicant’s professional integration or assimilation into French society;
  • the wish to delete a first name (or a combination of first names) deemed ridiculous, pejorative, coarse or complex;
  • the desire to add or remove a dash between two first names;
  • for transgender people the desire to match their marital status with their physical appearance, independently of a sex change procedure.

How to do it ?

It is necessary to go personally to the town hall of his place of residence or the place where the birth certificate was drawn up, to file his request with a civil status officer. This allows the civil registrar to verify the identity of the person concerned and, if necessary, to ensure the consent of the minor over 13 years of age. A receipt for the filing of the application must be submitted.

Should I be assisted by a lawyer?

Contrary to what prevailed in the past, this is no longer necessary. In addition, this process is not eligible for legal aid, accessible to people with low incomes.

What supporting documents to provide?

Depending on the situation (adult, request made on behalf of a child, etc.), different forms must be completed (Appendices 4 to 7 of the circular). A certain number of official supporting documents (original full copy of the birth certificate dated less than 3 months, identity document, proof of residence, etc.) must be attached to the request, as well as “Documents to justify the legitimate interest in the requested change”. The application circular again gives a few examples: documents relating to childhood or schooling (birth bracelet, health record, copy of school reports, etc.), personal life (attestations from relatives, etc.), professional life (attestations from work colleagues, copy of professional emails, etc.), or even and in particular, medical certificates attesting to the difficulties encountered in bearing the first name at birth.

How soon do we get a response?

The application circular does not give any. She merely mentions that the decision must be made “within a reasonable time”if necessary following a subsequent hearing, and that it must be dealt with “diligently once the interested parties have produced all the required documents”.

When can you change your identity papers?

Once the decision to change your first name is mentioned in the margins of your civil status certificates (birth certificate, marriage certificate) and those of the persons concerned by this change (birth certificate and marriage certificate of your spouse or your PACS partner, birth certificate of each of your children, etc.). No deadline is mentioned: everything depends on the diligence of the registry office. The modification of your identity card, your driving license and even your passport is, in this case, free.

Is there any recourse if the change is refused?

If the civil registrar considers that your request does not present a legitimate interest, he must contact the public prosecutor without delay (art. 60 of the Civil Code). In turn, given the information transmitted to him, the latter may or may not authorize the change of first name. If necessary, his refusal must be justified and must be notified to you. It is then possible to challenge it before the family court judge (the deadlines for appeal must be mentioned in his decision).

Is this process more complicated for a minor?

No, as long as parental authority is jointly exercised by both parents and they agree to change the first name (or change the order of the first names) of their child. Everyone must complete and sign the standard form, which will be delivered to the town hall with their respective identity documents and the necessary supporting documents.

On the other hand, when parental authority is exercised by a single parent, it is possible to carry out the first name change process alone before the civil registrar, provided that the other parent is informed. In either case, if a parent does not agree, the request for a change of first name must be addressed to the family court judge who will decide according to the interest of the minor child.

Is this process possible for a person born abroad?

Yes. If you live in France, you must go to the town hall of your place of residence. If you live abroad, you must contact the consular post or the embassy of the country in which you reside. Apart from a few specific supporting documents to be provided (previously legalized or apostilled birth certificate dating from less than 6 months for example), the procedure is strictly the same. Note that this process is also open to people of foreign nationality.

→ Find in our online kiosk the Practical Guide on Families

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