Which surname can I choose for my child?

For your first child you can choose either the mother’s surname or the father’s surname. This surname will be given to all subsequent children. This is to ensure that all the children in a family have the same surname. You can choose your first child’s surname before birth or when registering the birth. Both parents must go to the Registrar of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Registered Partnerships to register the choice of surname. This cannot be done by one parent or in writing.

Automatic surname

If you do not choose a surname, your child will automatically be given the father’s surname or the mother’s surname. This depends on the family situation:

  • Parents who are married or registered partners (of different sexes)  

    Your child will automatically be given the father’s surname. However, you can choose the mother’s surname instead. To do so, both parents must go to the Registrar of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Registered Partnerships to register the choice of the mother’s surname. You can do this before the birth or when registering the birth.
  • Unmarried parents (of different sexes)

    Your child will automatically be given the mother’s surname. If you would prefer your child to be given the father’s surname, he must acknowledge the child. At the time of acknowledgement you will also be asked for your choice of surname. To acknowledge the child and choose its surname both parents must go to the Registrar of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Registered Partnerships. You can do this before birth, when registering the birth or at a later time after the birth.
  • Parents of the same sex (2 men)

    If you adopt a child with another man, you can choose either of your surnames. However, this only applies to your first child. Your other children will be given the same surname as your first child. You choose the surname of your child in court when formalising the adoption.
  • Parents of the same sex (2 women)

    If 2 women who are married or registered partners have a child, the following applies:
    • if the child was conceived through an anonymous sperm donation under the terms of the Human Fertilisation (Donor Information) Act: the child is given the surname of the co-mother. This only applies if the co-mother automatically becomes the child’s lawful parent when the child is born. The parents can also choose the surname of the biological mother;
    • if the child was conceived through a known donor and the co-mother acknowledges the child: the child is given the surname of the biological mother. The parents can also choose the surname of the co-mother by signing a declaration of surname choice.

New partner and child’s surname

Do you already have a child from a previous relationship and are you expecting a child with your new partner? In this case the child does not have to be given the same surname as his or her half-brother or half-sister by law. This is because the child is not being born to the same parents.

If you have more children with your new partner, they must all have the same surname.

Getting the chosen surname changed

You can have your surname changed under certain conditions (in Dutch). You must be 18 years or older to do so.

In some cases a change of surname can be requested for children (in Dutch) under 18.

Law on names

The right to a name (in Dutch) is described in Book 1 of the Civil Code.