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EXPLAINED: Can you have a double surname after marriage in Switzerland?

Sandra Sparrowhawk
Sandra Sparrowhawk - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: Can you have a double surname after marriage in Switzerland?
Two Gold-colored Wedding Bands on Book Page, Photo by Caio:

Switzerland has complex rules when it comes to surnames. Spouses can choose to keep their maiden name intact, take on their partner’s surname and even opt for a combined (yet unofficial) surname.


Since January 1st, 2013, tying the knot in Switzerland no longer has any effect on you or your spouse’s last name. Instead, married couples keep their last names after marriage unless they themselves decide to change it. This also applies to same-sex couples who choose to register their partnership.

READ ALSO: What changes (and what doesn't) when you get married in Switzerland

Can I have a double surname in Switzerland?

No, you cannot. Double surnames, such as Meier Müller, are no longer allowed in Switzerland.

So, if you were hoping to use your maiden name as a middle name for instance, in Switzerland this will not be possible.

Those who married before January 1st, 2013, and already have a double surname since their marriage can swap their double name for their maiden name if they choose to. All you will need to do in that case is fill in a form expressing your desire to change your surname back to your maiden name.

However, those who married prior to 2013 and wish to hold on to their double surname are free to do so.

Does this rule also apply to hyphenated surnames?

No, this rule does not apply to hyphenated surnames, also known as alliance names, in Switzerland.

Unlike double names like Meier Müller – which are the two most common last names in Switzerland – hyphenated last names such as “Meier-Müller”, are still allowed.

Though hyphenated names are regarded as so-called alliance names in Switzerland, meaning they are not considered officially registered names, you can use a hyphenated last name in your everyday life and even have it featured in your identity card and passport.

In the case of an alliance name, the married individual would consider their maiden name their official surname and this will be the name that is featured in civil status documents.


Am I allowed to invent a new surname made up of both our maiden names?

No, in Switzerland you are not allowed to come up with a made-up combination of both maiden names.

Which surname will my future children have?

The same surname rules apply to any future children you may have after marriage. Any future children will get you and your partner’s shared surname.

However, if both parties decide to keep their maiden names intact and plan on having children in the future, in Switzerland you will need to decide on a surname for your future children at the time of marriage - and not once the baby is born or adopted.

But if you think that this is too much pressure on your wedding day, don’t panic just yet.

A baby lying down

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

In Switzerland, after the birth of your first child, you will still be able to change their surname during their first year on planet Earth should you change your mind on the previously chosen surname.


However, once you have agreed on a new surname for your first child, that surname will be set in stone. You will no longer be able to change your first child's or any future children’s surnames again.

Can I get my maiden name back after a divorce?

According to Switzerland's naming law, the spouse who decided to change their name upon marriage also keeps their married surname after the divorce.

However, it is possible to go back to using your unmarried name as long as you make a declaration at any registry office in Switzerland. Ideally, you will want to reach out to the registry office in advance by telephone to clarify which documents you need to bring with you.

You will also need to pay a fee of 75 francs.


Can I use my first married name again following a second divorce?

You can only go back to the name from your first marriage by formally applying to change your name.

However, it is important to note that changing your name in Switzerland is not always easy and there may be numerous administrative hurdles you will need to overcome.

In general, Switzerland's rules on (non-marriage) name changes dictate that a person may only be liable to change their name if they seek to eliminate disadvantages associated with the previous name.

It is not enough to simply fancy trying out a new name.

Instead, the motives for a name change must be understandable, comprehensible (e.g. using supporting documents) and convincing.

Additionally, alleged facts must be proven and not just made credible, while the reasons asserted must not be unlawful, abusive or immoral.

If you are looking to change your name in Switzerland but are unsure whether you fulfil the criteria for a name change, it is best to get in touch with your local municipality first.


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