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Switzerland set to allow double surnames again

The Local Switzerland
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Switzerland set to allow double surnames again
A couple on their wedding day. Photo: Pexels from Pixabay

Since 2013, double-barrelled surnames have not been permitted in Switzerland, but this rule looks set to be overturned.


It is just over 10 years since Swiss parliament abolished the rule allowing people to have a double surname.

So, if you were hoping to use your maiden name as a middle name after getting married, for instance 'Eva Meier-Müller', this is not possible. 

The only format that is allowed is hyphenated last names such as 'Meier-Müller'. But these are not considered officially registered names in Switzerland, although people can use the surname in everyday life and even have it featured on an identity card and passport.

However, on January 24th, 2024, the Federal Council has come out in favour of allowing "married couples to once again have a double name composed of their two names and formed with or without a hyphen," the government said in a press release.

“It also intends to make it possible to give children a double name, whether the parents are married or not. Children could also have a double name even if their parents both kept their own names."

READ ALSO: Are double surnames allowed in Switzerland?

Under current rules, people getting married keep their names after marriage and can apply to change their surnames. This was brought into force to benefit equality. 

But according to Swiss media, three-quarters of brides still prefer to take the man's name for traditional reasons. A groom taking the bride's name happens in only two percent of the cases, the Tages-Anzeiger reports.

'Freedom of choice'

In an interview with the Tages-Anzeiger, Commission President Christa Markwalder, of the FDP party said: "We want to expand the freedom of choice without taking anything away from anyone."

The new regulation will allow both "Schneider Schmid" and "Schmid Schneider", while a hyphenated name is still possible. In future, this form of the surname will also be recognised officially.


Furthermore, children will be able to have a double surname composed of the surnames of their parents. The restriction here is that all children in a family must have the same surname.

Meanwhile, when marrying people with double names, couples must also limit themselves to just two surnames - quadruple or even eightfold names will not be allowed. 

READ ALSO: Why so many baby names are banned in Switzerland 

New regulation to apply retroactively

When introduced, the rules are to apply to couples who are already married. Children who are 12 years old or older must give their consent for a name change. This also applies to children in same-sex marriages, the Tages-Anzeiger reports.

However, the reform is not yet a done deal. If the amendment is approved by both the National Council and the Council of States, the reform will come into force in 2025 at the earliest.


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