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Change of name to foreign one

When submitting an application to the Registry Office for a change of name or surname, we may be refused on the grounds that, according to the opinion of the Polish Language Council, the given name does not exist in Polish language. The offices indicate that changing a surname with the Polish wording and Polish spelling to a surname with a foreign wording and spelling is allowed only in exceptional cases, e.g. when a given person belongs to a national minority or if he or she has the citizenship of another country and bears a name in accordance with its law. However, it is difficult to indicate a legal basis for such an opinion.The authority usually relies on an outdated act and the case law issued on its basis. However, it should be considered whether the change of the first and / or last name to a foreign one can actually be a reason for refusal in accordance with the current law.

Both giving a child a foreign first name and changing the first name to a foreign name are consistent with the Polish legal order as well as with the act on changing the name and surname, as well as the act on civil status records. Opposing views were sometimes expressed on the basis of the Act on the change of names and surnames of November 15, 1956 (not in force since June 13, 2009), in connection with the interpretation of Art. 2 sec. 2 point 2 letter b). This provision has no analogy in the act currently in force.The current act, and in particular Art. 3 sec. 1 or Art. 4 sec. 1, does not introduce any restrictions on changing the first name into a foreign-sounding first name that does not exist in the Polish language.

Such a position was also taken by the Provincial Administrative Court in Warsaw, which in the judgment of 13 August 2019 IV SA / Wa 1094/19 indicated: "the authority is not right that the change of names and surnames with Polish wording and spelling in favor of and foreign spelling would be contrary to the premises set out in the applicable act. Such a conclusion was derived from the jurisprudence of administrative courts concerning the previously binding act. Currently, such a circumstance is not inconsistent with the applicable provisions of law, therefore the authority has incorrectly interpreted Art. 4 sec. 1 of the Act". Moreover, in the judgment of the Provincial Administrative Court in Krakow of April 20, 2004 (II SA / Kr 1175/00) it was stated that "there is no legal significance as to whether the first name to which the aplicant wishes to change the current first name is Polish or non-Polish, and only whether the request to change the current name is based on other important reasons within the meaning of Art. 2 clause 1 of the Act of November 15, 1956 on the change of names and surnames”. This judgment remains valid also under current act.

It follows directly from the above that there are no grounds for limiting the possibility of changing Polish names and surnames to foreign-sounding names. If you are faced with this type of problem, please contact us.

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