Getting your maiden name back after your divorce – FAQ’s

Taking your partner’s name upon marriage is still quite common. However, you may not want to keep it after the divorce. This blog discusses some frequently asked questions about when you can officially change back to your maiden name in The Netherlands.

Read more: Getting your maiden name back after your divorce – FAQ’s
Getting back your maiden name

I married and divorced in the Netherlands

Under Dutch law, a woman (or man) can get her maiden name back without any formal restrictions. The only conditions for this are that you have Dutch nationality and that the divorce (and the marriage) is registered in the Dutch civil registry.

Reclaiming your maiden name does require positive action. If you do not undertake any action after your divorce, then you will keep the surname of your former partner. To change back to your maiden name you have to file a simple request to the municipality (‘gemeente’) where you live.

I married in another country, but I divorced in the Netherlands

This can be split into two categories:

A. You were a Dutch national at the time of your marriage

In this case you can (with some extra red tape as you will have to register your marriage certificate in The Hague first) have you name changed back your maiden name via the gemeente as above.

B. You moved to and naturalised in The Netherlands after the marriage

The problem here is that there is often no record in The Netherlands of your maiden name. You legally only bear the name of your ex-partner after marriage in some countries, so you naturalised with only your married name. If this situation is applicable to you, then you cannot change your surname as easily.

Can I still change my name back though?

There is another possibility in the “wondrous world of name law”. You can request to revert to your maiden name “by royal decree”. This sounds a bit official and distant, but this is basically a request to the ministry of justice to officially change your name.

The procedure takes approximately a year and can be requested via an online form available here.

You do not officially need a lawyer for this procedure, but you will need someone who speaks Dutch to help you as all documents and forms are in Dutch.

Do keep in mind that there is always a chance that your request will be denied, for example if the foreign paperwork is not clear. However, in the case of maiden names requests are almost always granted. The costs for this procedure are currently (in 2023) EUR 835. Beware, you owe these costs even if the request is ultimately denied. When your request is granted, you will receive a royal decree from the King granting the name change. Once the decision is final, you can apply for new documents.


Various women’s advocates have expressed concerns about the cost of this procedure, while the right to use your own name (again) should be a given right. Mainly, the question is whether the price tag leads to discrimination. So far, the Dutch lower courts, however, have ruled that the procedure is not discriminatory. See an example here.
In theory, this can also happen to men. However, most countries that scrap a person’s maiden name do not have liberal laws allowing the man to take the woman’s name. Nor for that matter do they allow same sex partnerships.

Until current legislation changes, therefore, this procedure is the only way a divorced women that has lost her maiden name in another country can reclaim it.

I married in another country and divorced in another country

If you married and divorced in another country than the Netherlands, in principle, you have to change your last name in the country you registered your divorce. The law of that country is applicable.

However, the same procedure as stated above could be applicable in terms of changing your surname in the Netherlands. Keep in mind that for the procedure as stated above, you need to be a Dutch citizen, a stateless citizen or a person with an asylum residency permit. This will, however, not automatically change your name in the country you were formerly married (and may be living) in.

In the process of naturalising?

Are you now in the process of naturalisation or planning to do so in the foreseeable future? Try to change your last name to your maiden name in the country you are currently a citizen of during this process to avoid administrative hassle in the future.

Registering name changes from other countries

Did you already revert to your maiden name in a foreign country and are you now a Dutch citizen? Because this change has happened outside the Netherlands, you will have to register this at the municipality’s office of the city you are registered in.

You will need to produce the original foreign document in which the change of your last name was made. If necessary, you will need a sworn translation of the document. Keep in mind that not all foreign documents have immediate legal validity in the Netherlands. Documents from certain countries must be legalized or apostilled first.

Do I have to apply for new documents with my maiden name right away?

Government advice is that you can keep your current ID documents until it is time for them to normally expire. However, if you are planning to move out of The Netherlands, it may be advisable to renew them before you move.

Can my ex-partner force me to keep their last name?

No, this is the choice of the woman (or man) only.

Can my ex-partner force me to drop their name?

In principle, no. The law states that you may choose to keep your married name or continue to use both your married and maiden name together, as is fairly common in The Netherlands. The law applies equally to men that have taken their ex-partner’s name.

However, when you marry or enter into registered partnership with another person, you cannot keep the last name of your former partner.

According to Dutch law, in some circumstances your ex-partner can object to you continuing to use their name. They can request the court to strip you of your married name if there are valid reasons for the ex-spouse to object. This can only be requested if there are no children. If there are children born from the marriage, your ex-partner cannot force you, under any circumstances, to drop their last name. This is because the right to carry the same name as your children bears more weight legally.

We hope you found our FAQ helpful. If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

This blog was co-written by Elena Cornelisse.

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