First name change

Your first or given name is part of your identity, who you are. Sometimes that identity changes, which requires a change of name. And sometimes your name never quite reflected who you are, so you want to take steps to match with your true self.

In the following we shall explain how to change your first name in the Netherlands. This also applies to middle names.

If you have minor children and want to change their name(s), the procedure is slightly different. Read more about name change for children here.

When can you change your name in the Netherlands? 

Regarding name changes, the law of your nationality is applicable. If you are of Dutch nationality, Dutch law is applicable and you can change your name. If you are British, British law is applicable and so on. Every country decides by their own rules which names can or cannot be given to its citizens. This also goes for how to legally change them. 

In the following we explain the procedure according to Dutch law. Please note again that this only applies if you have Dutch nationality. 

If you have a second nationality, besides Dutch nationality, Dutch law is applicable with regards to the name as stated on your Dutch passport. With regards to the name on your other passport, the law of that country is applicable. You may have to follow the name change procedure in both countries to have your passports match again. 

Who decides whether I can change my name?

In the Netherlands you have to file a court petition to change your first or middle names. The family court decides whether you can or cannot change your name. You can only start proceedings with the help of a lawyer. Your lawyer files the petition for you.

Under normal circumstances, no actual court hearing takes place. The court simply decides based on the written arguments presented in the petition. This means that you usually do not have to travel to The Netherlands if you are applying from abroad. You can communicate with us by (video)call and e-mail and we arrange the formalities.

What are the criteria for name change?

The petition has to state why you wish to change your first name. The legal criterium is that you have to prove you have a ‘sufficient vital interest’ (in Dutch: ‘voldoende zwaarwichtig belang‘) in changing your name. This criterium is flexible, so the court is free to decide based on all circumstances presented to it.

It boils down to you presenting a convincing case at to why it is important for you to change your name. Therefore, we ask you to provide a written statement explaining your reasons for wanting to change your name and send us any documents which can support your request. The more details, the greater the chance of success.  

Some examples:

  • Your name is unpronounceable in Dutch or in the country you now live in;
  • You have converted to another religion and want your name to reflect that;
  • Your name was misspelled on your birth certificate;
  • You have a strong connection to a family member, whose name you want to add to your own as an extra (middle) name;
  • You have emotional or psychological problems with your given name.

If you were born outside of The Netherlands, your birth certificate has to be registered in the Netherlands. Learn how you register your birth certificate here. The authorities execute the name change by amending your birth certificate. This automatically changes your name in the public registers.

How long does the process take?

Once the petition is sent to court, the court will communicate the expected judgment date. The duration differs per court; usually it takes approximately three months before you receive a judgment.

If the court decision is negative or you can appeal the judgement within three months after the date of the judgement. However, even if the court approves your request, you will need to wait for the appeal deadline to pass before the name change is officially registered. It is in the public interest that only definite judgements are registered. Therefore, the change of first name will not be registered until about a total of four months after the date of judgement have passed. 

In total the name change process takes about eight months.

The date your new name is registered on your birth certificate is the date your name legally changes. Registration takes place in the city you were born, or, if you were born outside of The Netherland, in The Hague. You may only apply for a new passport or other documents after the name change is registered.


Our law firm offers a fixed fee for standard legal proceedings to change one or more first names of
€ 1,524 (2023 price level). This fee includes our fees, VAT, court fees of € 314 and the costs of applying for a copy of a Dutch birth certificate within The Netherlands. Terms and conditions apply.

Please contact us if you want to change your name and take the first step towards being who you are now.

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