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Marriage, registered partnership and surname

In principle, people who have married or who have submitted a registered partnership declaration retain their own surname. They can also adopt a common surname.

⚠ Important information concerning the situation of the new coronavirus: the Civil Registry Office is adapting to the extraordinary health situation.
More information on the measures taken by the City of Geneva

Since 1 January 2013, the right of name has been subject to significant changes:

Retaining your own surname

In principle, spouses and registered partners retain their own surname.

Choosing the children’s surname

During the preparatory procedure for a marriage, parents must choose the surname their children will use. This can only be the maiden name of one or other parent. The fiancés can be released from this obligation in duly justified cases.

Choosing a common surname

Fiancés who will marry or register a partnership also have the option of declaring their desire to adopt a common surname which can only be the maiden name of one or other of the parties.

Joint name

A joint name is the name chosen for the purposes of daily use by one or both parties who are married or are living in a registered partnership. It is not an official name and is therefore not recorded in the civil register.

This combination of two names joined by a hyphen expresses the official bond between two people and represents a customary right recognised in Switzerland which has been incorporated into the legislation concerning identity documents. At the request of the applicant, it can be indicated as their name on their passport or identity card or as an official addition on their passport.

More detailed information is available on the Swiss Confederation website.

Pursuant to the Federal Act on Private International Law (LDIP), a foreign spouse or foreign registered partners can, under certain conditions, request that their name be governed by their own national legislation.

Renewing official documents

If you change your surname after marrying or registering a partnership, you must have your identity documents renewed together with a number of other official documents such as:

  • your passport and identity card;
  • your driving licence and vehicle registration document;
  • your bank cards and credit cards;
  • etc.


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Article modifié le 13.05.2020 à 13:07