The Government Endorses New Rules on the Spelling of Personal Names 

Date

2022 05 27

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The Cabinet approved a draft decree prepared by the Ministry of Justice aimed at creating legal preconditions for the proper implementation of the provisions of the Law on the Spelling of the Name and Surname in Documents that comes into force on 1 May.

The Law on the Spelling of the Name and Surname in Documents that lays down the basic requirements for spelling a person's name and surname in identity documents of a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania, in civil status records and other official documents was adopted by the Seimas on 18 January 2022.

The draft decree establishes the principal provisions under which names and surnames of citizens of the Republic of Lithuania shall be spelled in the Lithuanian characters in accordance with relevant laws, resolutions of the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language, and other legal acts or recommendations on the spelling of personal names; in addition, differences in the form of personal names according to gender shall be taken into account. These requirements may be waived only in exceptional cases. 

The provisions defining exceptional cases are aimed at plugging the loopholes in the legal regulation which have prevented individuals from having their personal names spelled in their original form. Besides, some persons had to go to court in order to defend the right to have his/her name spelled in the original form.

In the words of the Minister of Justice Evelina Dobrovolska, there have been no court decisions in recent years refusing to grant names or surnames with the letters Q, W, X to individuals; therefore, it is obvious that the new procedure is not only important to the country's population but is also legally sound.

„Currently, courts allow personal documents to include names and surnames with the letters Q, W and X, as well as combinations that are not typical of the Lithuanian language, such as a surname with two letters N. These court decisions have become final and such names and surnames of persons have already been registered in the Population or Real Estate Registers; besides, contracts are concluded with such persons, “E. Dobrovolska says.

In the words of the Minister, the new legislation will also contribute to reducing the workload of the courts. In 2020, the courts granted 79 requests to change personal names, in 2021 they granted 45 such requests, and this year saw opening of 21 such cases.

Currently, due to loopholes in the legal framework, there are cases where mixed families - in most cases these are children with dual nationality - have two passports with their names or surnames spelled in different ways which can lead to problems of establishing their identity.

Moreover, the Court of Justice of the European Union has held that different spellings of the same surname of two persons in the same married couple may cause serious inconvenience to the persons concerned both in their professional and private lives.

The new legislation will allow names and surnames of the following persons to be written in personal documents using characters of the Latin alphabet without diacritical marks:

- Citizens of the Republic of Lithuania and their children the nationality of whom is not Lithuanian. The nationality of the person being other than Lithuanian, or, in the case of children's names and surnames, the nationality of the parents or one of them shall be indicated in the Population Register. Only the names from a national list of names can be written in non-Lithuanian characters in accordance with the rules of the national language;

- A citizen of the Republic of Lithuania who acquired his/her name or surname in a foreign country where he/she lives or has lived, and the name or surname is written in such characters in the source document;

- A citizen of the Republic of Lithuania who chooses to be a bearer of the surname of his/her spouse whose surname is written in non-Lithuanian characters in the source document;

- A citizen of the Republic of Lithuania whose parents' or one of the parents' surnames are written using non-Lithuanian characters in the source document.

In cases of transcription or transliteration of personal names, letters with diacritical marks that exist in the Lithuanian alphabet can be used; besides, some additional characters such as a hyphen, apostrophe, parentheses, and dots can also be used in such cases.

The provisions of the draft Decree enter into force on 1 May this year.