Sunday, May 9, 2010

Changing your name in Spain

In most European countries, there are very few instances when you are allowed to legally change your name. In fact, since married couples in Spain usually keep their last name unchanged, it's even less common here than in other European countries.

This means that stories like this one, where a man legally named "Lord Jesus Christ" got hit by a car are somewhat confusing to Spaniards.

Not to mention the fact that if someone named Señor Jesús Cristo was hit by a car in Spain, it probably wouldn't make El Pais.

I've always wondered why Jesús is such a common first name in Spanish culture (and not so much in other parts of Europe). My pet theory is that it came from the tradition of calling your sons "Mohammed" back when Spain was Muslim. When the reconquista was happening, people realized which which way the wind was blowing and switched to Jesús instead.


Charles Butler said...

Except when you claim your citizenship by birthright - and they change your name for you.

santcugat said...

Really? Sounds like a mess...

I ran into a similar problem when I moved here and my parent's name change wasn't recognized as legal in Europe. Of course, this was after my kids were born, so they have my new last name and I have my old one back.


Charles Butler said...

I'm the fourth successive generation to change nationalities between Spain and the US or Canada. You should see the confusion of monickers in its wake.

Unknown said...

Hi there,
As a fellow American who lives in Sant Cugat but is out of the expat thing, your blog is great and timely. Hope to see you round the hood.

Vegar said...

Hey, any change in the Spanish name changing area? Will be moving there soon. Name changing in Norway (where I'm currently residing) is quite a hassle, and rather expensive and time consuming, especially if you want your last name changed to something specific. I've read about other foreigners in Spain who live their lives using "Spanish-style" aliases. A social nick name, if you will. I will most probably do the same, and keep my original name. Just a shout out :)

santcugat said...

Unless you are a Spanish citizen, I was told that you can't change your name in Spain. They told me to go change it in my home country, which I ended up doing. Once I had that done, I took my new passport to every agency and bank and got them to change it. It wasn't a big deal.