22 March 2023, by Victoria Séveno

The Dutch government has passed a new law that means that, from January 1, 2024, children born in the Netherlands will be able to be registered with the surnames of both their parents. 

Dutch government passes bill for double-barrel surnames for newborns

Traditionally, babies born in the Netherlands automatically received their father’s surname. Dutch law was adjusted in 1998 in order to allow new parents to register their child with the mother’s surname instead. But now, parents will no longer need to make that decision, as they’ll be able to register their newborn with a double-barrel surname. 

After being passed by the Senate (Eerste Kamer) on Tuesday, it has been announced that the new law will come into effect on January 1, 2024, and the option of a double surname will be open to parents whose first child is born on or after this date. The government has confirmed there will also be a transitional period for parents whose eldest child was born on or after January 1, 2016: they’ll have 12 months to decide whether they want to re-register their child(ren) with a double surname. 

“Your last name is part of the identity. Your name says something about your family, your history and the people you belong to,” Franc Weerwind, the Dutch Minister for Legal Protection, said in a statement. “This law increases parents’ freedom of choice. With this, they can both express their bond with the child in the name.” 

New parents can choose a double surname – but it isn’t mandatory

The law will also impact people who already have double-barrel surnames, as the government explains: “For the group of people who already have double surnames, such as Van Bergen Henegouwen, this name will be regarded as a single surname after January 1.” This means that their children could in theory have a “triple” surname, for example, “Van Bergen Henegouwen De Boer”.

Adopted children will be able to decide whether they’d like to combine their birth name with the surname of their adoptive parent(s), but a maximum of two surnames in total will apply in these cases. 

If families don’t opt for a double surname, then newborns will automatically receive the surname of their birth mother in cases where the parents aren’t married or in a registered partnership, regardless of whether the parents are in an opposite-sex or same-sex relationship. In cases where the parents are married or in a registered partnership, the child will receive the surname of the father or co-mother.

Thumb: Purd77 via Shutterstock.com.

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