Can I change my name to one that is more ‘French’?

There must be a ‘legitimate reason’ for a name change

An official sign of the French Republic
Some people request to change their name for personal reasons, others to become ‘more French’

Reader Question: I recently moved to France, and want to change my family name to look ‘more French’ to fit in. Is this possible?

The first thing to note is that you can only change your name in France if you are a French citizen. There is also a requirement to be an adult and ‘of sound mind’.

If you do not have French nationality, you will have to change your name in your home country.

For Britons, this is usually done via deed poll. However this is not available to those who live overseas. 

There is an alternative called a statutory declaration, however, which is a possibility, although it does need to be witnessed by a UK-qualified lawyer which can usually be found in larger cities.

Changing your nationality when receiving citizenship 

It is possible to change your name at the same time as receiving French citizenship. 

This can be done, for example, to make your name look ‘more French’, or because it may have negative connotations in France (eg. if it sounds like a French swear word, is the name of a historical person viewed negatively in France, etc). 

This needs to be done within the first year of receiving French nationality, or as part of your application process.

You can apply for this using Cerfa form 65–0054 if you already have citizenship or here if you are not yet French.

Read more: Residency card, tax, visa: Who to inform and how if you move in France

Changing your name after one year

If you have been a French citizen for a long time you can still ask to change your name but the process takes a lot longer.

The exact rules will depend on your status, such as if you have children whose names will also be affected. You must apply online to make an official announcement in the Journal Officiel here of your intention to change it.

Your request must be for a ‘legitimate reason’ although this can include changing your name to make it sound more French.

After this, you must apply to change your name through the Ministry of Justice.

This process can sometimes take years, and can cost up to €700. It can only be done once.

Your request may be refused. You have two months to appeal the decision.

Read more: How long do I need to keep old French documents?

If your request is accepted, you will need to update your official information, including identity cards and passports, but this is free (at least for French pieces of ID).

You can also ask to update your carte Vitale and driving licence with the new name.

If you are changing your name to add your mother’s, father’s, or another family name to yours (and are not changing any part of your current name, this is known as a procédure simplifiée and does not require a justification. 

Read more: Do I have to update my carte de séjour if French street name changes?