Brussels, 21 June 2012
Free movement: Swedish nationals can now register their full surnames
Today, the European Commission closed an infringement case against Sweden concerning the free movement directive. This comes after Sweden notified the Commission of its amended Names Act, which is now in line with EU rules on non-discrimination and free movement as it allows Swedish national to register registration under double surnames.
Following a complaint from a Swedish-Spanish couple that was not permitted to register their child under its Swedish-Spanish double surname, the Commission took action to ensure EU citizens' rights to non-discrimination and free movement. Thanks to the amended Swedish Names Act, dual-national children now enjoy the right to have their full surname registered in Sweden and parents will be able to register the full name without any difficulty and free of charge. Any person whose full surname was rejected before the entry into force of the law can now ask for registration of their double surname. In the light of this development, the Commission has decided to close the infringement procedure against Sweden.
"Thanks to determined Commission action, EU citizens are now able to register under a dual surname – easily and free of charge. This is good news for dual nationality couples who want to exercise their right to free movement and settle in Sweden," said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner.
So far, Swedish law allowed a dual-national child to be registered only under one of the parent's surnames. In the Swedish-Spanish case, the Swedish Courts refused the double name on the grounds that Swedish law provided the possibility for the parents to lodge a request for modification of the child's surname which might allow them to achieve the registration of their child's full surname. This possibility was linked, however, to a legal procedure and subject to a fee.
The name and surname of a person constitute part of the core of a person's civil legal status and produce legal effects as from the date of birth. People with dual citizenship should be able to enjoy, right from the start, the rights conferred on them by Union law. The fact that Swedish law allowed for a subsequent name change was not considered to resolve the situation of divergent surnames and was hence not in line with the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ cases C-148/02 and C-353/06).
The Commission sent a Reasoned Opinion to Sweden on 22 March 2010 and the Swedish authorities committed to take the necessary steps. The new law (2012:66) entered into force on 1 March 2012.
For more information
Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:
Justice Directorate General Newsroom: