Changing your name in Finland

Are you thinking of changing your first name or family name in Finland? Read on!

Note: this is not legal advice. I won’t be responsible for consequences of following these instructions. This is just based on personal research and experiences.

Who can change their name in Finland? Is citizenship needed?

At the time of this writing anyone who has a home domicile in Finland has the right to change their name, basically you don’t need to be a Finnish citizen to change your name. For example if you have come to Finland for studying, your study residence permit is enough for changing your name in Finland. Read more about it on Maistraatti’s website.

How can I change my first name?

It’s a simple process. Specially if it’s your first time. You fill out some form at your closest Maistraatti or online, then you’ll get a bill that at the time of writing it’s 25 euros. In 2 weeks it should be done. No dramas. Then you’ll get some time to change all your cards, like residence permit, driving license etc.

How can I change my family name?

This one is trickier. If you want to change your family name to your spouse because of say marriage, it might be simpler. But if you like to change to to something totally new only because you don’t like your previous one you got lots of reading in Finnish ahead!

You need to read the “nimilaki”, roughly translated to “name law”. You can read it on Finlex.fi: Nimilaki

The gist, based on my experience is:

  1. Find 1 to 4 family names that you like, and see the rest of this article about how those should be.
  2. Send the application at your closest Maistraatti, or online.
  3. They’ll send you a bill for about 100 euros
  4. You’ll wait for 4 to 10 months, and if one of those names get accepted you’ll get another bill for 100 euros.

Family names must be unique

If you’re planning to change your family name to something new, it shouldn’t already exist in Finland’s population register. Imagine you’d like to change your family name to Parksola, and assuming that Parksola hasn’t been your family name even among your ancestors, you need to make sure that at this page it says Parksola is not in the system: Population Register Center

Finnish population register system for last names
Finnish population register system for last names

If you know some programming, I made a script that checks a list of names against that website, if you have tons of family names that you want to check and make sure which ones are free you can check the code on this repository.

Family names should work well in Finnish or Swedish

All new family names need to be approved by a board. When you send the application to change your family name that board checks that the name works well from linguistics aspects of Finnish and Swedish.

Here’s a list of proposed family names in Swedish and Finnish from the Institute for the Languages in Finland. As it’s explained in the page, some of them are already taken, and some of them can’t be used for reasons like being registered as a trade mark already. Use that list for inspiration, and if you like to take something off that list, you have to do your own checks.

This post will be updated šŸ™‚

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3 Comments

  1. I have a question regarding this article. I am living in Finland as a student, but I am citizen of other country. I want to change family name in country of my citizenship. If I do so, will Finland recognize it? What if my new family name, what I change in other country, already exists in the register or it does not sound Finnish or Swedish?

    1. I’m not a lawyer, but I guess it should be fine. If you change it your country of origin, Finland should have no problem updating it here.

  2. can i change my name to anything i want? iā€™d love to change my name to a joke.

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