- April 6, 2016
Another “w” in Lithuanian official document
The Lithuanian citizen Miglė Vantens has come out on top. After having married a Belgium’s citizen, she managed to have her surname recorded in the marriage certificate with the letter “w.”
At the end of February the court pronounced that the surname “Wantens” was to be written in the marriage certificate. The Register Office of the Vilnius City did not appeal against the judicial decision.
It is the second case in Vilnius when in the marriage certificate a Lithuanian citizen’s surname is written using letters which are not present in the Lithuanian alphabet. Towards the end of July last year, a Lithuanian citizen who had also married a Belgian man had her surname changed from Pauvels to Pauwels pursuant to the court ruling. Currently, the Lithuanian is claiming the right to have her surname in its original form in the passport as well.
Today the court in Vilnius starts the examination of another case concerning spelling a surname with the letter “w” in the birth certificate.
Chef of the Register Office of the Vilnius City Ilona Jurgutienė claims that if there are more pronouncements about the possibility of spelling surnames containing letters which are not included in the Lithuanian alphabet in the future, they will not be appealed against in the higher court.
“Naturally, we won’t be appealing against the rulings […] as the European Court of Justice among others has explained that a person is allowed to go to court in their country and prove how much trouble the spelling of the surname in a form inconsistent to its original sound causes,” explains Jurgutienė.
Lithuanian regulations restrict first and last names of Lithuania’s citizens to be spelled only with the letters of the Lithuanian alphabet.
Two bills on the original surname spelling in identity documents have been submitted in the Lithuanian Seimas. One of them provides for the original surname spelling using non-Lithuanian letters of the Latin alphabet on the basic page of the passport. The alternative bill assumes the original surname spelling just on the extra page of identity documents.
The original surname spelling problem is raised more and more often by Lithuanian women who marry foreigners. They complain about trouble, including legal problems, resulting from the divergence between spouses’ surnames, as offices in Lithuania adapt foreign-sounding ones (e.g. when writing “Pauvels” instead of the original form “Pauwels”).
Translated by Karolina Katarzyńska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.