• September 8, 2021
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Ministry of Justice Issues Recommendations on Spelling Surnames Using Non-Lithuanian Letters

The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania has issued recommendations to the Civil Registry Offices that a child’s name be entered using non-Lithuanian letters of the Latin alphabet in cases where a court has already allowed one member of the same family, a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania, to enter their surname with the letters QW, and X.

The recommendations will allow courts to optimize their work and help individuals exercise their rights more effectively.

It is envisaged that in cases where the issue of spelling the family name using non-Lithuanian letters of the Latin alphabet has already been resolved through judicial proceedings and where the civil status act of one of the parents has been amended based on a valid court decision, the parents’ application to enter the surname of the child in the birth certificate of said child or to change the surname of the child in relation to the already entered one should be accepted by the Civil Registry Office.

According to the Minister of Justice Evelina Dobrovolska, this issue is especially relevant to mixed families, where one of the spouses is a foreigner.

„In recent years, the Civil Registry Offices have not received court decisions denying such individuals the use of forenames or surnames with the letters Q, W, or X, so it is obvious that the new order is not only relevant to the country’s citizens, but also legally justified. The recommendations will not only shorten the process for the family aiming to register their child with the same surname, but will reduce the workload of the courts as well,” says Dobrovolska.

According to the data of the Civil Registry Offices, in the years 2019-2021, more than 150 court decisions were made by which the Civil Registry Offices were obliged to enter the forenames and surnames with the letters Q, X, or W into the civil status acts. The majority of such decisions, over a hundred, were handled by the Vilnius Civil Registry Office.

At present, nearly 400 Lithuanian citizens with a valid identity card or passport containing names with the letters Q, X, or W are registered in the Population Register.

“We cannot tolerate situations when a family that, based on a court decision, has already acquired the right to spell their family name using non-Lithuanian letters every time a child is born must again apply to the court for the child’s surname to be entered with the letters Q, X, and W. It is obvious that the additional work for the courts is a consequence of the lack of political will,” says Dobrovolska.

The recommendations issued today will avoid unnecessary litigation for giving the same surname to a member of the same family because such cases will be settled in the Civil Registry Offices rather than in court.

The State Commission of the Lithuanian language has formally expressed its opinion several years ago and does not object in the cases that both spouses and their children be allowed to use the letters QX, or W.

Translated by Aistė Turčinavičiūtė within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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