The name change procedure is not devolved to the courts but to the Seal Service of the Ministry of Justice.
Law n ° 93-22 of January 8, 1993 and decree n ° 94-52 of January 20, 1994 relating to the name change procedure, subject the name change to a legitimate reason, such as:
- Foreign sounding names;
- Names that sound offensive or coarse…;
- In case of risk of extinction of the name;
This procedure must be distinguished from naturalization. When the foreign person applies for French nationality, he or she will be granted the possibility of francizing a foreign name.
Referral to the Keeper of the Seals, Minister of Justice
The request must be addressed to the public prosecutor who transmits the request to the Keeper of the Seals, the Minister of Justice.
The request is investigated by the ministry who can ask the public prosecutor to make an investigation. In case of rejection, the decision must be motivated.
It will be possible to contest it by making a contentious appeal in excess of power before the administrative tribunal of Paris within 2 months of the rejection decision.
It will first be necessary to make a graceful appeal within 2 months of the rejection decision, sent to the Minister of Justice with new elements, otherwise, it will not be revised. This appeal suspends the time limit for referral to the administrative court.
If the request for a name change is accepted, the Keeper of the Seals issues a decree which will be published with the request in the Official Gazette.
The amplification of the decree (copy of the act which has the same value as the original) is sent to the applicant by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt.
The right of opposition of third parties
From its publication, third parties will have 2 months to file an opposition before the Council of State.
These third parties may have a legitimate interest in protecting their name, to avoid any confusion. For example, if an applicant asked to be called Rothschild, de Gaulle, Hermès, Saint Laurent, Chanel ... the members of these families (for some of whom the name is also a registered trademark) could invoke serious damage and therefore, a legitimate reason to oppose it.
It is a way of making effective the protection enjoyed by a family name. If the Council of State cancels the decree, it will not be possible to renew the request on the same name (repeat the procedure with another choice of name).
In the absence of opposition within 2 months, the secretariat of the litigation section issues a certificate of non-opposition (or rejection of opposition if the finding is unfounded).
The change of name will be entered in the margin of the birth certificate of the civil status of the applicant and all members of his family (women, children under 13).
Children over 13 will need to give their consent to benefit from this name change.