Changing a Child’s Surname in Serbia: Legal Insights and Procedures

Background and Legal Framework

In Serbia, changing a child’s surname involves specific legal provisions. This article addresses whether a foreign father of a child born in Serbia, registered in the birth registry, can change the child’s surname. The father, a dual citizen, holds two passports with different surnames and wishes to change the child’s registered surname to match the surname in his second passport. The father does not have temporary or permanent residence in Serbia, nor does the mother.

Legal Basis for Name Change

According to the Family Law of Serbia (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 18/2005, 72/2011 – other law, and 6/2015 – hereinafter: the Law), everyone has the right to a personal name, acquired at birth, which can be changed under conditions defined by the law. A personal name consists of a first name and surname and is entered into the birth registry. Article 344 of the Law stipulates that parents determine the child’s name, choosing freely but avoiding derogatory names, names that offend morality, or names contrary to customs and beliefs. According to Article 345, parents decide on the child’s surname based on one or both parents’ surnames, ensuring no differences among siblings.

Conditions for Changing a Child’s Surname

Article 349 of the Law specifies that a child’s surname can be changed under two conditions:

  1. Determining or disputing maternity or paternity.
  2. By the order of the custodial authority if the parents are deceased, unknown, or unable to agree on the child’s surname.

The Law on Registry Books (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 20/2009, 145/2014, and 47/2018) states that the registry books are official records of citizens’ personal status, documenting births, marriages, deaths, and other legally relevant changes. The birth registry includes the child’s full name, gender, date and place of birth, unique citizen identification number, nationality, and parents’ details.

Procedure for Changing a Child’s Surname

According to the Instructions on Maintaining Registry Books and Registry Book Forms (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 93/2018 and 24/2022 – hereinafter: the Instructions), if parents have different surnames, their agreement on the child’s surname is recorded according to the law governing general administrative procedures. If parents cannot agree or fail to decide within the legally stipulated period, the custodial authority will determine the child’s surname, which is then entered into the birth registry with a note indicating the authority’s decision.

Is a Name Change Possible in This Case?

In the given scenario, where the father wishes to change the child’s surname based on his second passport’s surname, the conditions under Article 349 for changing a child’s surname do not apply. Since the request does not involve determining or disputing maternity or paternity, nor is it a matter decided by the custodial authority, there is no legal basis for changing the child’s surname in this context.


The Serbian legal framework provides clear guidelines on the conditions under which a child’s surname can be changed. In this specific case, the request to change the child’s surname based on the father’s second passport does not meet the legal requirements outlined in the Family Law and other relevant regulations. Therefore, there is no legal ground for changing the child’s surname.

For further assistance and personalized legal advice on this matter, contact Stojković Attorneys (AK STATT). Our team of legal experts is ready to guide you through the complexities of Serbian law and help you understand your rights and obligations regarding name changes and other family law issues.

#Serbia, birth registry, child surname change, Dual Citizenship, family law, foreign parent, legal advice, legal procedures, name change, Stojković Attorneys

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