Lawyer in Turkey: January 2018

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Legally change your Name in Turkey

There are a lot of reasons as to why a foreigner in Turkey might want to change their name.
Since the existing of humanity it is essential that a person is addressed with a name. Also a legal name has to be used to make the distinction between persons and families.

A first and last name is a legal and also unique to identity of a person within the society.
When a person does not agree with his / her name, this person has the right to change his / her name in court.
Examples of reasons are: difficulty in pronouncing, ridiculous, asking questions, creates annoyance, unethical, leads to confusion, meaningless, gender reassignment, bad reputation of the family, forbidden name, and so on.
This article as such does not concern the above-mentioned ponderous reasons, but rather situations in which foreigners, desired or undesirable, have become involved during the acquisition of the Turkish Nationality (the Turkish Kimlik).

It is that Turkey has had a strange policy in granting Turkish citizenship to foreigners and provided foreigners a Turkish name when they were granted Turkish citizenship.
Foreigners often got a new Turkish name next to their own name or even instead of their own name. The explanation was that a Turkish citizen could not have a foreign name or foreign character characters in their own name.
The unsuspecting foreigner did not have any knowledge of the legal consequences that this could have on his life.
Technically, a second personality was created next to the identity that the foreigner already had.
In my opinion a violation of the personality rights.

A practical example:
Mrs. Sarah Koster has got a Turkish surname after her marriage with a Turkish citizen.
She is registered as Sarah Selma Bal. However, her name is simply Sarah Koster on her foreign passport. After 20 years of marriage she ends up in a divorce and gets her maiden name Koster back.

After the divorce procedure the added Turkish name 'Selma' is not included in the court decision.
Mrs. Sarah Koster has to start a separate name change procedure.  Another option is to keep the name Selma. Usually a legal procedure has to be started in your own country, to register the name Selma next to your own name.

Recently changes of the Turkish Name Act, has caused that this policy is no longer applied. But the legal situation for those who have received a Turkish name remains unchanged.
If desired, a short court procedure to Civil Affairs, is needed to change your name. The final decision will be published in several local newspapers in order to register it in the Civil Registry.