Names can be changed if the provisions of naming laws are complied with. A change in name is permitted once except when special circumstances apply.
What can be changed?
There can be a total of 3 first and middle names and 2 surnames. A person may have no more than 5 names.
- First name. If there is a request for a name not listed on the official list of names for persons, Registers Iceland will forward the matter to the Personal Names Committee.
- Middle name. Middle names have a somewhat unique position, and different rules apply to them. Middle names should be listed on the official list of names for persons, but the genitive form of a parent’s name may also be used as a middle name, and in some instances, a family name may be used as a middle name. Icelandic nationals may only adopt the family name of a spouse as a middle name.
- Surname Matronymic, patronymic or both, or a family name if the person has the right to carry it. Those who wish to have a family name as a surname must have a direct-line ancestor that had the name registered in Registers Iceland when the naming law of 1991 entered into effect in the autumn of that year. An Icelandic national who wishes to adopt the family name of a spouse can only adopt it as a middle name.
Foreign alphabet characters are not recorded in the registry. All characters that are not part of the Icelandic alphabet are considered foreign characters. Foreign characters are transcribed according to set rules.
Consent for a change in a child's name
The consent of both custodians is always required when a child’s name is changed. If there has been a change in custody since the child was named, the consent of the guardian at the time of the child’s original naming is also required. The consent of the child is also required for children 12 years and older.
When a child’s surname is changed, the consent of the parent after whom the child has been named up to that time is always required. If a child is to be identified with a step-parent or step-parents, the consent of the parents is always required, even if the child is not identified with them and they do not have custody over him/her.
A change in name is permitted once except when special circumstances apply. A change in a child’s name has no effect on the child’s chance of requesting a change of name after turning 18.
Change of name for Icelanders residing abroad
Icelanders whose legal domicile is outside Iceland must have their name changed in the country where they reside. When a name has been changed abroad, a confirmation must be sent to Registers Iceland. A confirmation can be in the form of a certificate from a foreign authority or legal identification containing the new name. A copy of legal identification documents must be attached.
It is recommended to have the same form of names registered in Iceland and abroad. Those who have one name registered in Registers Iceland and another registered abroad may have trouble proving that they are one and the same person.
Change of name for foreign nationals
Foreign nationals residing in Iceland can apply for a change of name on the basis of the naming laws.
Note that changes of names that are legal in Iceland may not be legal in the persons’ home country.