More Dutch changing their surnames

Crowded train station in the Netherlands
Crowded train station in the Netherlands. (Photo: Iijjccoo / Wikimedia Commons)

An increasing number of Dutch seem to be dissatisfied with their surname, with more and more people going through the administrative hassle and high costs to change it. Last year 2,057 surname changes were approved, compared to 1,269 in 2012, RTL Nieuws reports based on figures from the Justis Department. 

The reasons for name changes vary from people who want to change their children's surname after a divorce, to people who experience difficulties in practicing their profession due to their name. The example RTL used here is a optician who doesn't want to be called Schele, a word that can translate to 'squint' or 'cross-eyed' in English.

A spokesperson for Justis could not give RTL an explanation for the increase in name changes, but the figures show that the most changes over the past years were made by people who wanted to adopt their mother's surname instead of their father's. Almost a hundred ridiculous surnames and 14 misspelled surnames were also changed over the past years. 

Changing your name in the Netherlands is not an easy process. In addition to having to meet a whole list of conditions, you also have to pay 835 euros. "The name change fee covers the costs", a Justis spokesperson said to RTL. According to him, it is especially difficult and expensive to implement the changes correctly in government administrations. "For victims of incest who suffer psychological discomfort from their name, the name change is free of charge", the spokesperson added. 

According to the Dutch Family Bank, the Netherlands has around 300 thousand different surnames, from Aafjes to Zzamouri. De Jong is the most common surname in the Netherlands - in 2007 almost 84 thousand people bore that name. 

Some surnames are becoming less common due to name changes, according to RTL. For example, in 1947 there were 562 people in the Netherlands with the originally Frisian surname Poepjes. In 2007 only 286 people still bore that name. And the surname 'de Dood', which translates to 'Death', decreased from 347 in 1947 to 291 in 2007. 

The number of different surnames in the Netherlands increased considerably in the last 50 years, mainly thanks to immigration. For example, not a single Netherlands resident was called Yilmaz in 1947. In 2007 over 4,600 Dutch bore that surname. The Netherlands also now has hundreds of residents with the surnames Chueng, Wong, and Nguyen.