The Government of Lithuania endorsed New Rules on the Spelling of Personal Names

The Government of Lithuania endorsed New Rules on the Spelling of Personal Names


dr. Eugen Schochenmaier

Mondonomo, Chief Scientist

June 9, 2022, 12:36 a.m.

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The Cabinet approved a draft decree prepared by the Ministry of Justice aimed at creating legal preconditions for the proper implementation of the provisions of the Law on the Spelling of the Name and Surname in Documents that came into force on 1st May 2022.

The draft decree establishes the principal provisions under which names and surnames of citizens of the Republic of Lithuania shall be spelled in the Lithuanian characters in accordance with relevant laws, resolutions of the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language, and other legal acts or recommendations on the spelling of personal names; in addition, differences in the form of personal names according to gender shall be considered. These requirements may be waived only in exceptional cases.

Currently, due to loopholes in the legal framework, there are cases where mixed families - in most cases these are children with dual nationality - have two passports with their names or surnames spelled in different ways which can lead to problems of establishing their identity.

Moreover, the Court of Justice of the European Union has held that different spellings of the same surname of two persons in the same married couple may cause serious inconvenience to the persons concerned both in their professional and private lives. The new legislation will allow such names and surnames to be written in personal documents using characters of the Latin alphabet without diacritical marks.

According to the new law, documents confirming the identity of Lithuanian citizens will be spelled using the Latin alphabet, which means that the characters "q", "x", "w" as well as the digraphs "cz", "sz" and "nn" may be used. However, the use of diacritical marks from other languages was not allowed – letters such as "ł", "ć" (from Polish) will not be used, nor will "ä", "ö", "å". For example, a person whose surname in local documents was previously spelled "Malinovski" will be able to use the form "Malinowski", and "Lavrynovič" ("Ławrynowicz" in Polish) may now be "Lawrynowicz". A person named Ana, in order to avoid further (e.g. administrative) complications is willing to have it transformed into Anna because in a given country even her original name ”Ana” is written with double ”n”.

In cases of transcription or transliteration of personal names, letters with diacritical marks that exist in the Lithuanian alphabet can be used; besides, some additional characters such as a hyphen, apostrophe, parentheses, and dots can also be used in such cases.

The new legislation will also contribute to reducing the workload of the courts.