Civil Registries will always register minors on the basis of genderbased variations in surnames, following a recommendation from the Ombudsman

Civil Registries will always register minors on the basis of genderbased variations in surnames, following a recommendation from the Ombudsman


The Ombudsman (in office), Francisco Fernández Marugán, appreciates the fact that the Ministry of Justice has accepted his recommendation to ensure that the birth registration of children of foreign origin always takes into account the gender variants of their surnames.

The General Directorate of Legal Security and Public Faith, under the aforementioned Ministry, has issued an instruction to all civil registries in order for them to adopt this change in the interpretation of Article 200 of the Civil Registry Regulations.

In this instruction, in response to the recommendation of the Ombudsman, the Directorate General assures that “the systematic refusal to vary the ending of the surname of foreign origin of a minor according to his or her sex cannot be maintained if such is the wish of the parents, provided that the existence of such variant in the country in question is duly accredited”.

Fernández Marugán requested this change of criteria after receiving a complaint from a Belarusian citizen, spouse of a Spanish citizen, who, at the birth of her daughter, was unable to have her registered in a registry of a town in Madrid with the female version of her mother’s surname.

This mother had first had a son, whom they registered with the mother’s surname in the male version without encountering any obstacle, however, when the sister was born, the Madrid registry indicated that the mother’s surname should be the same as that of her brother.

The parents informed the registry of the problems that their daughter could have when she visited her mother’s country with the masculine version of her surname. Thus, they reported that in addition to the degrading treatment that she could suffer, there would also be the confusion and adjustments that she would have to make when carrying out any activity, since the rules of the language determine that the ending of the surname is different according to gender.

The person in charge of the registry did not accept their explanations and agreed to register the minor with the male surname. For this reason, they turned to the Ombudsman who, after studying their case, made a recommendation to request a change of criteria in this type of case.

Fernández Marugán advocated for the acceptance of gender variants, since not doing so could be detrimental to minors in their countries of origin because the form of the surname does not correspond to their sex. The Ombudsman welcomes the acceptance of this recommendation, which will benefit many mixed families in which one of the spouses is originally from a country where there are gender variants in their surnames.

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