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More Swedes changing their names

Published tisdag 29 december 2015 kl 12.39
"If it's a family name then you need to comply with certain rules"
(4:35 min)
A form used to change one's name in Sweden. File photo: Ulf Palm / TT.
A form used to change one's name in Sweden. File photo: Ulf Palm / TT.

A record number of Swedes have sought to change their names this year, according to the Patent and Registration Office.

So far this year the office has received 9,164 applications for a change of first name or surname, some 600 more than last year. The number of Swedes who have changed their names has grown steadily over the last 15 years.

Benjamin Winsner, a lawyer at the patent office, tells Radio Sweden that people are adopting new names for a variety of reason.

He says some simply want to stand out with a unique designation while other seek to revive an old family name. Name changes are also common for married couples. 

"You disappear more in the internet and social media and you need to stick out in a different way than you had to do for, say, 15 or 20 years ago," Winsner says. 

He says Swedes have eschewed taking on traditional Swedish surnames for newer, flashier identities.

In Sweden, the Patent and Registration Office as well as the Swedish Tax Agency handle name change requests. The Patent and Registration Office has placed certain names - like those of celebrities, the royal family, or trademarked products - off limits to the general public.

"If it's a family name then you need to comply with certain rules to be able to get that surname," Winsner says, "if you comply with those rules, we publish the name and we tell the tax authority to change the name of the applicant."

Winsner says the office rejects about 1 percent of all name change applications but tries to suggest new alternatives in order to find a solution.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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