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Changing your name at the Ministry of Interior

Michael Decker
Michael Decker

Shaltiel Devorah

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Any Israeli citizen can change either their first name or surname at the Ministry of Interior and the resulting name change will then be recognized in all official documents such as: ID card, passport, bank records etc. However, it is only possible to change your name once every seven years. There are exceptional cases, in which minors are permitted to change their name, given either parental or court approval (a change of surname requires court permission). You can read about this and further related issues in the article below.

What’s in a name?

Your name reflects both how you perceive yourself as well as how society regards you. It is for this reason that a person’s name is a crucial part of their overall persona. Parents will often discuss at length what name to give their new-born child. That name should encompass all the worldly good they seek to give to him, and thus a child’s name is a critical component in his personality and eventual development.

Having said that, on occasions an adult might seek to change his name as he feels it is no longer appropriate; possibly the name he was given as a child belongs to someone who has endured much suffering or has done much wrong during his lifetime. The State of Israel does not place restrictions on changing your name, as detailed in the Names Law, though there are certain, exceptional circumstances that usually apply to minors, as explained in the following article.

Changing your name at the Ministry of Interior

Changing your name at the Ministry of Interior

When a child is born in Israel, his parents come to the Ministry of Interior to register his name. The child’s name registered by his parents is the one that will represent him in all official documents (registry extract, passport, ID, health maintenance organization membership card, bank records etc.).

  • The name change procedure relates to the addition of either a first name and/or surname as well as the deletion of one or both of them.
  • Any Israeli citizen of 16 years or over may change his name and receive updated certificates with his new name.
  • The name change process costs NIS 115 (as of January 2020).

Name change for minors

  • A minor may change his first name given his parents’ approval. If they refuse, the minor may file a petition with the Family Affairs Court in Tel Aviv.
  • Should parents of a child under the age of 10 decide to change his first name, they are entitled to do so by law. However, they are obliged to enable the child to express his feelings and desires on this issue.
  • If the child is 10 years or older, but refuses to change his name, his parents may only do so if they have obtained permission from the Family Affairs Court.
  • This also applies to somebody who has been appointed as a guardian for an individual and then seeks to change that individual’s surname as well as his first name. This may only be done after having received court approval, and provided that the individual has been afforded the ability to express his opinion on this issue, as far as possible.

Who is eligible to change their name?

  • Any Israeli citizen of 18 years or over.
  • For an adult who has been appointed a guardian, the guardian may change that person’s name by court approval. This must be done while enabling that individual to voice his desires and feelings on this issue, as far as possible.

A citizen under the age of 18 (a minor):

  • A minor who wishes to change his first name must obtain parental approval. If the parents are opposed to the name change, then a ruling must be obtained from the Family Affairs Court.
  • A minor seeking to change his surname must obtain a declaratory ruling signed by the Family Affairs Court.
  • The parents of a minor who is above the age of ten may change their child’s name if he is not opposed to it or if the Family Affairs Court permits the name change.
  • The parents of a minor who is below the age of ten may change their child’s name if the child has been afforded the opportunity to voice his opinion on this issue, and this has been taken into consideration.

How do you change your name?

  • You must appear in person at the Ministry of Interior (Population Administration Bureau) in the town/city where you reside.
  • If the requested service is for a minor below the age of ten who does not possess a passport, the child’s presence in person is not obligatory. However, the parents will be required to declare that, “Our child, who is a minor, has had the opportunity to express his feelings and voice his opinion regarding the name change, and we, his parents, have taken his feelings and age into account.”

You will need to present the following documents:

  • ID card.
  • Passport photo (preferably up-to-date and more than one).
  • Passport (if you have one).
  • Partner’s ID card attachment page (if the applicant’s name appears on it).
  • If the case involves a minor seeking to change his name against his parents’ will – it is necessary to present a Family Affairs Court ruling that both recognizes and approves the minor’s name change.
  • A fee of NIS 115 must be paid for each person above the age of 18 (as of January 2020). Regular and reserve IDF soldiers are entitled to a 50% discount.
  • A name change application form must be filled out, including the applicant’s personal details, along with the chosen additional or new name. He must also provide an explanation as to the reason for his application.
  • Although an individual filling out a name change application is required to provide a written explanation for this request, it is important to note that the registry official at the Ministry of Interior may neither reject nor argue with the name change application based on the explanations provided.
  • On completion of the name change process, the applicant will receive a newly issued ID card (along with a passport if he owns one).

Rejection of the name change application

  • The Minister of the Interior has the power to reject a name change request if he believes that the new name might harm or mislead public feeling. In such a case, the minister may reject that specific name, but does not have the power to refuse the actual request to change the name.
  • A name change application by a legal adult (18 years or above) who has been convicted of sexual offences depends on a decision of the Minister of the Interior. The minister will approve the application only if he is certain that the name change is not intended to mislead the public or violate public policy.
  • The Minister of the Interior has the power to appoint a registry official to reject a name change request on his behalf.
  • The minister may not reject a name if the name has been chosen due to the relationship between common-law couples (for example, when non-married partners seek to change their surname, or if one of them seeks to add their partner’s surname to their own family name). Likewise, it is not permitted to reject a name change application for this reason if both partners are of the same sex.

An appeal request

  • If the registry official (or any official qualified by the Minister of the Interior to reject a name change) objects to a name change application, according to Section 24 of the Names Law, it is possible to petition the Minister of the Interior with a view to obtaining his final say on the matter.
  • Should the Minister of the Interior decide to reject the name change application, it is then possible to appeal by filing a petition with the Administrative Tribunal.

Additional important points regarding a name change

  • As mentioned above, changing your name is generally limited to once every seven years. That said, if an individual genuinely desires to change his name again before the end of this seven-year period, it is possible to submit a detailed, written application to the Minister of the Interior.
  • If the desired name is in fact the individual’s former name, or a combination of the former and existing names, the application will then be forwarded to the bureau manager for a final decision. The manager is authorized to approve the name change even if seven years have not yet elapsed.
  • Someone who seeks to change their surname following a divorce, is entitled to do so even if seven years have not yet elapsed.
  • It is possible to restore a former surname or have two surnames in parallel, but no more than two.
  • During the seven years following the date of the name change, the former name will continue to appear on the ID card attachment page and the passport.

A law office specializing in Population Registry issues

Our law offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv specialize in the various aspects of private law applying to the Ministry of the Interior. If you encounter any problem or confusion in relation to the highly detailed Israeli Names Law, we strongly recommend that you contact our offices, where one of our experts will be more than happy to help out.

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