More than 7,000 children who were born in Belgium in 2021 were given a double surname, which is more than in the previous year.
Exactly 7,026 of the 112,237 children with Belgian nationality who were born last year were given a double surname, according to figures from the Federal Public Service Justice cited by VRT News.
The total number of births is up from more than 94,500 in 2020, while the number of children who received a double surname was up by 116 from 6,910 in the previous year.
In Belgium, the majority of families still choose to give their child the father’s surname (98,014), however, some 7,197 children received the surname of their mother.
In 2006, Belgium was reprimanded by Europe for discrimination because a judge rejected the request made by a Belgian-Spanish couple to give their child a double name, as is the tradition in Spain.
In response, the then Minister of Justice Annemie Turtelboom worked out a proposal to “put an end to a centuries-old tradition for children to be given the surname of their father, that also caused problems when one of the parents did not have Belgian nationality.”
Since 2014, parents and adopters have been able to choose what name to give their child, whether it is the name of the father, the name of the mother or a double name (parents can choose what name comes in what order).
A double surname assignment has to be arranged via the municipality, usually at birth or when the child’s parentage changes (recognition, contestation, paternity investigation, adoption).
When parents do not make a choice, or cannot agree, the current system will be applied and the father’s name will be given.