Belgians want a new name

A constant flow of Belgians continues to apply for a new name. Last year 1,797 people embarked on the procedure that should end in the adoption of a new surname or first name. Many of those applying are immigrants who wanted a more Belgian-sounding name.

People with silly names applied too as well as members of the public who were unhappy that they shared their name with a notorious criminal.

The Belgian Justice Department underlines that a name change is only possible in extremely exceptional circumstances: "People applying for a new name have to provide objective evidence that they will profit from this change".

People usually refer to their family situation. They have either been abandoned or are the victims of serious violence or sexual offences.

Some immigrants claim that their original name lands them in social, administrative or practical difficulties.

The Justice Department will consider each and every application on its merits. Changing you surname costs 49 euros, but changing a first name is more expensive. This costs 490 euros. In certain cases when first names are deemed to be ridiculous or hateful the fee can be lowered.

It's not yet known how many of the 1,797 people who applied last year have been blessed with a new name.