The right to a name is related to the right of identity of each citizen, having the same consecration and constitutional protection, foreseeing the legislation in force that, in principle, cannot be changed.
However, exceptions to this principle exist in our legal system, and each citizen may change their name, namely, in the following situations:
- Change the gender mention;
- Recognized paternity and maternity;
- Marriage, whereby the spouse’s surname may be adopted;
- Divorce, where the surname is only kept if the other spouse consents or if a court decision so determines;
- Legal separation;
- Widowed spouse, who may renounce the use of the names of the deceased
- By authorization of the Registrar of Central Records when there are grounds for the change.
The name change process must be submitted, upon request, to any Civil Registry Office and is also free of charge when associated with a request to change the gender mention on the respective citizen card. This procedure is confidential, notwithstanding the existence of exceptions.
Any national citizen of legal age or between 16 and 17 years of age can initiate the referred procedure. In the latter case, the individual must be represented by his/her legal representatives and, for that purpose, must present a medical report attesting to his/her capacity of decision and informed will, as a minor, issued by a doctor or psychologist registered in the Portuguese Medical Association or in the Portuguese Psychologists Association, respectively.
The decision on the change of name and gender must be issued by the respective Registry Office within eight working days from the date of submission of the application, if all requirements have been met. Moreover, no person may be compelled to prove that they have undergone medical procedures, such as gender reassignment surgery, among others, as a requirement on which to base the referred decision.
After the registration of the change of gender and change of the first name, the citizen must, within 30 days, renew his or her citizen card.