Demand among Czech women low for removing 'ová' from surname

Registry offices report that demand has yet to increase significantly among Czech women for dropping the masculine ending. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 24.01.2022 16:00:00 (updated on 24.01.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

A Czech legislative change taking effect from this year unconditionally allows women to choose a masculine-form surname. Previously those who wanted to drop the feminine “-ová“ suffix had to give practical reasons (marriage to a foreigner or plans to live abroad) for doing so.

When the amendment to the Registry Act went into effect in January of this year it was seen by many as a step forward for women's rights, while opponents saw it as a step back for Czech grammar.

But demand from Czech women seeking to change their surname to the masculine form has so far been low according to district offices who have seen no significant wave of name changes, with requests this month roughly in line with averages from previous years.

More data on the appetite for change will emerge over the coming months. One factor still to be accounted for is the possibility for parents to enter a masculine form surname for newborn daughters on the basis of a simple request.

Early indications suggest new freedom in switching to the masculine form surname will be most popular among Czechs with foreign heritage. Those born in the Czech Republic to families from other parts of the world can find the addition of the “-ová” suffix an unwelcome imposition.

As model Natalia Al-Imamová told Právo, “I’m glad I can finally have the suffix removed. I have a foreign surname and I see no reason why the suffix would be added to it.” The opportunity to change to a masculine-form name is, for her, a chance to put a stop to the use of a “distorted” name.

Names changes can be requested in a registry office in the administrative district in which the applicant is registered for permanent residence. Those who have never held a permanent residence in the Czech Republic can request a change at the Prague 1 City District Office.

If a name change is requested on grounds that the original name is “derogatory, eccentric, ridiculous, distorted, or foreign,” a processing fee of CZK 100 is levied. This charge is also in place for changes back to a previous surname. All other name changes are subject to a CZK 1,000 fee, except for changes following divorce or following a change of sex, which are free of charge.

For the time being at least, men are not allowed to change their name to a feminine “-ová” form.

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