Saturday, 16 April 2016

What's in a name…, , or Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (part 5 of 6)

Court ruling
When I was asked by the French Ministry of the Interior to produce the court ruling concerning my divorce, I was unpleasantly surprised. The Préfecture in Mâcon had accepted the excerpt from the Dutch authorities which stated clearly when and from whom I was divorced, and I assumed that what was good enough for civil servant X should be good enough for civil servant Y. However, arguing with civil servants, no matter their nationality is by definition a lost cause, hence …..
After taking that hurdle early February 2016 my paperwork was most likely in order, and after that I could do nothing but wait, wait, wait…

Service Central Etat-Civil - Nantes
One day before we (on 12 March 2016) were off for a week's holiday in Paris I received a phone call from a lady working in Nantes, at the Service Central Etat-Civil, Département Établissement, whatever that may be. She confirmed that my paperwork was in order (pfff…), but that she still needed some information from me. It appeared that she was creating a complete new file, with birth, marriage, divorce etc. certificates, all in French this time, following French rules. Her first question was how I would like to be registered: as "Cornelis-Gerardus" or "Cornelis, Gerardus". That question was easily answered. Her second remark concerned my surname: however, here I was not given a choice. I will enter French history as "Van Halderen", not as "Halderen, van". One can live with that; it is always a big surprise how I have been registered in shops, with doctors, hospitals etc. Where to look, under V or under H?

British consulate Paris
Her last question was more problematic. My partner is a British citizen, and in England people are or were more or less free to change their name if they wished to do so. As a widow she had chosen to keep the surname of her deceased husband. Her passport only refers to Nixon; her maiden name Mullin is nowhere to be found. The French have a problem with that concept; it is a bit similar as in the Netherlands, where one is registered as Mrs. Nixon born Mullin. However, the name Mullin could not but after extensive searching be connected to the name Nixon, and that was something the lady from Nantes could not handle. She had a list of countries (like Russia) where one could legally and officially change his or her name, but the United Kingdom was not on that list.

Letter from the consulate
What to do about this? Well, that turned out to be relatively easy. Once we arrived in Paris we contacted the British consulate. They knew about these sort of problems, and they produced a bi-lingual document stating that the name in your passport is your legal name, and together with a birth and marriage certificate of my partner and of her parents that should satisfy the Lady in Nantes.

To be (hopefully soon) continued!

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1 comment:

  1. Bonjour
    Dans le cadre d'une série de portraits sur des personnes ayant récemment obtenu la nationalité française, je souhaiterais vous contacter pour rédiger un article à votre sujet. Pouvez-vous svp m'appeler au 06 46 22 16 54? Merci