The European Foundation of Human Rights (EFHR) is pleased to announce that rules regulating the original spelling of given and family names in official documents in Lithuania have now been changed. These rules are laid down by the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language. The EFHR had frequently attempted to demonstrate the need for such a change.
Since 24 October 2013, the state law of Lithuania allows to use the original spelling of foreign personal names also in official documents. Until now, this was only possible in scientific publications, advertisements, and informative or specialist texts. The change was introduced as a regulation of the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language (lit. Lietuvių kalbos komisijos nutarimai), in article 3.2 which sets out spelling and punctuation norms ( lit. Rašybos ir skyrybos nuostatos). According to J. Palionytė, the Commission’s deputy chairman, a survey was conducted in Lithuanian municipal offices, which showed that their employees did not have any problems with spelling non-Lithuanian names. This result became a reason to legally settle the question of spelling foreign names in official documents.
This possibility is granted only to non-Lithuanian citizens of other countries, and not to citizens of Lithuania. Original spelling of given and family names can be used in official documents. These – according to the Commission – are contracts, cards, and legislation of public or social institutions (http://www.vlkk.lt/lit/2226). The amendment now introduced by the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language can be viewed here: http://vlkk.lt/lit/104534.
However, the liberalisation in name spelling does not extend to identity documents. The Commission decreed that it cannot admit documents which might be inconsistent with the Constitutional Court’s decision of 21 October 1999, which clearly states that “in passports, first and second name must be spelt in state language”. Until now, the EFHR had handled many cases from the area of original spelling of names. We had also appealed to the State Commission of the Lithuanian Language with questions regarding possible display of advertisements in foreign languages, and handled cases dealing with the use of letters other than those in the Lithuanian alphabet in public space and in own names (tax bands, car registration numbers etc.). On the Foundation’s website, you can find information on how to file an application to change your name, as well as the application form.
Translated by Natalia Kosecka within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.