For some time concerns have been raised, led primarily by Mr Lawrence Dimech, who is a member on the Council for Maltese Living Abroad representing the State of NSW, Australia, on the absurd situation that had arisen regarding Christian names on official Maltese documents, such as passports.
These names (typically in Italian) were taken from the birth certificate and often bore no resemblance to the English version of the name that had been used by the individual for several decades, even on official documents, including passports previously issued by the Malta Government.
The recent insistence by Maltese authorities on accepting only the original name in Italian on new passports has caused considerable frustration and inconvenience to individuals, particularly those residing in English-speaking countries, causing significant problem when travelling because of the name mismatch.
A Legal Notice was issued last year (L.N. 311 of 2012) to change the stringent requirements relating to names on official identification documents. This L.N. amends Article 278A of the Civil Code by adding a new subarticle (2) which states that:
“It shall be lawful for any person to request the Director of the Public Registry, by means of a signed declaration …, to make an annotation in his act of birth in order to:
- correct any minor spelling variations to his name;
- choose a “to be called name” from among those given to him at birth.
Provided that the use of the “to be called name” results from another act of civil status of such person or from a Maltese identity card or passport.”
This concession applies only to acts of civil status or Maltese identification document or passport issued prior to 1st December 2012.
This change came into effect on 1st January 2013.
This is a very welcome change and is a credit to the legislators who have shown that they are responsive to the needs of Maltese living abroad.