By Christos ILIOPOULOS*
For the application to obtain Greek citizenship, consistency in the spelling of names in different certificates ις one of the main preconditions Greek authorities check. The same person must be stated in the same way in more than one documents, so that the administration which is processing the citizenship application is convinced that it is the same person who was born at a specific place at a specific date with specific parents, and subsequently it is the same person who is married many years down the road and then, it is the same person who has children.
If the name is not spelled the same way in the fundamental certificates of birth of parent, marriage of parent and birth of child – applicant for citizenship, the Greek administration will advice that they are not convinced that it is the same person. The examination of a Greek citizenship application is based on the axiom that it must be proven that it is the same Greek citizen who first was born in Greece, then was married and subsequently gave birth to children, in order the children or even the grandchildren to be entitled to obtain the citizenship. If the name of the “original” Greek – born person is written in different ways in these certificates, the processing authority very often rejects the application because, according to them, the chain of birth, marriage, birth of children etc. is broken.
When Christos Loukopoulos was born in Greece, but was married in Australia as Chris Loukas, the Greek administration may accept (with difficulty) that Christos and Chris is the same person, but they will not accept that Loukopoulos and Loukas is the same person. If in the birth certificate of his children in Australia, the name of the father is written as Chris James Loukas, perhaps because his father was Dimitrios, it will not help either to establish that his children are the children of the original Christos Loukopoulos and are thus entitled to the Greek passport, because they will see in the file certificates with three different versions of the name of the same person, 1) Christos Loukopoulos, 2) Chris Loukas and 3) Chris James Loukas.
Two inconsistencies that perplex and often “kill” a citizenship application, are the middle name variations and the difference of name between birth certificate and passport for the same person. First, the middle name is something which does not exist in Greece. No one has a middle name. In few occasions, people may have a double first name, but the middle name is difficult to “transfer” to the Greek registration system. Usually, the official translator of the certificates makes the middle name as part of a two – name first name, or the translator puts the middle name as the father name of the person, since in many occasions, the middle name in a foreign country is the father name in Greece.
The other main problem is sometimes the difference between the name in the birth certificate and the passport. The same person was born as Fotios Karavasilis in the US, but today, when he is 45 y.o., his US passport states Frank Karavasilis. In Greece, the birth name and the passport name are always the same and if you change your name officially with a court order or an administrative decision, it changes everywhere. In the case of Fotios and Frank, the administration will not accept that it is the same person, that is why they will reject the citizenship application stating that the present applicant, who was identified by his passport as Frank, is not the person who was born to Greek parents, because the birth certificate states Fotios.
Anyone who wants to apply for the Greek citizenship, therefore, must have in mind the above realities and try to harmonize how his or her name is spelled in the most basic certificates, which prove his/her birth, his/her marriage and the birth of his/her children, as well as his/her present identity with the passport. In many cases, the foreign certificates can be modified in the foreign country, in a way that the name of the person is written the same way in all the certificates, something which will open the way for the Greek citizenship and the European passport.
*Christos ILIOPOULOS, attorney at
the Supreme Court of Greece , LL.M.