MARRIED women may soon be able to use two surnames in a move aimed at making life easier for both the increasing number of international couples in Slovakia and partners who simply wish to keep their original surname.
The Interior Ministry, which decided to back the amendment and presented it to cabinet, said it was common practice in European Union member states. If passed by parliament, the amendment will be effective as of July 1.
Until now in Slovakia, a woman could keep her maiden name but was then not allowed to use the husband's name.
Under the amendment, if a couple decides to use a husband's surname as a common surname but the wife wishes to keep her maiden name as well, she will first list the husband's name with the Slovak ending "-ová" indicating female gender, and after a dash, list her maiden name.
If a couple decides to use the wife's surname as a common one, but the husband wants to keep his original surname, he will first list his original surname and his wife's surname after a dash.
The couple's children will use one surname only - the one that the couple agree on as their common surname.
The practice of using two surnames was banned under a law passed in 1951, said Milan Jančo, head of the Interior Ministry's registry office, in order to simplify paperwork.
Exceptionally people could use two surnames but only if they were able to prove that the two surnames were a historical part of their given family and that generations before had used the name in such 'double barrelled' form.
The "-ová" ending in female Slovak names remains mandatory, and according to Jančo persists mainly due to pressure from Slovak linguists who insist that the endings be used even when talking about foreign women to indicate their sex.
"Linguists don't like to see the name Madeleine Albright appear in print, for example, and insist that media say Albrightová," Jančo said.
He added, however, that registry exceptions were allowed for non-Slovak nationals on request through a law passed in 1994.