As you might have understood from the URL redirection and name change on the blog, my last name is no longer Johansson.
Johansson is, along with the almost identical number of bearers for Andersson, the most common last name in Sweden. I’ve never felt common, and have never imagined staying a Johansson for the rest of my life. So when I got married last year, me and my wife took the opportunity to take a brand new name for ourselves. This turned out to take almost a year before all the hurdles of bureaucracy was overcome.
When applying for a newly created last name, you first have to apply to the patent registration office (PRV). This cost us about 3600SEK (~380€). Once that is approved, you have to apply for changing your legal name. If the first application is approved, the second can be sent automatically. If not, you have to reapply to both instances separately.
We sent in the first application for a new name more than a month before the wedding. Unfortunately, it was denied on the grounds that there was a small record label registered in Sweden with the same name. This decision could have been bypassed if we were to get a written permit from the company on whose grounds we were denied the name – so we wrote them and asked, but they refused. PRV then gave us six weeks to send in a new application, or else the paid sum would be forfeited.
After much thinking and discussion, we came up with a second name that we both liked and could agree on. That application was denied because there were 7 people in Sweden that had a similar last name – with a different spelling – but that PRV decided could be confused with the one we applied for. We again had six weeks to send in a new application.
On the next application, we got denied because there was a housing cooperative (bostadsrättsförening) with the same name.
The application after that got denied because there were businesses that used part of the name we applied for in their company name.
And so it went back and forth for about a year. If anyone thinks of applying for a newly created last name, be advised that your application will be denied if any of the following conditions are met:
- There is at least one person in Sweden that has the same name as their first name – or even as a middle name. If you think that you have come up with a unique name, chances are there is someone living in Sweden (not necessarily of Swedish heritage) having that as part of their full name.
- It can easily be confused (due to spelling or pronunciation) with an existing last name.
- It was previously an existing last name but no longer in use, unless you are a direct descendant to someone with that name, no more than 4 generations away.
- There is an existing company name, trade mark or brand name – in Sweden or within the EU – with the same or similar spelling, or that can easily be confused with any of them.
- The name is generally known as a last name in any other country.
- There is a generally known historic person or family with the same last name.
- The name is a title on someone else’s protected literary or artistic work.
- The name of, or otherwise associated with, a foundation, non-profit organization or similar group.
After hundreds of suggestions to each other, months of discussion and a whole bunch of applications, extensions and waiting periods, we finally found a name that didn’t clash with any of the above and that we were both happy with. And my wife (who is a Finnish citizen) got a part of her other language in it.
It’s a combination of words; Lumen: Latin for light. It can also be used for life. Lumi: Finnish for snow. Lumien as a whole can actually be used as a conjugation for snow in Finnish, though it is a rare one.
Once the application to PRV was approved, the second application for legally changing the name only took a few weeks.
So there it is. Frank Johansson is no more. I am Frank Lumien.