What’s In A Name?

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately … both with regards to changing my first name (I’ll explain more below) and about whether or not to change my surname and take Perry’s name … in short I decided to change my surname and am now officially Mrs Philipp (it is still weird to say that) … and have decided to hold off changing my first name for the foreseeable future … it was something we had been discussing for quite some time over the last few months and … as there are a few sides to this story … I think it’s probably easiest if I start from the beginning …

When I was born my parents had a bit of a dilemma when it came to my name … my Mum wanted to name me Mina (after my Grandmother) and my Dad wanted to name me Neda … I’m not entirely sure how the decision was made in the end (my Mum just said my Dad won the argument) … and I ended up being named Neda Tina Yamini …

sept 1987 1Where did Tina come from all of a sudden? Well I have no idea … my parents can’t remember why either (every time I talk to them about it there was clear confusion as to where Tina came from without any real agreement on how this name was chosen) … you would have thought a more sensible solution would have been to put Mina as my middle name instead … but that didn’t happen so let’s just move passed that for now …

25Fast forward a few years and I never really liked my name … I had my reasons but I’m not going to go into detail about it here … if you know me personally then you probably already know what these are … and shortly before turning 7 my family moved home and the change of neighborhood meant a new school for me and my brother … my Mum took the opportunity to ask me if I wanted to change my name …

Bear in mind I was already unhappy with my name and this wasn’t some sort of coercion from my Mum to make me do this … as soon as she mentioned something like this would be possible I jumped at the chance … and since I was starting a new school it seemed like the best time to do it … new people, new name, less confusion … so that’s what happened … my parents rightly or wrongly were told by their lawyer at the time that they wouldn’t be able to change my name legally till I turned 18 and did it myself … we now know that was not the case but that’s not really the point anymore … so I carried on through life as Neda Tina Yamini on paper and was known as Mina Yamini to all my family and friends …

20(My 7th Birthday was the first one where I had Mina on my cake)

Having said that my Dad still called me Neda for months after … even now 20yrs later I still find myself explaining the story of why I changed my name to people I meet or to those who are curious as to why my passport name doesn’t match what people call me …

So when my 18th Birthday rolled round I thought about finally changing my name … to finally have all my paperwork have the one name that I use on a day to day basis … but my laziness got the better of me and the idea of having to go and change my Passport, driving license, bank details, etc. meant I put off doing it … I figured one day I’d get married … I’d take my husband’s name then I’d go ahead and change everything all at once …

Well I did get married … over a year ago now … and I still hadn’t changed my name … neither my first nor my surname … again so far it had been out of pure laziness … and living in Dubai has thrown up a bunch of other obstacles I hadn’t previously considered …

I’d just like to point out as much as I believe in equality etc, I don’t think wanting to take my husband’s name detracts from that … but each person is entitled to their own opinion and I know some of my closest friends would consider taking their husband’s name as something that doesn’t fit in with their way of thinking … and that’s fine too … I’ve just never been particularly opinionated about it one way or the other …

3In Iran (and lots of other countries) for example it is very common for the woman to keep her maiden name in all her documents … my Mum’s Iranian papers are all in her maiden name … her papers show she is married and names my Dad as her husband … she is often referred to as Mrs Yamini but all her official documents still have her maiden name on it … it’s just not the done thing in Iran …

Perry and I have spoken about this a lot … and more so recently for a number of reasons which I’ll explain in a bit … he has no real issue with me wanting to take his name or to keep my own … so again I don’t want people to think I was being pressured by him to change my name … he just wanted me to be happy with whatever I decided to do …

So I looked into it to see what the process will be to change my name … and as it turns out to change my surname is a relatively simple process … I just need our marriage certificate to show the relevant authorities/etc in order to change my Bank account, Passport, Driving license, etc. … it’s by no means a piece of cake … especially over here when these sorts of things always take longer than necessary as it will also mean changing my residency visa and Emirates ID card, on top of trying to change my details on my bank accounts and other things back in the UK …

In theory however I have all the documents I needed to get this done without too much trouble … Then when it comes to changing my first name this would have to be done by Deed Poll this would need to be attested for the UAE to accept it … and I will need to get the same stuff changed as I mentioned above … so it made sense to try and do it at the same time …

While I was talking this through with Perry and we were discussing the idea of changing my first and surname at the same time I had this sudden feeling like I was losing my identity a bit … which is a bit ridiculous as I haven’t been known as Neda for 20yrs now … that then coupled with the idea of changing my surname too felt so absolute I didn’t know how to feel about it … I just don’t think I’d ever really considered how much of a change it would be going from Neda Tina Yamini to Mina Philipp … even just seeing it written down in a sentence feels like a massive change …

We did discuss at one point even the idea of Perry taking my surname (not unheard of and why not talk about it … if were talking about changing names its worth considering all options) … but while he had no issues with the idea of it in principal he didn’t want to change his name as he is the last male member in his family who is in a position to carry on the Philipp name … much like how my brother is the last in my Dad’s family to carry on the Yamini name … I never even considered the idea of double barreling my surname cause that just doesn’t work with our two names … it just doesn’t roll off the tongue quite right …

Ultimately what it boils down to is that I want to take Perry’s surname … I want us to have the same name … I want to have the same name as our children (when we eventually have them) … and from a more practical perspective it will be much easier and less of a headache for me to travel with any future children, without Perry, if we have the same name … I’m not saying it’s not possible just that it would be easier …

I have spoken to a few family members about this since Perry and I started to think about it more seriously earlier this year … and a couple of other issues have cropped up which may influence how we go about things … for one I have dual nationality with both British and Iranian Passports …

The issue comes with wanting to change my first name … especially if I change my surname too … as then my name will be completely different on two passports … this could cause major issues for me entering or leaving Iran … one of my cousins has looked into this aspect for me … he emailed me to explain that it would not be possible … apparently the Iranian Government has a rule where you are only allowed to change your name if it’s rude, the same as a siblings, a foreign name or an inherently ‘bad’ word … simply wanting to change it because you don’t like is deemed illogical … go figure!

So to break it down this is what I wanted to do …

  1. Decide if I’m going to change my first name (need to check what the consequences are with the Iranian Embassy as they won’t recognize it)
  2. Decide if I’m going to change my surname

I did a fair bit of research about changing names and looked online to read about other people’s experiences with dual nationality and different names on passports etc. It appears most deal with the issue of different surnames which isn’t an insurmountable problem as long as you carry a marriage certificate (or some other document which explains the difference) with you. However, I have found very little about those travelling with two completely different names under two passports. Also considering I wasn’t getting any clear or helpful answers from the Iranian Embassy (either in Dubai or London) I decided not to change my first name.

I mean lots of people go through life being called a different name than the one in their passport. A couple of my cousins and my Dad even are known by different names, than their official ones. At the end of the day which matters more, what people call you on a day to day basis? Or what is written on a bit of paper?

So as we were going to be back in the UK this summer, I decided to take the plunge and officially change my surname … I had to get a new British Passport anyway and doing it from Dubai would take 6 weeks whereas in London I can opt for a one day service which I preferred … Following that it was a matter of visiting the banks where I have accounts … showing them my paperwork and filling out a few forms … and posting off for a new driving license (my current one is expiring soon anyway) … All rather painless actually and only took a couple hours to do …

photo(my old passport was so worn you couldn’t even tell which country it was for)

Now we are back in Dubai I have to update my Residency visa, UAE Driving License, Emirates ID, and bank accounts … something that I fear is going to be more complicated and time consuming than I’d like …

So that is it really … I basically did half of what I wanted to do … I’m happy I did it and maybe some day in the future I’ll change my first name too … but in all honesty I don’t think it matters … I am called by the name I want to be called and that is what is most important to me …

Has anyone else been through something like this? I couldn’t find too much online about it so I’d love to hear from others who have experienced the same sort of things …

I apologise for the length of this post and if you have gotten this far then I appreciate you so much for sticking with it …

Till next time …

Mina X

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One thought on “What’s In A Name?

  1. Pingback: Weekly Roundup … New York – The Trip That Almost Didn’t Happen … (& More Socks … Of Course!) | Our Adventures In The Middle East

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