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What is the difference between surname family name and surname at birth earlier family name?

When a child is born, a birth certificate is created for the child. On the birth certificate the child's name must be entered and this is the NAME AT BIRTH or SURNAME AT BIRTH. It consists of a given name and a family name. The family name in most cases comes from the father but if the father is unknown or the parents are not married at the time of child's birth, the child may get the mother's family name. So the child gets the name of some family (father's or mother's) but since it happens at birth it is called the NAME AT BIRTH. No need to mention that such name can be one only and it is recorded for the rest of child's life.

Then later on in life a person may change his/her name (called SURNAME or FAMILY NAME) for different reasons and a number of times. If the woman gets married she usually changes her name for the one of her husband. Then she has the husband's surname or family name and this name will be different from her SURNAME AT BIRTH. A man may also change his surname or family name because he does not like the spelling or for any other reason and then his surname or family name will be different from his SURNAME AT BIRTH.

When filling out any application there is a field asking for SURNAME/FAMILY NAME (any application for naturalisation of English speaking countries). A person must write down his/her name that they have at that time. This is their FAMILY NAME then. But below there is a field asking for SURNAME AT BIRTH so there is no doubt who is the appilicant. There can be only one unique name at birth for this person and it cannot be confused with the many family names he/she may have during their long lives.

So again, a person may have a couple of different family names within the span of life but only one name or surname at birth.

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