Information on customary use and sequence of surnames in Latin America, particularly El Salvador [SLV3137]

Written sources on the use of surnames in Latin America could not be found among the sources currently available to the IRBDC. The information that follows was elaborated by the Research Officers of the IRBDC Information Request Unit whose main field of expertise is Latin America.

In Latin America, most legal documents are required to carry the full name of individuals, as stated in their birth certificate or similar registration papers. [ In some cases, common abbreviations or familiar variations of first and middle names which are frequently used, such as "Paco" instead of Francisco or "Lucho" instead of Luis, may be used in legal documents. Some individuals may even be registered at birth with these abbreviations of variations as first and/or middle names.] Latinamericans are usually baptized and/or registered with a first name, a middle name and two surnames, the first surname being the father's first surname and the second one being the mother's first maiden surname. In some exceptional cases, children are baptized or registered with more than two middle names and/or more than two surnames. Usually there are no legal restrictions on the number of names and surnames, although the space available in registration documents including birth certificates may limit their number. A single mother may register her children with her own surnames.

Upon marriage, women usually bear the husband's first surname after their surname, with the preposition "de" (of) preceding the husband's. In this case, a woman called C rmen Rosa (first and middle names) whose family name is Núñez Flores and her husband's is Gómez Lara, could be called C rmen Rosa Núñez Flores de Gómez or C rmen Rosa Núñez de Gómez. She can also be referred to as Señora (Mrs.) Gómez, Señora de Gómez, C rmen Rosa de Gómez or C rmen Rosa Gómez. The Civil Codes of some countries allow couples to choose how they wish to be referred to, including the possibility of a husband bearing the surname of his wife in the same fashion. In the hypothetical case mentioned in this paragraph, her husband could be referred to as José Luis Gómez de Núñez. However, tradition may keep men from using their wive's surnames.

Some surnames are similar to first names, some examples being Jorge and Jaime (Spanish equivalents of George and James, respectively). Thus, an individual's full name could be, for example, Jaime Aurelio Jorge Gómez, Jorge Luis Núñez Jaime or C rmen Rosa Nuñez de Jaime (she could also be referred to as Señora de Jaime or Señora Jaime).

Other surnames include the prepositions "de", "del" or "de la" (all meaning "of", but referring to neutral, male or female articles, respectively). Examples could be "de León", "del Campo", "de la Flor" or "de la Peña". Some surnames may be preceded by an article, most frequently a female one; examples of this could be "La Rosa" and "La Roca".

Composite surnames, regarded as a single one, are also used. Some consist of two surnames joined by a hyphen; an example could be Núñez and Gómez becoming Núñez-Gómez. These composite surnames are passed on to the children as a single surname, be it the father's or the mother's. Examples of this use could be Juan Pablo Núñez-Gómez Flores or Juan Pablo Flores Núñez-Gómez. This practice may have originated among marriages between members of two prestigious families or couples which wanted their lineage to be more easily identified.

Some surnames can also be composite and regarded as a single one, but joined by the preposition "de", "del" or "de la" (of) . Examples could be "León de Vivero", "Niño de Guzm n", "Núñez del Riego" and "Flores de la Peña". Full names could be, for example, Jorge Luis León de Vivero Flores, José Luis Flores Niño de Guzm n, Juan Pablo Núñez del Riego Villa or José Javier Rosas Flores de la Peña. Some composite surnames may even be longer, an example being "de la Jara y Ureta". An individual with this surname could be named, for example, José Luis de la Jara y Ureta Guzm n or Juan Francisco Guzm n de la Jara y Ureta.

Specific information on legislation governing the registration of surnames in El Salvador could not be found among the sources currently available to the IRBDC.

Please note that only names and surnames of Spanish origin have been used for these examples, although a variety of names and surnames from all over the world can be found in Latinamerican countries.