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I was born in Canada in the 80's and my parents gave me the family name Y X where Y stands for the family name of my mother and X stands for the family name of my father.

Then in the early 90's we moved to France and my parents had to do the "Transcription de naissance" (transcription of birth). There was a problem, however, because back in that time it was not possible to give the family name of the mother to her child. Hence my parents had to register me with the name X and not Y X like I was given in Canada. This made me having my family name differing on my Canadian and French passports as well as on official documents, i.e. my family name was different according to the country I was in.

However on my French "Copie d'acte de naissance" (birth certificate), despite my "Nom" (family name) showing as X, there is a mention stating that my parents gave me the "nom patronymique Y X". And now that I must renew my ID card (carte d'identité), I fell over an official webpage https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/glossaire/R10114 which states that the "Nom" (family name) is also called "Nom de naissance" and "Nom patronymique". Therefore I understand that my family name according to France could well be Y X? If this is true then I'd like to modify my passport to show my "real family name" because this problem caused many problems when I lived in South America and also when I had a son and wanted to give him the family name X.

So right now I don't know what my family name is in France. Is it X or Y X? If you could shed some light I'd be happy.

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It actually seems to be simpler than you expect.

https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F1343

There's a distinction between nom de famille and nom d'usage according to the above link.

(edit)

As @jpatokal mentions, it's in fact possible to change your nom de famille as described here : https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F1656.

The procedure is more complex than the addition of a nom d'usage.

The next paragraph includes an error

(end edit)

Your nom de famille (X in your case) cannot be changed, it's the one declared on your acte de naissance, but you can very simply ask to use a nom d'usage based on both your parent's names, which can be used on identification papers and administrative business.

Pour faire figurer un nom d'usage, à la suite du nom de famille, sur la carte d'identité ou le passeport, il convient de :

  • renseigner la rubrique deuxième nom du formulaire de demande de papiers d'identité,
  • et fournir un acte de naissance (copie intégrale ou extrait avec filiation) faisant apparaître le nom des deux parents

Ces documents sont à joindre au dossier de demande de papiers d'identité et à fournir au même guichet.

Which can approximately be translated as :

To have a nom d'usage used on your id card or passport, you need to :

  • fill the deuxième nom field of the form
  • join a copie intégrale of your birth certificate mentioning both parent's names.

Notice you may have more detailed information at your mairie, at the service d'état-civil.

(edit)

The link mentions à la suite, it's unclear to me whether it will replace your current name or be added after it. There's no field in my French passport for a nom d'usage, so I don't know whether it will be printed as :

  • X Y
  • X Y X
  • Y X

(end edit)

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I'm not sure what your name is in France, but why not try to legally change it to "Y X"? (Or "X"; it's not entirely clear to me which one you'd prefer.) Per Changement de nom de famille pour motif légitime, you can change your last name in order to:

consacrer l'usage constant et continu d'un nom, si vous utilisez cet autre nom depuis longtemps et qu'il vous identifie publiquement (par exemple, si vous êtes un médecin connu comme le docteur Dupont alors que votre passeport indique que vous vous appelez Durand)

...or to quickly gloss, if you're already using an alternate name publicly and for a long time, you can "consecrate" this as your actual last name. And the change will also apply to your children, although their consent is required if over 13.

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