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New rule lets foreigners take common Swedish names

Swedes struggling due to their foreign-sounding names will be able to reinvent themselves as a Svensson, Olsson or Nilsson, Sweden’s tax agency has announced.

New rule lets foreigners take common Swedish names
Female boxer Klara Svensson, singer Barbro Svensson and footballer Anders Svensson. Photo: TT
At present, those seeking to take a new name have to first get the approval of those others who already have the name, effectively ruling out all of the most common Swedish names. 
 
But from July 1 next year, anyone will be able to change their name to any surname already held by more 2,000 people. 
 
“I think is is great,” Ingegerd Widell, from the Swedish Tax Authority told Swedish broadcaster SVT.
 
“We will create a list of the most common surnames as we approach July next year. But you can already go to the Statistics Sweden website and check how many people in Sweden are called by a specific surname.” 
 
Widell said that the Swedish Patent and Registration Office (PRV), which today shares the management of name changes with Sweden’s tax authority, has frequently received applications from people wanting to take a standard Swedish name. 
 
“We know that there is a demand for this,” she said. ”PRV has a lot of such applications today, and it is often about people who want to switch to a more Swedish name.” 
 
Swedes with Arabic or other foreign-sounding names have long complained of discrimination when applying for jobs in Sweden, and a string of studies have found that the complaints are justified. 
 
Researchers at Lund University discovered in 2013 that job applications from those with Swedish names were 50% more likely lead to an interview than those with Arabic names. 
 
A 2006 study by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) found that Swedes with foreign names had to apply for three times as many jobs before finding employment as those with Swedish names. 
 
According to Sweden's tax authority Skatteverket, the most common Swedish surnames of people registered in 2015 were:
 
1. Andersson
2. Johansson
3. Karlsson
4. Nilsson
5. Eriksson ¨
6. Larsson
7. Olsson
8. Persson
9. Svensson
10. Gustafsson
 

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NAME

Swedish woman applied to change name to ‘Nazi’

A 28-year-old woman in Sweden has been refused permission to change her first name to 'Nazi' after the authorities deemed the name 'unsuitable', a regional newspaper reports.

Swedish woman applied to change name to 'Nazi'
According to Skånska Dagbladet, the name was rejected because of its association with Germany's National Socialist Party. Photo: Bengt Olof Åradsson/Wikimedia Commons
The woman, from the village of Tyringe, which is known more for its medieval church than far-right activity, made the application earlier this year. 
 
Ingegerd Widell, the development officer at the Swedish Tax Agency in charge of registering new names, said she could not confirm the story without knowing the name of the woman.  
 
“I would be extremely surprised if anyone would get that name,” she said. 
 
The Swedish Tax Agency, which handles Swedes' applications to change their name, only accepts new names if they do not cause problems for the holder or cause discomfort to others. 
 
According to the agency, before approving a name, its officials check if it could “cause offence, be presumed to cause discomfort for the individual or for some other reason are unsuitable”. 
 
According to the Skånska Dagbladet newspaper, which first reported on the case, the application was rejected because “the word Nazi is a short form of National Socialism and is associated with supporters of Nazism”. 
 
 
Last year, the agency turned down a 26-year-old man who wanted to change his first name to 'Prince', on the grounds that it was “not a word associated with a name”, and in 2011 a man's bid to have 'His Majesty' added to his name was turned down because it could lead to “misunderstandings”.
 
Another man did get to add 'King' to his name – an idea he came up with after a long night out – six years ago. But the Stockholmer, King Oliver, told The Local in 2016 that his family “still calls (him) Oliver”.
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