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In Sweden, the "default" name of a person is the name they call you (I'm "Niklas") and the last name is your father's name. You may also take your mother's name or any name that is approved.

I don't know why I don't have my father's last name but I don't since I was about 7 or 8 years when the last part of my name was dropped. I was born H. N. E. Rosencrantz-Larsson and then the Swedish tax auth means that I couldn't have a double last name for some reason so they dropped Larsson although Larsson is my father's name and Rosencrantz is my mother's name.

Now I wonder if there could any more complication that misunderstanding of my father's last name because people assume that my father's last name is Rosencrantz. I'm not sure about my personal preference, but I think it could be less misunderstanding if my name was the name everybody calls me ("Niklas") and my father's last name ("Larsson") or is there a disadvantage for me now to use the form of my name that would "normal" because it is accepted that I am "Rosencrantz" but my father is no Rosencrantz.

I don't think there will be a great misunderstanding, and my personal preference is the name I would have if I was born and named according to the most normal convention we have: The first name they call me ("Niklas") and then the last name is my father's name.

If it doesn't matter and I want to switch, can I claim that I should be approved to switch for free since I'm switching to the "default" and I never was given the chance to have my "default" name?

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The law (which is Swedish to me) indicates complexities regarding parents with different last names and whether you have older siblings (I guess the rule is that you can't have a different last name from your nearest older sibling, if this is the same parents. If the name isn't properly registered (e.g. not done within 3 months) then the name defaults to the mother's last name. You can change the name, but you have to officially notify the taxman. However, sections 11 and 12 may say that you're stuck. They say

11 § Den som vill byta sitt efternamn till ett nybildat efternamn eller till ett efternamn som inte kan förvärvas på någon av de grunder som anges i 1–10 och 49 a §§ kan ansöka om tillstånd till bytet hos Patent- och registreringsverket.

(Whoever wants to change his last name to a "nybildat" last name or one that cannot be acquired on the grounds given in 1-10 and §§49a can apply for a license to change (it) at the Swedish Patent and Registration Office.)

I don't know whether Rosencrantz-Larsson would be "nybildat" (newly formed) -- I suppose that if someone has already gotten that name, then it's not newly formed. Section 12 says (kanskje) that a "dubbelnamn" will not be approved. It's not clear whether Rosencrantz-Larsson is a double name (would "Rosencrantz Larsson" be treated differently?) The non-authoritative evidence of Wikipedia indicates that hyphenated names (double-barrelled names) are in Swedish dubbelnamn, and perhaps hyphenated names are not accepted after 1962. The page on Karl Magnus Svensson Pääjärvi indicates that his surname is "formerly hyphenated".

[Addendum]

Skatteverket indicates p. 8 here that "A middle name is a name that you can have to show association with a parent or a spouse who has this name as his/ her surname", and that "Hyphenation between a middle name and a surname is not permitted in the population register". With respect to a person adding a spouse's surname to their original name, they state "one of you, with the consent of the other, may have the other’s surname as your middle name". So in the US, if Jones marries Smith s/he could become Jones-Smith. In Sweden, though, the acquired name would be a middle name (not an hyphenated / double-barrel surname). But this collocation has to be un-hyphenated.

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  • It is worth adding that double surnames are not allowed (there were some changes around this last year or so, I don't recall the details) so people with two family names, like Rosencrantz-Larsson either was using a non-official name or registered the second family name as a middle name rather than a surname. But no one is stopping you from using whatever name you like in private contexts.
    – hensti
    Jan 6 '19 at 1:45

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