Rather similar to Spanish surnames, Portuguese ones are divided into:
- First names – Nomes Proprios
- Last names – Apelidos
Last names are formed from surnames representing the heritage from both sides of the family.
- First names – Jose Maria
- Surnames –
- Mothers side = Almelda
- Fathers side = de Pais Vierra.
According to Portuguese law, there can be a maximum of two first names and up to four family names. Each name can be a simple one, such as Almelda or a Composite name, such as de Pais Vieria. An additional complication is that siblings may take on different surnames from their heritage, so a different surname does not necessarily mean step siblings or half siblings.
Women are not expected to change their surname upon marriage and if they do, they cannot drop their existing name. The married name “simply” tacks onto the existing name.
Men can legally change their name to that of their wife and have been able to do so since the 1970’s but in 2014, it was estimated that only 5% of men had actually done so.
Portugal has a list of “approved” names that must be adhered to when naming a child and some are listed as gender specific.