Naming law

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A naming law restricts the names that parents can legally give to their children, usually to protect the child from being given an offensive or embarrassing name. Many countries around the world have such laws, with most governing the meaning of the name, while some only govern the scripts in which it is written.


In Australia, naming laws are governed by the States and Territories which may have differing restrictions.[1][2][3] Most states prohibit names that are too long, include unpronounceable symbols such as !, @ or # (apart from hyphens between names), that include official titles or are otherwise obscene or offensive. In 2017 a list of purportedly prohibited names was leaked from the Victorian register of Births, Deaths and Marriages some examples of which are below:[4]

  • Anzac
  • Australia
  • Chief
  • Christ
  • Commodore
  • Constable
  • Emperor
  • General
  • God
  • Judge
  • Justice
  • King
  • Lady
  • Messiah
  • Minister
  • Prime Minister
  • Saint
  • Satan
  • Seaman


Over 200 names have been proscribed by Azerbaijan as of 2015,[5][6] including "the names of persons who have perpetrated aggression against the people of Azerbaijan" (including names seen as "Armenian"[7][8]) and "names whose meaning is offensive in the Azerbaijani language".[9]


Naming laws vary from province to province. In British Columbia, the Vital Statistics Act requires the registrar general to reject a proposed name or an amendment to an existing name if the name "might reasonably be expected to cause (i) mistake or confusion, or embarrassment to the child or another person, is sought for an improper purpose, or is, on any other ground, objectionable".[10]


In Imperial China, a naming taboo prevented people from using the same names as the reigning emperor.


Under the Law on Personal Names,[11] first names are picked from a list of approved names (18,000 female names and 15,000 male names as of 1 January 2016).[12] One can also apply to Ankestyrelsen for approval of new names, e.g. common first names from other countries. Names cannot have surname character, and must follow Danish orthography (e.g. Cammmilla with three m's is not allowed).[13]


The Names Act of 1985 requires that all Finnish citizens and residents have at least one and at the most four first names. Persons who do not have a first name are obligated to adopt one when they are entered into the Finnish national population database. Parents of new-born children must name their child and inform the population registry within two months of the child's birth. The name may be chosen freely, but it must not be

  • a name used primarily by persons of the other sex
  • a name foreign to the naming tradition in Finland
  • a surname, except a patronymic as last given name
  • a name already used by a sibling, if this is to be the only given name.

Waivers may be granted if valid family, religious or ethnic reasons give grounds to use a name contrary to these principles. Persons may change their first names once without a specific reason. For subsequent changes, valid reasons must be presented.[14]


Since 1993 the choice has been free in France unless it is decided that the name is contrary to the interests of the child. Before that time the choice of first names was dictated by French laws that decreed which names were acceptable.[15] Napoleon Bonaparte created the law.[16]


Names have to be approved by the local registration office, called Standesamt, which generally consults a list of first names and foreign embassies for foreign names. The name cannot be a last name or a product, and it cannot negatively affect the child. If the name submitted is denied, it can be appealed; otherwise a new name has to be submitted. A fee is charged for each submission.[17]

Umlauts (ä, ö, ü) and/or the letter ß in family names are recognized as an important reason for a name change. (Even just the change of the spelling, e.g. from Müller to Mueller or from Weiß to Weiss, is regarded as name change. In German ID cards and passports, however, such names are spelled in two different ways: the correct way in the non-machine-readable zone of the document [Müller] and transcribed [Mueller] in the machine-readable zone of the document, so persons unfamiliar with German orthography may get the impression that the document is a forgery. German credit cards may use the correct or the transcribed spelling only. It is recommended to use the exactly same spelling in the machine-readable zone of the passport for airline tickets, visas, etc. and to refer to this zone if being asked questions.) Internationally and by many electronic systems, ä / ö / ü are transcribed as ae / oe / ue, and ß is transcribed as ss.

During the Nazi period, Germany had a list of approved names to choose from that was passed on 5 January 1938 as the "Second Regulation under the law re The changing of Family and Given names." The law had one list of names for ethnic Germans and another for Jews.[18]


A child's name must be chosen from a list of pre-approved names.[19][20] If the intended name is not on the list, the parents need to apply for approval. Applications are considered by the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences following a set of principles.[21] Children born to a foreign citizen may have their name chosen according to foreign law.[22]


Parents are limited to choosing children's names from the Personal Names Register, which as of 2013 approved 1800 names for each gender.[23] Since 2019 given names are no longer restricted by gender.[24] The Icelandic Naming Committee maintains the list and hears requests for exceptions.


  1. No anti Islamic or perverted names are permitted.
  2. No names meant for opposing sex.
  3. Those converting to Islam are allowed to change their name.
  4. Abd can be deleted because it's a god's attribute.
  5. All names are pre approved.[25][26][27]


According to a law from 1956, a person should have a first name (more than one is permitted) and surname (a double-barrelled name is permitted). Children receive the surname of their married parents or the surname of their father if the surnames of their parents differ one from another. If their parents were not married or have a common-law marriage, children receive the surname of their mother unless both parents agreed to give them a double surname. Names can be double if there was no agreement about it between both parents who at least have a common-law marriage. If the parents do not have a common-law marriage children receive the surname of their mother only.

It is permitted to change one's name or surname once in seven years, or even earlier provided the Ministry of Interior agrees. The Ministry may reject a name or surname if the possibility exists that the name is deceptive or that may be an offence to public policy and the public sentiment.

In the case of adoption a child receives the adoptive parents' surname but keeps the original first name.

In a case of person with no name, the Minister of Interior chooses the name in accordance with names of person's parents, grandparents, or the spouse in the case of marriage. However, the person can change this name within two months after the announcement.

The father's name is provided by the mother of the person until the age of 16, or by the individuals themselves if they are above age 16.[28]


Names considered ridiculous or shameful are banned by law.[29]


Similar to China, Japan has a certain set of characters that cannot be used in a child's name.


Some Kyrgyz have been russifying their names.[30][31][32]

A law to ban russified names was proposed.[33]


On and after 2006, the National Registration Department of Malaysia (JPN) may decline to register objectionable or undesirable names, including names based on titles, numbers, colors, vegetables, fruits, vulgarities, and equipment. Parents who wish to register such names despite JPN objection must make a statutory declaration to that effect.[34][35]

New Zealand[edit]

Under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act of 1995, names are prohibited which "might cause offence to a reasonable person; or [...] is unreasonably long; or without adequate justification, [...] is, includes, or resembles, an official title or rank."[17] This is determined by the Department of Internal Affairs, which is responsible for registering names at birth.[16] The most commonly rejected name is "Justice", which is a formal title for judges in New Zealand.[36] Below is a list of banned names[37] in New Zealand:

  • * [Asterisk]
  • 4Real
  • 89
  • Anal
  • Bishop
  • Constable
  • H-Q
  • II
  • III
  • Justice
  • Justus
  • Knight
  • Lucifer
  • Mafia No Fear
  • Minister
  • Mr
  • Queen Victoria
  • Royale
  • Saint
  • Sex Fruit
  • Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii


Names are regulated by the Norwegian Names Act of 2002.[38] Parents may not choose a first name for their child that may become a significant disadvantage for the child. A citizen may change their family name to any common family name, i.e. any name shared by more than 200 Norwegians. In order to change to a rare family name, permission from every citizen with the name is required. Exceptions to the restrictions on taking a protected surname can be made if you have "a connection to the name", for example through kinship (family name held by a parent, step-parent or foster-parent, grandparent, great grandparent or great great grandparent), by marriage, cohabitation where you have lived together for at least two years or have children together, or through adoption.[39]

In April 2009, a six-year-old Norwegian boy named Christer pressed his parents to send a letter to King Harald V to approve his name being changed to "Sonic X". They allowed Christer to write it himself but did not send it until he badgered them further, and the king responded that he could not approve the change because Christer was not eighteen years old.[40][41]


Portugal has a set list of names approved and not approved published periodically by the Institute of Registration at the Ministry of Justice.[42]

Saudi Arabia[edit]

There is a list of 50 names that banned in Saudi Arabia. Western names Alice, Ben, Elaine, Lauren and Linda are among the names banned in that list.[43][44][45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52]


The older Names Act of 1982 states that Swedish first names "shall not be approved if they can cause offense or can be supposed to cause discomfort for the one using it, or names which for some obvious reason are not suitable as a first name." The newer naming law (Swedish: lag om personnamn) states it identically.[53]


In Spain, people have freedom to choose any name as long as the name doesn't make identification confusing, isn't the same name as one of their living siblings, and doesn't offend the person who is named.[54][55]


The authorities of Tajikistan have announced the preparation of a list of 3,000 pre-approved names, all referred to Tajik culture, thus banning Arabic/Islamic names and suffixes, deemed divisive.[56][57]

Among increasingly religious Tajiks, Islamic-Arabic names have become more popular over Tajik names.[58]

The Tajik government has used the word "prostitute" to label hijab wearing women and enforced shaving of beards, in addition to considering the outlawing of Arabic-Islamic names for children and making people use Tajik names.[59][60][61][62][63] Tajikistan President Rakhmon (Rahmon) has said that the Persian epic Shahnameh should be used as a source for names, with his proposed law hinting that Muslim names would be forbidden after his anti hijab and anti beard laws.[64]

United Kingdom[edit]

The UK has no law restricting names, but names that contain obscenities, numerals, misleading titles, or are impossible to pronounce are likely to be rejected by the Registering Officer, when registering a child.[citation needed]

There are no restrictions on adults assuming any new name, unless the purpose of the name change is fraudulent.[65]

United States[edit]

Restrictions vary by state, and most are imposed for the sake of practicality. For example, several states limit the number of characters in a name, due to limitations in the software used for official record keeping. For similar reasons, some states ban the use of numerals or pictograms. A few states ban the use of obscenities. Conversely, a few states, such as Kentucky, have no naming laws whatsoever. Courts have interpreted the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment as generally supporting the traditional parental right to choose their children's names.

One practice that some have found restrictive was California's practice of not recording names with diacritical marks, such as in the name José. The Office of Vital Records in the California Department of Public Health does not require that names containing other than the 26 alphabetical characters of the English language be accepted. In 2017, the California legislature passed bill AB-82, which would have required the State Registrar to record names containing diacritical marks to be recorded.[66] However, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the bill on the ground that mandating the use of diacritical marks on some state and local vital records without a corresponding requirement for all state and federal government records would create inconsistencies and require significant state funds to replace or modify existing registration systems.[67]


Zairians were urged to drop their Western or Christian names in favor of Zairian names as part of Authenticité.[68] Zairian dictator Joseph-Désiré Mobutu changed his name to Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga (more commonly abbreviated to Mobutu Sese Seko).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Births Deaths and Marriages Victoria. "Naming restrictions". Births Deaths and Marriages Victoria. Victorian Government. Retrieved 17 December 2022.
  2. ^ NSW Government. "Choosing a name". NSW Government. NSW Government. Retrieved 17 December 2022.
  3. ^ Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. "RBDM Prohibited name policy". Publications Portal. Queensland Government. Retrieved 17 December 2022.
  4. ^ Dalziel, Lottie. "Baby names 2020: Which girl and boys names are banned by Australian government". Seven News. Seven West Media. Retrieved 17 December 2022.
  5. ^ "Azerbaijan bans strange baby names 'Frunze', 'Newton', 'Galileo'". News.Az. 29 October 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  6. ^ "В Азербайджане запрещены эти имена" [Azerbaijan forbidden these names]. Эхо Кавказа. 30 November 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  7. ^ Lomsadze, Giorgi (15 July 2010). "Azerbaijan to Ban Armenian Names". Retrieved 27 October 2019 – via EurasiaNet.
  8. ^ "Ban on Armenian names". Armenophobia in Azerbaijan. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Azerbaijan 'may ban Russian names'". BBC News. 5 March 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  10. ^ "Vital Statistics Act".
  11. ^ "Spørgsmål/svar — Ankestyrelsen".
  12. ^ "Godkendte fornavne — Ankestyrelsen".
  13. ^ "Spørgsmål og svar". 4 April 2008.
  14. ^ Nimilaki (694/1985) § 32b. Retrieved 3 November 2008. (in Finnish)
  15. ^ Mary Blume (11 November 1995). "The Ins and Outs of French First Names". New York Times.
  16. ^ a b "France names row: Politician hits back over criticism of daughter's name". BBC News. 14 September 2016.
  17. ^ a b "Oh no, you can't name your baby THAT!". CNN. 3 July 2010. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  18. ^ Hynning, Clifford J. (March 1944). Germany: Preliminary Compilation of Selected Laws, Decrees, and Regulations: Discriminatory Laws. Washington: Treasuy Department, Office of the General Council. p. E-70.
  19. ^ "current list of approved male Hungarian given names" (PDF).
  20. ^ "current list of approved female Hungarian given names" (PDF).
  21. ^ "basic principles guiding the approval of new given names" (in Hungarian). Retrieved 19 January 2011.
  22. ^ "1982. évi 17. törvényerejű rendelet az anyakönyvekről, a házasságkötési eljárásról és a névviselésről" [Decree-Law No. 17 of 1982 on Registers, the Marriage Procedure and Person Names] (in Hungarian). Art. 27–31. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  23. ^ "Icelandic Girl Fights For Right To Her Own Name". AP. 3 January 2013. Archived from the original on 6 January 2013. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  24. ^ Kyzer, Larissa (22 June 2019). "Icelandic names will no longer be gendered". Iceland Review. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  25. ^ "خودداری چندماهه ثبت احوال اردبیل از صدور شناسنامه برای "آییل"".
  26. ^ "نحوه تغییر نام در شناسنامه".
  27. ^ "نکات مهم درباره تغییر اسم در شناسنامه".
  28. ^ "Names law at Law development database of Knesset".
  29. ^ "Italian court: Child cannot be named Friday". USA Today. 20 December 2007. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  30. ^ "In Kyrgyzstan, A New Interest In Russified Names".
  31. ^ "Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: In Kyrgyzstan, a new interest in russified names – KyivPost". 10 December 2014.
  32. ^ "Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: In Kyrgyzstan, a new interest in russified names – KyivPost". 10 December 2014.
  33. ^ "Kyrgyz Legislation Would 'De-Russify' Names".
  34. ^ "Parents turn to cyberspace for inspiration" (PDF). The Sunday Star. 5 January 2014. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  35. ^ Laws of Malaysia: Birth and Death Registration Act 1957 (PDF). The Commissioner Of Law Revision, Malaysia. p. 16.
  36. ^ No, you can't call your baby V8: Almost 500 rejected Kiwi name requests revealed, New Zealand Herald, 1 January 2017
  37. ^ "From Dickhead to Nutella: A list of banned baby names that should never have been suggested". 3 December 2018.
  38. ^ "Lov om personnavn (navneloven) - Lovdata". Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  39. ^ "Endring av navn (beskyttede etternavn)". Retrieved 21 August 2022.
  40. ^ Sterling, Jim (23 April 2009). "Six-year-old boy asks King to change his name to Sonic X". Destructoid. Archived from the original on 26 July 2014. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  41. ^ Good, Owen (25 April 2009). "King Denies Little Boy's Wish to Be Named 'Sonic X'". Kotaku. Archived from the original on 27 July 2014. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  42. ^ "Vocábulos admitidos e não admitidos como nomes próprios". Instituto dos Registos e do Notariado. 10 July 2013. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  43. ^ "These 50 Baby Names Are Banned In Saudi Arabia". 9 November 2015.
  44. ^ "Saudi Arabia bans over 45 names -- is your name in the list?". 3 April 2017.
  45. ^ "Your name could now be one of 50 'banned' in Saudi Arabia". 14 March 2014. Archived from the original on 18 June 2022.
  46. ^ "50 names banned in Saudi Arabia; check your name in the list". 9 November 2015.
  47. ^ "Why did Saudi Arabia ban 51 baby names?". The Washington Post.
  48. ^ Report, Gulf News (13 March 2014). "Saudi Arabia bans 50 baby names".
  49. ^ "Saudi Arabia bans 50 names". 8 November 2015.
  50. ^ "Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia? – Times of India". The Times of India.
  51. ^ "Saudi bans 50 names on 'religious grounds' – Times of India". The Times of India.
  52. ^ "Saudi Arabia bans 50 'blasphemous' and 'inappropriate' children's names".
  53. ^ Riksdagsförvaltningen. "Lag (2016:1013) om personnamn" (Law) (in Swedish). § 28. Retrieved 1 November 2020 – via
  54. ^ "¿Se le puede poner a un niño el nombre que uno quiera?". Verne (in Spanish). 3 July 2016. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  55. ^ " – Documento consolidado BOE-A-1957-7537". Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  56. ^ "Tajik authorities prepare a list of Tajik names – ASIA-Plus".
  57. ^ Trilling, David (5 May 2015). "Tajikistan Mulls Ban on Muslim Names" – via EurasiaNet.
  58. ^ Najibullah, Farangis; Navruzshoh, Zarangez (6 October 2010). "In Tajikistan, Islamic Names Are The New Fashion". Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty.
  59. ^ Trilling, David (8 May 2015). "Tajikistan debates ban on Arabic names as part of crackdown on Islam". The Guardian.
  60. ^ Trilling, David (5 May 2015). "Tajikistan Mulls Ban on Muslim Names".
  61. ^ Putz, Catherine (9 May 2015). "Tajikistan Considers Ban on Arabic Names". The Diplomat.
  62. ^ Web Desk (8 May 2015). "After beards, hijabs, Tajikistan wants to ban 'Arabic-sounding' names". The Express Tribune.
  63. ^ Najibullah, Farangis; Ganj, Ganjinai; Kholiqzod, Mirzonabi (19 April 2015). "Tajiks Weigh Ban On 'Bad Names'". Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty.
  64. ^ Orange, Richard (3 June 2011). "Tajik President warns parents of dangers of 'scary names'". The Telegraph. Almaty.
  66. ^ "AB-82 Vital records: diacritical marks". California Legislative Information. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  67. ^ "Bill Status: AB-82 (2017-2018)". California Legislative information. California Legislature. 12 January 2018. Retrieved 19 December 2021.
  68. ^ Meditz, Sandra W. and Tim Merrill.[page needed]

External links[edit]