The 17 Countries With Strict Naming Laws

In recent years, parents have been motivated to find names that are out of the ordinary, looking for their children to stand out and avoid choosing classic and common names. But the truth is that not all names are eligible for a baby. It does not matter how many geek parents are around the world, or how cool they think the name of their favorite anime character is, for example. There is a line between what is appropriate and what is not.

For this reason, some countries have quite strict rules regarding baby names, keeping parents who want to be funny and "original" from spoiling the life of a little baby with names that can trigger confusion, rejection or even cause others to make fun.

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These countries seek to avoid this type of problem, which is why they offer an official list of baby names allowed. They follow the standards of each country's culture by considering, meaning (in that country), grammar, and pronunciation. If the parents wish to be a little more original, they must present the name they wish to give their child and pay an additional percentage for the name to be evaluated, then the government in charge will decide whether it is okay or not.

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17 Germany


Germany is one of those countries that have quite strict standards regarding the names of babies. Some of the rules include the following: no surnames or names of objects can be used as given names. The chosen name must be able to indicate the gender of the child, it must be possible to differentiate clearly if it is a girl or a boy.

When the parents wish to choose a name out of the list, they need to request the approval of the name on the vital statistics office, the Standesamt, in the area where the child was born. Each time a name is sent for evaluation, a fee is paid, so the process can be expensive because the staff that authorizes the names should consult a book they call "the international manual of names". When it comes to non-German names, it implies that they must consult with foreign embassies to define meanings and other requirements.

Moreover, if the name is rejected, the parents have the right to appeal the decision but must pay the process again. For these reasons, most of the future parents in Germany prefer to choose names within the list, avoiding this odyssey.

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16 France


Although France is usually one of those countries that we associate with freedom of expression and debauchery, the truth is that when it comes to baby names, they are not. In France, there are also a series of regulations and standards that parents must follow when they have to name their children.

And yes, the country with one of the most famous cities around the world, the city of lights, has quite strict standards. In fact, birth certificate registrars are required to inform the local court if a name goes against the interest of the child. The courts in France have the power to ban the name of a child if they feel that the name could lead to a life of mockery and psychological suffering.

15 The United States


The United States is probably one of the most flexible countries regarding the laws of children's names, but even the U.S government seeks to take care of the child's welfare.

In the U.S, there are a series of regulations and standards that parents must follow when they have to name their children, such as each name (given name, middle, and surname) must be shorter than 40 characters, even when the standards are 26 letters in most of the states. Nevertheless, they are flexible with respect to the gender of the name: if it is a girl she doesn't have to use a girl's name and vice versa. But it is essential that the names do not have obscene or offensive meanings, in addition to the phonetic and grammatical aspect.

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14 Sweden

Sweden is another country that has quite severe restrictions with regard to children's names. In 1982, a naming law was enacted in the country that was intended to prevent families from using the names of the nobility. However, some changes have been introduced over the years, the law specifies that: "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."

Like France and Germany, the Tax Agency must be informed of the names chosen of the children born to corroborate if it is appropriate. But if in the future, someone would like to change their name they must keep the previous one and add the new one. These changes must be made through the Swedish Patent and Registration Office, but they are usually quite expensive and a long process.

13 Iceland

In 1991 the Naming Committee of Iceland was formed, in order to have control over the names that were being used in the country for babies. And as in the previous countries, Iceland has a list of accepted given names, though if a family wants a different name for their baby they can request an approval and pay the corresponding fee.

But, according to the laws of the country, for a name to be accepted, the following rules must be followed: it must only contain letters of the Icelandic alphabet and adapt grammatically to the language. The gender of the chosen name must indicate the gender of the child, if it is a girl or a boy, and it can only have up to 3 personal names. In addition, the culture, meanings, and phonetics must be taken into consideration to avoid a life of mockery.

12 China


China has been one of the countries that have created laws regarding the birth rate in the country, especially because of overpopulation, so it is not surprising that they also have strict laws and/or regulations regarding baby names.

Nowadays names are chosen based on the capacity of computer scanners because by choosing easy-to-read names that are simplified they make it easier for scanners to read citizens' identification cards. And although it sounds like a science fiction movie, since the beginning of the year 2000 in China, people were recommended to change their names to simplify the process of identification cards. Moreover, the names must be consistent with the culture, symbols, and characters of the country, and names that do not follow these rules are not accepted, for example, foreign names.

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11 Denmark


Denmark is another country that has very strict laws regarding personal names, and this is because its philosophy is to protect children from the irrational ideas of some parents about what an original name is. In this way, they avoid children having weird names and suffering from mockeries in the future that may affect their self-esteem.

In Denmark, parents have a list of 7,000 pre-approved names for babies (for girls and boys). But if parents want a different name, they must get an authorization from the local church so that the name can then be evaluated by government officials. Annually, 1,100 names are reviewed, of which 15 to 20% are rejected for not complying with the rules, such as spelling, use of surnames as names, meanings, or because they do not indicate the gender of the child in the name (if it is a girl or boy). Children are also not allowed to wear a child's name from a different gender, for example, if its a girl can't be named John.

10 Japan

Japan is another country that has very strict laws regarding personal names, and this is because they seek to make names easy to read in Japanese. Only the royal family has just a given name. For the rest of the population, they must have a name and a surname, following rules such as characters, grammar, phonetics, culture, and meaning.

In addition, foreign names that can not be translated into Japanese are not accepted. Names that do not have adequate meanings for children are not allowed because this can affect their self-esteem and it could lead to a life of mockery.

Japanese people have a culture based on thousands of beliefs and superstitions, so it is very rare to find parents who look for names with negative meanings because a great majority of Japanese parents look for names related to good fortune and success.

9 Norway


In Norway you can not use a surname as a first name, or a middle name (this is something cultural) as a given name. It is only allowed if the child comes from another country and in their culture, they do not have that distinction.

In Norway, they prefer to use traditional and classic names, always making the distinction according to the gender of the baby (if its a boy or a girl), and avoiding choosing names with disrespectful meanings or that generate confusion for its grammatical form or phonetic pronunciation of the name in the country. However, it is allowed to change your name more than once every 10 years, while if you want to change your last name you have to ask for permission from all the people who have the same last name that you want and go through a different requirement.

8 Malaysia

Malaysia is probably one of the most sensitive countries regarding baby names. The country has several restrictions and a list of names that are considered inappropriate and are forbidden for the use of people as a given name. Also on the list of banned names, you can find names of animals, things, numbers, insults, real names from nobility, and even words that are related to food. If a couple decides to call one of their children with a name that is on that list, they will be penalized and punished.

In this country, religion and its culture are something sacred, and given names can not disrespect their gods. The names chosen for the people should be consistent with the culture, grammatically and phonetically.

7 Mexico - Sonora

Although Mexico is not a country known to have restrictions regarding baby names, in the last few years they decided to create certain restrictions when it comes to choosing names.

Many times parents find names that may sound great to them and have a special meaning, but that does not mean that other people would think the same. In Mexico, they realized that and recently they decided to create a law in Sonora (a part of Mexico) restricting 61 names such as Facebook, Batman, Rambo, and Hermione, among others, that are considered derogatory, meaningless, or mockable.

The authorities are making an awareness campaign in the country so that future parents will understand the importance of protecting their children from being bullied because of their names, a situation that can generate in children problems of self-esteem and depression in the future.

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6 New Zealand


New Zealand also has quite strict laws regarding baby names, in order to protect children and prevent parents from chosing given names with indecent meanings that may cause their kids to be bullied in the future, or names that could be offensive to the country and its culture.

In accordance with the law of 1995, parents are not allowed to call their children with names that "might cause offense to a reasonable person [...] is unreasonably long ... or without adequate justification, [... ] is, includes, or resembles, an official title or rank. " And even if you change the way you write the name, if it continues to refer to any of the points expressed above, it will be penalized. In addition, the names must not exceed a maximum of 100 characters. While in the case of single mothers, it is indifferent if they decide to use her surname or the father of the child, the important thing is that the surname would not be vulgar.

5 Portugal


Portugal is another traditional country and quite strict regarding the baby names allowed on their land. According to the laws in the country, the names that parents choose for their children must be of Portuguese origin, although for many years names of Biblical or Christian origin have been allowed. In addition, the gender of the name must be easy to understand (if it is a girl or a boy), and nicknames are not allowed.

To make the process less complicated Portugal offers to the parents-to-be a list of names for babies allowed in the country, that list has 82 pages full of names for both sexes and people can also find the names that are not allowed. The names approved in Portugal must be in accordance with the traditions of the country, just as their pronunciation and writing should go with the language avoiding having vulgar meanings  that generate hatred.

4  Saudi Arabia


The Arab countries have a fairly closed culture, severe with their beliefs and quite strict with their social rules, especially if we compare them with other countries around the world. So it is not surprising that with baby names, they are as strict as in other aspects of their culture.

The Saudi government has a list of 50 names that are forbidden in the country. In addition, if they see and heard names that they consider "too foreign" or that they consider inappropriate, people will not be able to enter their lands. According to their culture, the names must indicate the gender of the child (if it is a boy or a girl), they should not have vulgar meanings and they can not offend their culture or religion. Usually, people who do not follow these rules are severely punished in their countries.

3 Morocco

Morocco is another country that considers its culture and religion to be something sacred, for which it has a series of regulations that future parents must follow when they are choosing their children's names. And like the countries mentioned previously, Morocco has a list of approved names along with a list of names that they consider offensive and forbidden on their land.

The names to be approved must be grammatically and phonetically sensible, according to the language of the country. For example, the name "Sara" in Arabic is allowed but the Hebrew version "Sarah" does not, so parents have to take into consideration the spelling of the names because those little details can happen to be considered an offense. In addition, the name must indicate the gender of the child,  (if it is a girl or a boy), and of course, it can not have vulgar meanings or meanings that transmit hatred in its culture.

2 Australia


Although Australia does not have rules as severe as other countries that are on this list, it also has a series of laws that seek to take care of the child's welfare, thus preventing parents from choosing unpleasant and vulgar names, which in the future may affect their self-esteem and it could lead to a life of mockery.

Among the laws that apply in this country regarding names, these stand out: names can't be overly long, only up to 26 letters of the English alphabet are allowed. If the names of the babies have problems for the public interest, then the parents can not use them, and the use of characters or symbols that can not be correctly pronounced is also not allowed.

1 Czech Republic


The Czech Republic is another country that has very strict laws regarding personal names, for which it has a series of regulations that future parents must follow when they are choosing their children's names. The government seeks to take care of the child's welfare, thus preventing parents from choosing unpleasant and vulgar names, which in the future may affect their self-esteem and it could lead to a life of mockery.

During the years of communism, a Czech guard had to name his son with one of the names included on the list of "name days". But in 1989, when a new constitutional body emerged, the rules regarding children names born in those lands have become more flexible. However, nowadays, the registry office must be notified regarding the names that are placed to the children, and in the case of considering them unpleasant, they are in the power to deny their use.

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Sources: Mentalfloss.com, Businessinsider.com, Pri.org, and Momjunction.com

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