Given some of the names you hear called out in playgrounds these days, you’d assume that the UK is fairly relaxed about allowing people to call their child whatever whacky thing they can come up with – and you’d be correct.
We’re not big on banned baby names here – in fact, the UK is one of the more chilled out countries when it comes to baby naming. There are few restrictions over names, although the Registering Office may reject those containing numerals, obscenities or names that are impossible to pronounce. In one case, a mother in Wales was banned from naming her daughter ‘Cyanide’, even though she argued the deadly poison made for a ‘lovely, pretty name’.
Other countries are much stricter than the UK, for example only allowing parents to choose names from a pre-approved list of names, or otherwise seek special permission for an off-list moniker.
Read on to find out the naming rules and regulations from around the world – and some of the weird and wonderful names parents have tried to get through the red tape.
Banned baby names across the world
Sweden has a ‘naming law’ to regulate what is deemed acceptable. Rejected names include Ikea, Veranda, Superman and Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116 (yes really).
In Germany you cannot use a surname or the name of a product for a child, or call them anything that might negatively affect them when they are older.
All babies’ names in Germany must be approved by the Standesamt (German civil registration office). If the name you choose gets rejected by the Standesamt, you can either appeal this decision or pick a new name. Stompie, Woodstock and Grammophon have all been banned in the past.
Parents in Denmark must pick from a list of pre-approved baby names; there are several thousand to choose from. If your desired name is not on the list, you have to seek special permission to use it (around 20% of requests are rejected). Anus, Pluto and Monkey have all been previously rejected.
Like the UK, France has a fairly laidback policy when it comes to baby-naming, but Nutella, Prince William, Mini Cooper, and Fraise (French for strawberry) have all reportedly been rejected in the past.
Iceland is pretty strict when it comes to naming new babies. Unless both parents are foreign, they must submit their child’s name to the National Registry within six months of birth. If it’s not on the list of pre-authorised names, they must seek approval from the Icelandic Naming Committee.
The name must contain only letters in the Icelandic alphabet – c, q, w, and z do not exist — and it can’t cause the child any future embarrassment.
One family was unable to renew their daughter Harriet’s passport in 2013 because her name can’t be translated in Icelandic — eventually the decision was overturned.
While Saint might be an acceptable name for Kim and Kanye’s offspring, in New Zealand it is not – you can’t use names that ‘resemble official titles’ such as Saint, King or Prince.
Parents are also barred from names that are ‘unreasonably long’ – a nine-year-old was previously put into court guardianship so that her name could be changed from Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii. Other rejected names have included Stallion, Yeah Detroit, Fish and Chips, Twisty Poi, Keenan Got Lucy and Sex Fruit.
There is an 82-page list of approved and rejected names that parents can consult in Portugal. Children’s names must be traditionally Portuguese, gender-specific, and full names, meaning no nicknames. Banned names including Nirvana, Viking and Jimmy.
Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin would not have been able to call their daughter Apple in Malaysia – calling kids after animals, fruits, vegetables and colours is banned.
Surnames as first names might be all the rage in the UK, but it’s not allowed in Norway. Parents cannot choose a first name that is already registered in Norway’s Population Register as a last or middle name (in Norway, middle names are essentially second surnames). This means Hansen, Johansen or Haugen are banned as first names.
You won’t find any babies called Paris or Chanel in Switzerland – the country has a number of baby-naming restrictions, including no place names, brand names, names of biblical villains and no giving a boy a girl’s name or a girl a boy’s name.
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