Apr 17, 2015

Limiting Baby Names

Up until 1993, France had a list of official names that new parents were required to pick from. After 1993, they were allowed to pick almost anything they wanted. However, one that caught the attention of the court was a girl named Nutella. The court ruled that the name would lead to the child being teased and was not in the best interest of the girl. When the parents failed to appear in court, the judge ruled that the girl’s name be changed to Ella.

Belgium has a list of approved baby names.

Denmark has a list of 7,000 approved names.

Italian law says a name cannot be chosen "when the child's name is likely to limit social interaction and create insecurity."

In Japan, only official kanji may be used in babies' given names. The purpose is to make sure all names can be easily read and written by the Japanese. The Japanese also restrict names that might be deemed inappropriate.

Malays cannot name their children after animals, insects, fruits, vegetables, or colors.

In Morocco, there is a list of approved names that appropriately reflect 'Moroccan identity'. You can name a baby 'Sara' (Arabic version) but not 'Sarah' (Hebrew version).

Norway has an official list of acceptable Norwegian names and parents may be fined and go to jail if they choose to use a name not on the list.

In Sweden, "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."

During 2013, New Zealand released a report with all the names it has banned. A name may be rejected if it is thought to "cause offense to a reasonable person," is "unreasonably long" or "resemble an official title and rank." New Zealand has an agency that signs off on baby names.

In the Mexican state of Sonora, government officials pulled 61 names from the baby registry that were banned for being "derogatory, pejorative, discriminatory, or lacking in meaning".

The German government rules state that a name must clearly identify the person as male or female, and it cannot be offensive. No surname names are allowed in Germany, or are names of objects or products.

Iceland has a list of 1,712 male names and 1,853 female names. The lists exist to avoid embarrassment for the children, and are based on meeting certain rules of grammar.

The UK deed poll service has restrictions on name changes. It must have both a first and last name, and it cannot be vulgar, promote racial or religious hate, or the use of controlled drugs. A name cannot ridicule people or government departments.

Portuguese authorities ban nicknames from birth certificates. Tom├ís would be OK, but Tom is not allowed. Portugal has an 80-page document outlining names which are acceptable and which are not. Children’s names must be traditionally Portuguese, a full name, and not unisex.

Spain bans names that can be unisex.

China babies are required to be named based on the ability of computer scanners to read those names on national identification cards. The government recommends giving children names that are easily readable, and encourages Simplified characters over Traditional Chinese characters. Numbers and non-Chinese symbols and characters are not allowed.

Saudi Arabia released a list of names that were banned including western names and names with royal connotations like Prince.

Hungary, Lithuania, and Poland also have laws dealing with children naming conventions.

The US has fewer naming laws than most countries and is rooted in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, but a few restrictions do exist. Restrictions vary by state, but most are for the sake of practicality, such as several states limit the number of characters, due to the limitations of software used for official record keeping. Some states ban the use of numerals, pictograms, or anything other than the 26 characters in the alphabet. A few states ban the use of obscenity.