Worldwide laws: Elvis, Rihanna, Ludwig – first names that are banned in other countries

Brooklyn is the name of the son of ex-soccer star and model David Beckham. A name like a district. That would be like calling your child Köln-Kalk. There would be problems with this name in Germany. In Switzerland there is even a law that you cannot name your child after a place. In this article we present ten countries and their laws – and reveal which baby names are prohibited there. 


In Germany the laws regarding naming are particularly strict.

Germany, Berlin

The naming in Germany is not recorded in the civil code, so the parents are basically free to decide for themselves what they want to name their child. The registry office always has the last word. The officers there are of course not acting arbitrarily. In the so-called “General administrative regulation on changing surnames and first names” rules are prescribed according to which one should weigh up whether the desired name fits or not. In general, the following applies: “Offensive names or names that are not first names by their nature may not be chosen as new first names.” This also includes the fact that the child may not have a first name that relates to objects or products.

These names are according to the website in Germany, for example, has already been rejected:

  • Woodruff
  • Boy
  • Lenin
  • Schroeder
  • Bierstübl
  • Pillula
  • gramophone
  • Atomic peace
  • Satan
  • Judas
  • MC Donald
  • lord
  • Sun
  • Stone
  • lobster
  • Superman
  • Pain
  • Thanatos (oldgr .: death)
  • Distribution mix
  • Clove heini
  • Gucci
  • whiskey
  • Doll


In Portugal there is a list in which all names allowed and forbidden in the past three years are listed.

In Portugal, as in Germany, the rule that names must not be gender neutral applies. In addition, it cannot be a nickname. To make it easier for parents to choose, until a few years ago, Portugal published an 82-page list of all permitted and prohibited names from the past three years. However, there is now only a list with the permitted names.

For example, these names are banned in Portugal:

  • Nirvana
  • Rihanna
  • Jimmy
  • Viking
  • Sayonara


Denmark, Copenhagen

In Denmark there is a list of all 7000 approved baby names.

There is no place for eccentric celebrity name ideas in Denmark. The “New York Times” thinks: “Jett Travolta would be taken for an airplane, Brooklyn Beckham for a place and Apple Paltrow Martin for a fruit.” Approximately 7,000 names are allowed in Denmark, however, if one of the parents would like a name that is not on the list, it must be checked by the name checking department of “Copenhagen University” and by the Ministry of Church Affairs. Every year more than 1000 inquiries are received, of which approximately 20 percent are rejected.

For example, these names are banned in Denmark: 

Monkey (was submitted and then rejected)anus Pluto Ashleiy


In Iceland, naming is often restricted if the desired name does not match the linguistic structure.

In Iceland, according to the British “Guardian“ less than 4,000 names are on an approved list.  Like Portugal and Denmark, Iceland has a list of all baby names allowed in that country. If the registered name is not on this list, approval from the Icelandic National Naming Committee is required. Around half of the inquiries are rejected because they do not comply with the norm. These are names that don’t have an Icelandic grammatical ending. They must also match the language structure of the country and correspond to the correct Icelandic spelling. In their alphabet, for example, the letters C, Q and W. are missing. So Icelandic names cannot contain these letters either.

Names ending with “ir” or “ar” are particularly popular, such as Styrmir.

For example, these names are banned in Iceland: 

  • Harriet Carolina (C does not exist in the Icelandic alphabet)
  • Duncan
  • Ludwig
  • Enrique


Mexico, Chichen Itza

In Mexico there is a list that already contains more than 60 forbidden first names.

Naming laws in Mexico are still relatively loose, much to the chagrin of the children. Action has only been taken against this since 2014. The head of the central registry office Cristina Ramírez has arranged that all registration registers are searched for strange first names. This resulted in a list of more than 60 first names that are banned in Mexico. The aim of this new law is to ensure that children do not suffer under their name later, for example by being bullied.

For example, these names are banned in Mexico:

  • Hermione (character from Harry Potter)
  • James Bond
  • Lady Di (after Princess Diana)
  • Batman
  • Terminator
  • Traffic (like traffic)
  • Facebook


Probably the craziest name parents wanted to give their child in Sweden was “BRFXXCCXXMNPCCCCLLLMMNPRXVCLMNCKSSQLBB11116″.

Surprisingly, Sweden is the country that brings the barrel of crazy names to overflow. In 1996, a couple actually wanted to name their child “BRFXXCCXXMNPCCCCLLLMMNPRXVCLMNCKSSQLBB11116”. The boy’s parents protested, according to “BBC“ against the Swedish naming law. Fortunately, the name was then not approved. In 1982 Sweden passed a law banning all names that could offend the child and that are not suitable as first names. 

For example, these names are banned in Sweden: 

  • Metallica
  • Elvis
  • Ikea
  • Superman


Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

The laws in Switzerland are even stricter than in Germany.

In Switzerland, the naming laws are even stricter than in Germany. Here, too, the registry office is responsible for whether a name is approved or not. The officers mainly pay attention to whether the gender is recognizable or whether the child’s personal rights are not restricted too much. Children must also not be named after Biblical villains, products, or places. Calling your child “Brooklyn Beckham” is forbidden in Switzerland, for example. Last names as first names are also not allowed.

These names are forbidden in Switzerland, for example: 

  • Paris (like “Paris Hilton”)
  • Judas
  • Mercedes
  • Chanel

New Zealand

In New Zealand parents called their child “Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii”Photo: Getty Images

In New Zealand, there has only been more attention to naming since 2008, after a case ended up in court. A kid named “Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii” was so scared of giving his name away that he only introduced himself as “K”. “The court is deeply concerned about the poor judgment this child’s parents gave in choosing this name,” said Judge Rob Murfitt, according to the UK “Guardian”. The parents did not think about the consequences of the name for the child. Fortunately, the girl’s name has been changed – but it is not clear what her name is now because the child’s privacy is protected. Since then, more and more first names have been banned or rejected.

For example, these names are banned in New Zealand:

  • Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii
  • fish and chips
  • Sex Fruit
  • Fat boy
  • Cinderella Beauty Blossom

Saudi Arabia

Mecca, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia also has a list of more than 50 baby names that are no longer allowed.

The Saudi Arabian government published a list of banned baby names. On it are names that are considered ridiculous and inconsistent with the religion and culture of their country. Names that have royal allusions are also forbidden, for example a name like “Queen”. If the government name you want seems strange or inappropriate to the government, it will not be allowed.

For example, these names are banned in Saudi Arabia:

  • Linda (too close to the western world, supposed to violate her religion)
  • Maya
  • Elaine
  • Malika (queen)
  • Sumuw (Highness)


In Malaysia it is forbidden to name your children after Japanese cars.

In Malaysia, according to “BBC“So many people applied for a name change that in 2006 a list of prohibited names was published. Attempts were made to discourage parents from giving their children “unfavorable” names. Animal names, food or color names, nobility and honorary titles as well as abuse are prohibited. If you are considering naming your child after Japanese cars, you shouldn’t do that either.

For example, these names are banned in Malaysia: 

  • Chow Tow (Malay for “smelly head”)
  • Woti (Malaysian for “sexual intercourse”)
  • Sor Chai (Malaysian for “crazy”)
  • Chinese Ah Chwar (Malay for “snake”)
  • Khiow Khoo (Malaysian for “hump”, “hunchback”)
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