Naming right: Which first name am I allowed to give my child?

Pumuckl, Hanswurst or Flipper - may parents call your baby that?

In Germany the choice of the first name is relatively restricted. While in America, for example, children can be called car brands, cities, months or comic heroes, this is usually not allowed in Germany.

When registering, the registry office decides whether the first name desired by the parents violates the child's right to privacy. Of course this is a very inaccurate unit of measure and sometimes a matter of personal taste.

As more and more parents look for a unique and original name for their child, the first-name dispute between parents and authority often ends in a court of law. This must decide between two principles: On the one hand, no family names, geographical names or titles of nobility may be entered as first names in Germany. On the other hand, you can claim names that are familiar as first names anywhere in the world. In other countries, however, different rules apply. So it gets complicated when someone in Germany wants to call his son or daughter Mississippi, which certainly does not pose a problem in the southern states of the USA.

Which first names are allowed?

So there is no clear definition. But there are, after all, some guidelines and guidelines, including through court judgments. Here are a few more general principles:

  • The child's first name must indicate gender. For example, Kim may be a boy or a girl, so the child needs a middle name that clearly indicates a gender.
  • Given names should not be offensive or ridiculous. This violates the child's right to privacy.
  • Twelve first names are too much and must be limited to five, the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court ruled.
  • The common short form of a given name is allowed, however, not so. Tina is a short form of Katharina, Trinchen would be the Koseform.
  • Biblical names with negative associations are not allowed, but saints and other Bible names are. Cain and Judas are not recognized. But Jesus is now allowed to call his child, also because it is a common name in Spain and South America. With a second name, boys may also be called Maria, if that pleases the parents.
  • Brand names, titles of nobility, names of towns, cities and surnames are not allowed. However, for example, Anderson is a family name for us, but a first name in Sweden.Therefore one may give this name to his child. Also with the brand names there are exceptions. For example, children have been named Persil or Sunil. Even brand names that are identical with first names may be given to the child.
  • The spelling of the name results from the rules of spelling. A first name from a foreign culture is to be provided with the appropriate accents or special characters.

In Austria almost exactly the same rules apply as in Germany, with some exceptions:

  • There is no numerical limitation of the first names
  • The legal basis is Austrian Civil Status Law
  • Registrars are guided by the International Handbook the first name

How can I find out if our favored first name is allowed or forbidden?

If you want to have a fancy name for your child, then you may have to submit a statement to the registry office that this name is legal. Such confirmation can be obtained from the name research center at the University of Leipzig, among others. And at the Gesellschaft für Deutsche Sprache. The cost is between 30 and 60 euros.

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