You can’t call him THAT! What the law says about naming your baby

Boy devil

Inspired by Kim K and want to name your baby Saint? Or how about Satan? Think again; turns out there are some pretty strict laws around what you can and can’t call your kid.

The naming game

As you’re clicking through Nameberry, trying to find the perfect name for your baby, you might find the choices a bit overwhelming. Sure, classics like Charlotte and Oliver are still the favourite go-tos, but an increasing number of parents are scrabbling for something a bit more … unusual. Now we have babies named after verbs (Chase), nouns (Ocean), and even adjectives (Serene?) But how far is too far?

It turns out that each Australian state and territory has different rules about which names are deemed illegal. Interestingly, the only state to come out with a definitive list of banned baby names, is Victoria. Just last year Victoria released an intriguing list of 46 names that are prohibited under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act. Scroll through the list, and they tend to fall into two camps: either too similar to official titles (Admiral, Captain, Father), or just plain offensive (Satan).

Rules, regulations, and the outright ridiculous

Keep in mind, Victoria’s list is by no means exhaustive. There are many, many other names that are outlawed Australia-wide, including such gems as Bonghead, iMac, Panties and Medicare. *Sigh*

As much as we’d like to think there’s someone sitting at the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry rolling their eyes and putting a rejected stamp on these stupidities, there are some very specific laws and guidelines in this country that dictate which names can and can’t be registered. 

For example, according to Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria, a child’s name must:

  • Not be obscene of offensive
  • Not be too long, or contain symbols without phonetic significance, such as an exclamation or question mark
  • Not display initials or acronyms, or make some form of statement or phrase
  • Not reference a public institution or public office
  • Not be contrary to public interest or contain an offical title or rank recognised in Australia.

Essentially you can’t name your child something naughty, nonsensical, or a word that’s too long to fit on a form. Somehow none of this makes it any easier coming up with a baby name. If all else fails, there’s always Charlotte or Oliver.

For full details on naming laws in Australia, contact your state’s Births, Deaths and Marriages registry.

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