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Baby Naming Laws In Germany Posted by on Apr 29, 2020 in Children, Culture

Guten Tag! Today I thought we’d look at Germany’s baby naming laws.

Firstly, what is a naming law? A naming law places restrictions upon what parents can call their children. These differ from country to country, with some countries having more relaxed laws than others. For that reason, I thought it would be interesting to look at what the baby naming laws are in Germany.

image: pixabay

In Germany, there are three rules when it comes to naming your baby:

  1. Previously, the rule was that a baby’s first name had to indicate their gender clearly, and if it didn’t, then either the name had to be changed or a second, gender-specific name had to be added. However, this is no longer the case, and names can be gender-neutral.
  2. Your baby’s name cannot be a surname, product, or object.
  3. Lastly, you cannot name your baby 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.

Most German parents pick simple names because these are guaranteed to be accepted, thus making the process quick and hassle-free. If one or both parents are from a different country and opt for a name native to their home country, then the relevant foreign embassy will be consulted for this name.

I wrote a post a little while back about common baby names in Germany, if you’re interested!

Baby names that have been previously rejected in Germany include: Matti (gender not clear), Kohl (possibly because it’s a surname, or because it means cabbage), Stompie (gender not clear/not clear as a first name), Osama bin Laden (will negatively affect child), and Adolf Hitler (will negatively affect child).

In Switzerland the rules are similar, with a few extra ones. For example, Swiss babies cannot be named after brand names; biblical villains; or place names. Previously rejected names in Switzerland include Judas (biblical villain), Chanel (brand), Paris (place), Schmid (surname) and Mercedes (brand).

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About the Author: Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze and I live in the UK. I'm half English and half German, and have been writing about German language and culture on this blog since 2014. I am also a fitness instructor & personal trainer.


Comments:

  1. Derek:

    Interesting comment about the name Mercedes not being allowed in Switzerland being regarded as a brand name.
    Mercerdes of course has long been used as a girl’s name in Spain meaning “gracious gift”. The brand Mercedes was named after the daughter of one of the early engine designers, Emil Jellinek.

    • Constanze:

      @Derek Yes, I agree! I guess it must be better-known as a brand over there.

  2. Angela Serena Gilmour:

    Hi, the name given to a baby does not have to reflect the gender of a child.
    https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vorname_(Deutschland)#Namensgebung_und_-%C3%A4nderung
    “… muss nicht mehr wie bis 2008 eindeutig männlich oder weiblich sein, sondern darf auch neutral sein”

    • Constanze:

      @Angela Serena Gilmour Oh, very interesting, Angela! I will update the post to include this information!!