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Baby Naming Laws By State: The Crazy and the Interesting

Think you could give your baby any name? Some states have some interesting laws around naming your baby

 

Have you been scouring the Internet, books, and more to find the perfect baby name? Finding the perfect name can be a bit of a challenge, but before you get your heart set on one - you may want to know that there could be a chance the name you have chosen will break the law. Each state has their own set of rules and regulations on what names you can choose, here’s a quick run down of a few of those state laws you may not be aware of.

Watch the length of a baby's name

Some states have a character limit, so you will want to make sure that the name isn’t too long. Arizona limits you to a 141 character limit (including last name and suffix). New York has a limit of 30 characters for first and middle names and Texas wants you to stay under 100 for the first, middle, and last name.

“Valid” characters

if you are hoping to use a number, apostrophe, emoji, accent marks, or symbols you should double check your state laws- in many places those are banned.

Keep it clean

Nebraska, New Jersey, and California are among the states that don’t allow for obscene names.

Decide or we will

Florida doesn’t like it when parents can’t agree on a name; so if they can’t the state gets to pick the name. Nothing like a little pressure to get the decision made!

Over all, the laws aren’t to restrictive, and we are sure that you will be able to find the perfect baby name for your little one!

Alabama

In Alabama, you can name baby anything you want — last name included. (Some states require baby’s last name be the same as the mother or father, but not Alabama.) Only the English alphabet is allowed. Number and symbols are banned but apostrophes and hyphens are allowed.

Alaska

Alaska's name system handles umlauts, tildes and many other foreign characters.

Arizona

In Arizona, there’s a 141 character limit for a full name — 45 for the first name, 45 for middle, 45 for last and 6 for a suffix. Apostrophes, hyphens, periods and spaces are okay.

Arkansas

Apostrophes, hyphens and spaces are allowed in a name, but they can’t be consecutive. Also, Baby, Babyboy, Babygirl, Baby Boy, Baby Girl, Infant, Test, Unk and Void are invalid entries in the data entry system of Arkansas.

California

Derogatory or obscene names are banned in California. Only characters from the English alphabet are allowed, which rules out umlauts and others. Pictographs (e.g. smiley faces) or ideograms such as a “thumbs-up” sign are specifically banned.

Colorado

Colorado has no limit on the length of a name, but you need to be able to spell it using a standard keyboard, so no graphic symbols or foreign characters.

Connecticut

You may choose any name in Connecticut, so long as it’s “not for fraudulent or nefarious purposes and does not infringe on the rights of another person,” and it uses English characters.

Georgia

Symbols are off-limits in Georgia including accent marks.

Hawaii

There are no limitations. Even symbols are allowed, but the state’s computer software does require each symbol be accompanied by at least one letter.

Idaho

In Idaho, only letters are allowed. Special characters such as asterisks are banned.

Illinois

There are no restrictions on what a parent may name a child. Recent updates to the state’s computer networks even allow for quirky names such as “1Der” or “2-Riffic.” So far, no parent has taken advantage of this with baby’s first name, but there’s a child whose middle name is “7.”

Indiana

No rules regarding first names in Indiana! But if mom is unmarried at birth, baby can only be given her mother’s surname, unless there’s an affidavit proving paternity.

Kansas

Kansas explicitly requires that babies be given a last name and bans the use of symbols. Accent marks are allowed though.

Louisiana

You can’t name your child an obscenity in Louisiana, or use diacritical marks (so, André isn’t allowed). As for the last name, if mom wasn’t married within 300 days of the birth, baby’s surname must match his mother’s name. If mom is married, baby’s surname must be the same as her husband, unless the parents agree to change it.

Massachusetts

Only letters found on the standard English keyboard may be used in baby names in Massachusetts. So sorry, no æ, ë or ñ.

Michigan

Michigan also requires only English letters.

Minnesota

Numbers and all special characters are banned in Minnesota. Apostrophes and hyphens are the only punctuation allowed. Each name — first, middle and last — is limited to 50 letters each, for a maximum length of 150 characters.

Mississippi

If mom is married at the time of birth, the baby’s surname is automatically that of her husband. If the parents would like a different surname, the request must be verified and witnessed by a hospital rep.

Montana

Montana has no rules on baby names, but its data system doesn’t allow for special symbols. If a parent wants to use a symbol, once they receive the birth certificate, they can write it in and send it back to the vital records office for approval.

Nebraska

No names that imply objectionable or obscene words or abbreviations.

New Hampshire

First, middle and last names must be within 100 characters total.

New Jersey

New Jersey bans parents from naming their child an obscenity. Numbers and symbols are also prohibited.

New Mexico

Diacritical marks, special characters, and Baby Boy, Baby Girl, Male and Female are banned names.

New York

First and middle names can’t be more than 30 characters each. Last can’t be more than 40. Numbers and symbols are no-nos.

North Carolina

Accent marks, hyphens and tildes (ñ) may be used in North Carolina.

North Dakota

Name your child anything, but the data system doesn’t allow special characters. And the last name must match a parent’s.

Ohio

The only punctuation allowed in Ohio is hyphens, apostrophes and spaces. Only letters are allowed, no numbers.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma has no name laws, but its system limits names to the English alphabet.

Oregon

Oregon’s computer system can handle 40 special characters, including â, é, î, õ and ü.

Rhode Island

Diacritical marks can’t be used on a birth certificate. But the state allows parents to use Aña or Zoë on other documents.

South Carolina

Want to name your baby K8? In South Carolina, you can. Numbers and symbols (think: M!ke) are both allowed.

South Dakota

Spaces, hyphens and apostrophes are the only acceptable punctuation.

Tennessee

Tennessee law is silent on first names, but there are a few complex last name rules.

Texas

In Texas, you’ve got to stay under 100 letters total for first, middle and last name. Special characters, numbers and diacritical marks — like accents, tildes (ñ) or umlauts (ö) — may not be used. So you may name baby John Smith III, but not John Smith the 3rd — and no way, José!

Utah

Utah says that using marks not found a keyboard “would make applying for and receiving a birth certificate more laborious.”

Vermont

Vermont says, “You may use trademarked names (IBM), diseases (Anthrax), and obscenities, but we highly recommend against it.”

Washington

The only guideline is on length — 30 characters for first names; 50 for middle and last.

West Virginia

Only letters from the English alphabet are acceptable. This rules out umlauts and tildes. Numbers and symbols are banned too.

Wisconsin

When one Wisconsin mom wanted to name her child a numeral, the state required that the number be spelled out.

Wyoming

The official record cannot reflect foreign characters e.g. Esmé and Björn would not be allowed to be named in Wyoming.

 
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