Does the USA and Idaho Actually Have a List of Banned Baby Names?
Could you imagine NOT having your baby's birth certificate because the government refuses to accept their name? One couple is facing that nightmare, right now.
According to the Daily Mail, Kristina Desgres and Rodrigo Velasquez, are currently locked in a court battle with their hometown over the name they chose for their son last September. The couple selected the name Hades. Whether you're super into Greek mythology, the webcomic Lore Olympus or just saw Disney's Hercules as a child, you're probably aware that Hades is the Greek god of the dead. The city's prosecutor says the name is inappropriate for a child and refuses to accept the name for the French equivalent of a birth certificate.
The case is happening in France and it's not uncommon for countries to have an opinion when it comes to what baby names are acceptable, for example in Denmark, parents are encouraged to pick a name from a list of 7,000 pre-approved names.
If you select something different, you'll have to get approval from a local church or government. Germany has multiple baby-name restrictions, including no use of gender-neutral names. New Zealand doesn't allow names that could be offensive to someone rational or names that look like they represent an official title or rank.
The United States "Banned" Baby Name List
But we live in the United States, home of the free...and that includes what we name our babies, right? After stumbling upon several websites that claimed that certain baby names like Santa Claus, III, 1069 and @ are flat-out banned in the United States, we decided to do a little digging because we found it hard to believe parents were actually naming their children these things. In almost every case, it was an adult trying to legally change their name. Take a quick peek at those cases:
When it comes to assuming the name of one of the most beloved holiday icons of all time, it really depends on what state you live in. The rumor that Santa Claus has been banned as a baby in the United States circulates because of a 1999 case out of Ohio where a Santa impersonator wanted to legally change his name to "Santa Robert Claus." A probate court denied the request because they believed that allowing him to have the name year-round would be misleading to children in the community. However, the Utah Supreme Court approved the name change for a Salt Lake City man. A judge in Upstate New York happily approved it with tears of joy in her eyes for another.
We can't for sure say this "name" is banned nationwide, but at least two states said absolutely not. Claiming the digits represented his relationship with nature, time, the universe and nature of life, a North Dakota high school teacher tried to have his name legally changed to 1069. They said no. When he tried again in Minnesota, they also said no. Minnesota's instructions to register your child's birth flat out say that you can't use numeric characters in a name. If he'd wanted to spell it out, he probably could've gotten away with it in Minnesota.
Apparently, some yahoo from California wanted to change his name to the Roman numeral III and pronounce it "three." In the court documents, this request was denied because the roman numerals were a symbol, not a word and was inherently confusing. They compared it to someone wanting to change their name to "Number" but spelling it #. In this guy's defense, his given name was Thomas Boyd Ritchie III and we can only imagine that being "the third" people likely called him three growing up.
Many States DO Have Naming Laws
We already mentioned a few in the cases above. In New Jersey, the State Registrar may reject a name that includes an obscenity. In Texas, they put a 1,000-character limit on first names after a mom combined more than 30 first names into one long mega name for her daughter. A handful of states won't accept symbols or accent marks.
What Are Idaho's Baby Naming Laws?
A website called The Bump put together a round-up of baby naming laws by state and according to their list:
"In Idaho, only letters are allowed. Special characters such as asterisks are banned."
We couldn't find the verbiage for that law anywhere in the state code OR on the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare's website, so we reached out to Health & Welfare directly. A public Information officer told us that the bureau advises against numbers and special characters in baby names because of the administrative ramifications of a name containing them. He explained that the Social Security Administration won't accept numbers or symbols when a social security number is requested. He also noted that baby name requests like this in Idaho have been extremely rare.
From that explanation, it doesn't sound like Idaho has an actual law but those handling the paperwork will do everything they can to help prevent a headache for parents down the road.