German law on first names

3d render of a happy family © Gouraud Studio – Fotolia.comIn many countries, there are no legal regulations regarding first names. In Germany, however, certain rules have to be observed when choosing the first name of your baby:

  • It must be possible to determine the gender of the child by its first name. If a neutral name is chosen, a second, gender-specific name has to be added. Boys names may be selected for boys only and girls names for girls, respectively. The only exception is the female name “Maria”, which may also be used as a second name for boys.
  • In order to protect the child, the name must not be absurd or degrading in any way.
  • Surnames, product names or names of objects are not permitted as first names in Germany.

Whether a name is acceptable or not is the decision of the registry office in the place of birth of the child. If you want to give your child an unusual German name, you should consult the competent registry office prior to the birth in order to find out whether the name will be accepted without any problems.

The legal regulations regarding first names are often more generous if one or both parents come from abroad. Naming rules prevelant in the respective country of origin can be, but do not necessarily have to be taken into consideration.