Naming Laws in Each U.S. State

Man asking about naming laws in each U.S state

Baby naming trends are constantly changing, and new parents often want to give their child a unique name. However, there are naming regulations that parents must follow when choosing a name for their baby.

Naming rules are different depending on the state the child is born in. Parents must adhere to these regulations, otherwise they may not be able to get a birth certificate for their child.

To make sure that your baby’s name complies with the rules, you should read up on the naming laws for your state and make sure that your baby’s name is allowed.

U.S. Naming Regulations

Before you pick out a name for your new baby, it’s important to learn the naming laws that apply in your location. For example, do you know if your particular state has a limit on how many middle names an individual can have?

While there are actually very few naming rules, and you have a fair amount of freedom to customize your baby’s name, there are some laws that have been into place for very practical purposes.

To answer the previous question, there is no defined limit on how many middle names you can have, however, most states have a character limit for names. In addition, numbers are not allowed in names in the majority of U.S. states.

Naming Restrictions in the U.S.

In some states, like Kentucky, anything goes. There are no naming restrictions whatsoever. However, most states have some practical rules, for example, parents cannot includes numbers, trademarks, or emojis in their child’s name.

Many of these naming laws exist because of the software used to keep official birth records. For example, states may limit the number of characters that can be used, since longer names would not be able to be recorded in the computer system.

The same goes for numbers and pictures (no emojis), as there would be no way to input those characters.

Other laws are designed to protect children from receiving names with obscenities or names that are associated with people who are universally negatively viewed, such as Adolf Hitler.

Common naming restrictions include:

  • Derogatory or obscene terms
  • Offensive or famous names
  • Foreign characters
  • Numbers
  • Diacritical marks
  • Hyphens, asterisks, and apostrophes

So, in many states, you cannot name your child anything resembling the following:

Birth Certificate Naming Rules

In most states, parents are required to give their child a minimum of two names on their birth certificate, a first name and a surname. While some states allow married parents to use the mother’s maiden name, or a combination of the parents’ last names, others require the use of the father’s surname if the parents are married.

Additionally, some states do allow accent marks or non-English letters, including Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas, North Carolina, and Oregon. In other states, however, this is not allowed, and many citizens are required to enter their name on their vital records without the accent or non-English symbol.

This can cause an issue, since the name on their official documents is spelled differently than the name they use in everyday life. For example, an individual may go by Aña, but their IDs all say Ana. Problems like these have increased as immigration rates have risen. Many countries use letters that are not found in the English alphabet, and their words and letters frequently make use of accent marks. In addition, many people who are born in America, but have a different ethnicity, desire to incorporate more of their heritage into their lives. However, the conditions for naming may prevent them from giving their children more traditional names from their family’s home country.

Naming Rules by State

The following table contains information on each state’s rules for naming. For more details, click the name of the state to see the contact information for their Vital Records Office.

StateNaming regulations
ArkansasApostrophes, hyphens, and spaces are allowed, but they cannot be used consecutively.
CaliforniaNo derogatory or obscene names, pictographs, or non-English characters.
FloridaParents must sign an agreement establishing their child’s first name, otherwise they will be named by the court.
GeorgiaNo accents or symbols of any kind.
IllinoisNo restrictions.
MichiganNo non-English characters.
MississippiUnless otherwise requested, the child of a married couple will automatically be given the father’s surname.
New JerseyNo numbers, symbols, or obscene names.
New YorkFirst and middle names limited to 30 characters each, last names limited to 40 characters. No numbers or symbols.
North CarolinaThe only symbols allowed are accent marks, hyphens, and tildes (ñ).
OhioHyphens, apostrophes, and spaces are okay, but numbers are not allowed.
TexasThe full name must be under 100 characters. No numbers, diacritical marks, or non-English characters.
VirginiaNo numbers, symbols, or special characters.

You may also want to read: How to legally change your name: Step by step guide

Order your Birth Certificate

error: content reserved