Birth Name Rules

Birth Certificate Naming Rules

Did you know that there are some rules and restrictions when it comes to naming your child – at least with regards to the birth certificate? Yes, whether you are welcoming a new bundle of joy into your life or are simply planning for your future child’s name, there are some birth certificate naming rules you should know. That’s right, there are legal and illegal birth names. These birth name rules may differ by state and in fact, some states may have no rules at all. However, it will pay off in the long run to familiarize yourself with your state’s laws. No one wants to find out that their precious little one can’t have their birth name the day they are born!

It may come as no surprise that names of people who have committed atrocities throughout history, such as Adolf Hitler, are often found on the list of banned baby names in many states. Religious figures, derogatory terms, or obscene phrases are commonly found on the banned birth name list as well. Besides offensive names, you’ll also find special characters, foreign characters, numbers, diacritical marks, trademarks, hyphens, asterisks, or apostrophes are commonly banned from birth names. Here is a list of names that are examples of the above common restrictions:

  • Barry 3
  • Zoë
  • T!m
  • André
  • Messiah
  • Jesus Christ
  • Aña
  • Kelly’s
  • Nutella
  • @
  • Αδράστεια

Names like Zoë, André and Aña are popular names, so it should be noted that these names are ok without the special characters!

Some states have restrictions on the number of characters in the name length or how a child is given a surname, and they often require at least two names on a birth certificate. For example, in Massachusetts a child’s first, last, and middle name must not be more than 40 characters in length. In Hawaii, a child must have both a family name and a given name chosen by a parent.  In Louisiana, a child must have the surname of the father if the couple is married, though if both parents agree, the child may take the maiden name of the mother. Meanwhile, some states may have minimal restrictions over what and how you name your child. Want to learn more about the birth name laws and banned baby names in your state? You can contact your city or town hall to learn more about the rules and regulations you may face.

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  1. Hello. Please I need to access my files so that I can
    fight to have my children back now. The adopted family
    that I was adopted by was Janet and Orlando XXXXXX they
    said they didn’t want to give me my files because
    they abused me emotional and physical now I
    really need your help and once a child reaches 18, they should be
    entitled to it but nobody give me them so can you help me?

    1. Hello Susan. We suggest you contact the vital records agency in the area where you were born to find out what steps you need to take to get a certified copy of your birth certificate.

  2. I have sole custody of my grandson he’s my son’s son his younger brother lives with me too he had his father’s name the oldest wants his dad’s name not his mom’s Madin name he’s 12 and you know how tough it can be I have his paternaty papers and proof of custody and was told at heath deptlll

    1. Hello Lugena. Each state has different requirements for amending a birth certificate. You may want to contact the vital records agency that issued your grandson’s birth certificate originally to determine if it is possible for you to change his name on the certificate. It is possible it will have to be handled through the courts. We wish you luck in this endeavor.

  3. Hellos Arsenio. So we can assist you, please contact us with your questions by phone at 800-255-2414, by email at or by private message on our VitalChek Facebook page. Please include your order number but not the pin number.

    1. Hi , what if you just found out on birth certificate has a nick name as first name on it , & I been using a different name for 65 years. What do I do ??
      Hop Ivan leave it !! This is for a friend thank you

      1. Hello Cathy. Thanks for reaching out with your question. You may want to contact the vital record agency that issued the certificate to find out what their procedure is for amending the birth certificate so that it matches the rest of your identity documentation.

  4. Hello, I have a question about my daughter. We didnt give her a middle name while at the hospital so her birth certificate was filed without one. How do I go about adding a middle name for legal purposes?

    1. Hello Phillip. Thanks for reaching out with your question. You will need to contact the vital record agency that issued your daughter’s original birth certificate to determine their procedure for correcting/amending it to reflect a middle name.

  5. I want to give my child 2 middle names.My question is will they have to use both names when at school or filling out papers or will they be allowed to just use the first middle name?

    1. Hello Danita. Thanks for reaching out with your question. You will need to check with the school regarding their policy on that. For purposes such as social security, passport, driver’s license, other legal documents etc. it will be important to maintain consistency and have all documents match with regards to the name.

    2. How many middle names can you legally give your child , in Oklahoma?

      1. Hello Jessica. Thanks for reaching out with your question. You may want to check with Oklahoma State Department of Health for more information. Please click here to visit their website.

  6. Vital check is a scam compamy that ripped off by representing themselves as S.C. Vital Statistics, charging more than stated in the agey information, getting my addres wrong, not ansereing phone calls EVER AND REPLYING TOTALLY OF THE SUBJECT TO EMIALS., and obtaining credit card authorization without proper approval. who is going to refund me and stop mugging other people as well. FTC?AG?state Agency?

    1. Hello Thomas. We are sorry to hear about your frustrating ordering experience. If you need assistance, please contact us with your order number. The quickest way to reach us is through our Facebook page at You can also call us at 800-255-2414 or email us at

  7. I’ve been married a few times. What last name should I put on my birth certificate

    1. Hello Sherry. Thanks for reaching out with your question. Except in cases of adoption, a birth certificate should reflect a person’s name at birth…your maiden name if you are female.

  8. I have two birth certificates with two different names (first name spelled differently, last name completely different). I found this out when I was 18 and changed my name on my license back then. I need to get a copy of the birth certificate with my current name but the state I was born in states they can’t find me.

    1. Hello Michelle. Sorry to hear about your predicament. You may want to consult with the vital records agency in your birth state to determine if they have a certificate on file with you the other spelling and last name. If they do, you will want to inquire about how to go about amending the certificate to properly reflect your name.

  9. I heard there may have been a recently added restriction regarding naming your child if they were born overseas and thus have a foreign birth certificate. I was told the name on the birth certificate is the one and only name they will accept for the child’s US citizenship. If this is true, it would mean I can’t pass my surname down to my child and I would have very few options for declaring a given name. Do you have any information regarding this?

    1. Hello Mark. Thanks for reaching out with your question. We are not familiar with the restriction you mention but suggest you contact a U.S. Embassy or the U.S. State Department for clarification.

  10. Question: the father of my baby Had his bio dad’s last name at birth (his bio dad’s name is on his birth certificate) but later changed his last name to his step fathers last name. Can we chose to give our baby his real last name (bio dad’s last name), or do we have to use his current legal last name (step dads last name)?

    1. Thank you for your question, and congratulations on your new baby. While we cannot provide any legal advice, if the birth certificate for the father of your baby still shows his last name at birth, not his step dad’s last name, then you may be able to use his biological last name for your child. To find out for sure, you may wish to contact the vital record agency issuing your child’s birth certificate to find out what rules may apply for your child’s last name. This will likely be the Health Department or County Clerk’s Office where your child was born. The hospital where your child was born may also be able to provide you with the information you need. Best Regards and congratulations.

  11. Can my child have 2 middle names

    1. Hello Tyaina. You may want to check with your local or state vital records office to see if it is possible for your daughter to legally have two middle names.

  12. In Md., what is law governing what a newborn’s surname can be given at birth?

    1. Hello Albert. You may want to contact a MD vital records office for more information on this topic.

  13. My daughters name is Lové the birth cert ssys Love snd the é makes it sound wayyy difrent her nsme is not LOVE it is LOVEAYYY

    1. Hello Taylor. We suggest you reach out to vital records in the state where your daughter was born to find out more about the rules with regards to allowing special characters on birth certificates.

  14. To whom may possibly read this. I am a lesbian and therefore had to get a sperm donor. Should I put the sperm donor’s name
    on certificate?

    1. Hello Peyton. More than likely, you would not include the donor’s name unless he is going to be legally involved in the child’s life. You may want to check with the vital records agency that issues the birth certificate just to verify there is no reason to include his name.

  15. Hello. My baby was born 4 days back and during the discharge from the hospital since had to give a name, I provided one but now I would like to change her name. I have not yet ordered the Birth Certificate and even the Social Security has not yet come. So, please let me know if it is possible for me to change the name of my baby. Thanks

    1. Hello Sumit. You should be able to change the name of your child since it has only been a few days since the birth occurred. You can start by contacting the hospital to see if they have submitted the application form to the state and social security.

  16. Hello,

    I was wondering, is it illegal to give your child initials as his first name? I am due in less than 90 days and myself and the
    father have agreed on his first initial and middle initial to be our sons first name.

    1. Hello Shannon. Congratulations on the upcoming birth of your child. Each state may have different rules for what is an acceptable legal name. Be sure to do some research on this topic in the state where your child will be born.

  17. I want to give my baby girl two first names Daisi A’Dell ( middle name Reye and last name CXXXXX) can I do that in the state of viriginia or will they push them together to to be DaisiA’Dell ? I tried to google it but not sure exactly where to look. Thank you 🙂

    1. Hello Erica. You might try contacting VA vital records to see if they have any information on naming requirements.

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