Is It Legal To Give Your Child A Weird Name?

Is It Legal To Give Your Child A Weird Name?

Unconventional names are in vogue right now. Celebrities are naming their offspring after fruit and cardinal directions. Modern day parents are giving their children names based on Instagram filters. It can only be expected the kids will be none too impressed when they grow up and are teased mercilessly at school but what are the legalities around bestowing your child a creative name?

Woman picking baby names image from Shutterstock

My name is Spandas, so you can probably tell that this is a topic that is close to my heart. Strictly speaking, Australia does have laws to ensure parents are sensible with the names they give to their kids. Under the Birth, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act, a child must not have a “prohibited name”, which is a name that:

(a) is obscene or offensive, or
(b) could not practicably be established by repute or usage:
(i) because it is too long, or
(ii) because it consists of or includes symbols without phonetic significance, or
(iii) for some other reason, or
(c) includes or resembles an official title or rank, or
(d) is contrary to the public interest for some other reason.

A registrar can refuse to register a name if it fits the bill for a “prohibited name”. Too bad for parents who want to name their child after pop singer, Ke$ha.

In short, you can give your child a unique name but it certainly isn’t a free for all for parents. They have to bear in mind that whatever they decide to call their child should not fall into the “prohibited names” category.

Legalities aside, a child’s name could have huge ramifications for them later in life. There are all sorts of studies that suggest that employers likes to hire people with “normal” names. They could also be teased mercilessly at school (like I was). But an unconventional name is much more memorable. Hell, I’ve lived with my name for over 20 years now and I turned out alright. Ultimately, it’s up to the parents to decide what to call their children. I guess if a child grows up and hates their name they can always legally change it.

Did you just catch yourself wondering if something was legal or not? Let us know and we may be able to answer it in our next Is It Legal? feature.


  • I work in an job where I see an awful lot of names. Personally, I don’t mind “weird” or strange names but it’s the normal names that are spelt incorrectly that annoy me. Why call your kid Rakhel instead of Rachel or Jessikah instead of Jessica? That’s just plain cruel.

  • ke – kinectic energy
    $ – string
    ha – hectare, which is the area 100m by 100m


    There is/was a case in the US of parents naming their son Adolf Hitler. Would that be allowed here in Oz?

    • That kid was also heavily discriminated against. I felt pretty sorry for the kid, since his parents were purely using him to legitimise their white supremacist views.

    • Pretty sure that would fall squarely under the quoted section on prohibited names, either as against the public interest, or “for some other reason,” which is a charming catch-all.

  • There was an Australian guy from Vietnamese origins who’s name was “Phuc Dat Bitch”. I guess some minimal regulations should be in place.

  • How about parents give their kids normal names, and if they want a stupid name they can change it when they are old enough.

    • define a normal name… and a stupid name while you are at it. you’ve made a very general comment which is very subjective in this topic.

  • Someone at work choose to adopt an English first name before I met him, presumably to fit in or something (anticipatory no pun intended): Dick Wang.

  • Meow Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow was a legal name change (albeit as an adult) in NSW
    I believe he tried for a longer name but was rejected.
    I also am guessing he gets asked to provide his ID a fair bit

  • A friend of mine was quite distraught when her daughter legally changed her name to ‘Sugar’. She’s a good dancer though.

  • I met Prince Vetheranium.
    He wasn’t royalty, Prince is a legit first name in India.

    I also played chess against “Fuatai Fuatai”.
    He was born “Fuatai” on a small island where two names is too many.
    The Kiwi immigration system required him to add a surname.

  • @spandaslui
    is your name a cultural name? what are its origins?
    (i like your name by the way, dont ever change it)
    shit, now i sound like a creeper…. not my intention….

  • Is it legal? Are you joking Spandas? Do you really think the law covers people’s names? This is one of the silliest questions I’ve heard in a long time.

  • Why would she be joking? And yes (as the article points out), the law does cover people’s names. So who’s asking silly questions now?

    • I don’t know bout here, but it’s illegal in NZ
      I recently saw the Name Zayvier.
      At least kids these days don’t have 4 Johns in the same classroom.
      Just 4 people with the same name just spelt differently.
      P.S. I get my name is rather rare here, but is more common in the UK

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