Choosing a name

What you need to know about the names you can register in NSW.

Registering a name

Your name is an important part of your identity and it may also have a special meaning for your family, community or culture.

The names that parents choose for their child – or that people choose for themselves – can be registered with us if they are within the rules we apply under the:

Names we cannot register

Here is an explanation of the most common issues that apply to names we cannot register.

Names that are too long

The maximum length of names – including any spaces between names – that we can register is 50 characters each for the:

  • family name 
  • first given names
  • other given names or middle names.

Names that include symbols

You cannot register a name that contains numbers or symbols that can't easily be said. This restriction includes prefixes and suffixes such as:

  • 1st, 2nd, or 3rd
  • Jnr and Snr
  • roman numerals.

Names that contain punctuation in any position in the name will not be registered except for:

  • a hyphen (-) in a hyphenated name or
  • an apostrophe (’), where it's necessary for correct pronunciation or it is significant for your family or culture.

Translating languages

If your name includes characters that do not appear in the English language, we'll follow the standard commonly used for travel documents issued by English speaking countries.

For details see the International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO Doc 9303.

Names that include an official title or rank

You cannot register a name that might be confused with a title or rank that has been given through an official process, descent or inheritance. Examples of titles and ranks are:

  • Judicial, military and civil law enforcement titles – colonel, commander, commissioner, inspector, judge, marshal
  • Religious titles and categories – bishop, god/goddess, saint
  • Royal titles – majesty, prince/princess, queen/king
  • Political titles – premier, president, prime minister.

You might be able to register a name that is also a title as shown in the following examples. 

Possibly acceptable Unacceptable

Queen Mary Smith

Queen Mary of Sydney Smith

Edward Duke Smith

Duke of Edinburgh Smith

Prince Smith

Royal Prince Alfred Smith


What happens if a name cannot be registered

We make our decision based on the specific application received and whether it meets our requirements and the requirements of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1995.

For example, we will not register a name if we find it to be offensive or not in the public interest.

  • If the name intended for a baby cannot be registered and the parents do not provide an alternative, the Registrar may assign a name so that the child’s birth can be legally registered.
  • If you are applying to change your name and have chosen a name that cannot be registered, we will not register the change.

If the name in your application does not meet our guidelines, we will contact you to understand:

  • why you have chosen the name and
  • whether the name has specific relevance to you, your family or culture.

In making our decision we also consider:

  • how the name is currently perceived in the community
  • how the name is spelt and how it sounds when spoken
  • suitability of the name for legal identity and administrative purposes
  • cultural or religious reasons for choosing a name and
  • our legal obligations.
Questions about registering a name

If you would like to register a name and you are not sure whether it is within our rules, contact us.

We will work with you to ensure the name you have chosen is meaningful to you and reflects community expectations.

Related information

Life events

Having a baby

Our step-by-step guide can help you manage our finances, understand your responsibilities and find support services.

Popular baby names

Need help with choosing a name? See our list of the most popular baby names in NSW dating back to 1952.

Register your baby

All births in NSW must be registered with us before your baby is 8 weeks old. Register online now.
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