Instructions related to the notification of a child´s name

Child’s surname

The child’s surname is determined in the manner laid down in the Act on Forenames and Surnames:

  • If the parents have a common surname or a common compound surname, the child receives this surname or compound surname.
  • If the parents do not have a common surname or a common compound surname but they have joint custody of a common child, the child born later will receive the surname that their sibling already has. 
  • If a child has only one parent, the child is given the surname or compound surname of this parent. 
  • If none of the above is applicable, the child’s surname can be that of either parent or a surname combination formed from the parents’ surnames.
  • If the parent is connected to a foreign state, for example on the basis of their nationality or marriage, the name of the child may be the surname or compound surname of the parent or grandparent or both. In this case, the name must correspond to the naming practices of the country in question, and the parents must provide a free-form written account to demonstrate this.
  • In what situations can a child receive their father’s surname or the surname of another mother?
    • A child may receive their father’s surname or surname combination only if the parents are married at the time of giving a notification of the child’s data or if paternity has been confirmed. 
    • The child can only receive the surname or surname combination of another mother if their maternity has been confirmed. 
    • Acknowledgement of parenthood does not yet mean that parenthood has been confirmed. Parenthood is confirmed by a decision of the Digital and Population Data Services Agency or a court after the birth of the child.

Child’s forenames

Under the Act on forenames and Surnames, the child must be given a forename after birth. A maximum of four forenames may be given. 

As a rule, only a name that fulfils the following can be accepted:

  • its format, content and spelling are consistent with the established forename policy
  • it is an established name for those of same sex
  • it is not obviously a surname.

However, a forename that does not meet the above requirements may still be accepted for the following reasons:

  • According to the data in the Population Information System, the name is already in use for five living persons of the same gender as the child.
  • The person, by virtue of their nationality, family relationships or other comparable circumstance, is linked to a foreign state and the name presented corresponds to the established forename practices in that state.
  • The name accords with religious custom.
  • There is some other special reason for accepting the name.

A name cannot be accepted as a forename if it: 

  • clearly causes offence or harm
  • is not suitable for a forename.

Except for in special cases, the forename of a minor child may not be the forenames of their living sibling or half-sibling, nor a name formed with the ending ‘son’ or ‘daughter’, or something similar. 

Legality of names

The Digital and Population Data Services Agency examines the legality of the names notified for the child only after the child’s data have been informed to the agency. The Digital and Population Data Services Agency does not take a position on the names before this point. The examination of a name’s legality may take longer if the name is new or very rare or if it occurs in both genders. If the given name does not conform to the law, you will be given an opportunity to change or supplement the notification.

Processing time

  • 3–4 weeks.

The lawfulness of the name notified will be investigated after you have submitted the form to the Digital and Population Data Services Agency or after the parish has referred the question of lawfulness of the names to our agency. The Digital and Population Data Services Agency does not give an opinion on the names before the form has been returned.

After the child’s names have been entered into the Population Information System, the child’s Kela card will be sent to you by mail and the information stored in the system will become available to different authorities.

Need help?

The helpline on + 358 295 536 220 is open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 12 noon.


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