Strict Swedish laws over baby names hit international parents

Strict rules over what parents can name their babies in Sweden could hit international parents particularly hard – and one couple is taking their fight to the Supreme Court.
The number of baby names rejected by Swedish authorities has risen since last summer, when the regulations were tightened.

The new law made it easier to go through a legal name change in some ways, including by lifting a ban on double-barrelled surnames, but regulations around permitted first names were tightened.

Some of the restrictions include names that are misleading (such as titles), have “extreme spelling”, or resemble a surname. It was the last requirement that one-year-old Swedish-Canadian Ford Kendrick’s parents fell foul of.

“We wanted to give our child an older name, a traditional one from my family. So we looked through my father’s family tree and found Ford there. We thought that name was really cool and wanted to bring it back,” Joeseph Kendrick told The Local.

“We didn’t even think twice about that and were really surprised when we got the first letter that told us it got denied.”

Although he is known as Ford among the family, the baby’s legal name is Bengt Bergström Kendrick, after the Swedish Tax Agency – to which all baby names must be submitted – denied permission for the first name Ford.

The family’s first appeal against the decision was rejected, and they are now taking their case to Sweden’s Supreme Administrative Court.

“Now we just kind of sit back, relax and wait – there’s nothing more we can do,” said Kendrick.

In 2007, a couple in Sweden was banned from calling their daughter Metallica (a decision later overturned), while authorities in another part of Sweden allowed a baby boy to be called Google. Other controversial names rejected by the agency have included Q, Token and Michael Jackson.