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Explained: The rules for naming a baby in Denmark

Emma Firth
Emma Firth - [email protected]
Explained: The rules for naming a baby in Denmark
Naming a baby in Denmark comes with a set of rules. File photo: Mathias Løvgreen Bojesen / Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark is a country with a love of rules and naming a baby is no different. In order to protect children, there is a naming law, which requires names to be approved by a family court. Here are the details for naming a baby in Denmark.


First of all, you must name your baby before they reach six months old, otherwise you face a fine.

Your baby must be given at least one first name and one surname. If the child has not been given a surname within the deadline, then the mother’s surname will automatically be given.


How to register your child's name

Once you have settled upon a name, before your baby is six months old, you need to go to and use your MitID to register the name. The application is processed at your local church parish, except in southern Jutland where it is through the municipality. 

You can also choose to register your baby's name when they are baptised, if they are younger than six months old. There is an exception if you live in southern Jutland, where the baby's name has to be registered at the municipality.

Many Danes baptise their babies before six months - they then get both a baptism certificate and birth certificate issued by the parish.

If you have registered your baby's name digitally, you receive confirmation and a CPR number for your child in your Digital Post. You won't get a certificate but you can request one using your MitID or by contacting your parish church, or for children born in southern Jutland, the municipality where the birth was registered.

What's in a name?

A list of rules. In Denmark you can't just pick any name you fancy.

There is a naming law (navneloven) which states that the name cannot be inappropriate or offensive or detrimental to the child, among other rules, so your choice of name has to be approved by the Family Court.

In 2006, the naming law was changed to allow for a much broader range of names so it is not as strict as you might think but it's certainly not a free-for-all.

First name (fornavn)

The first name must indicate the gender of the child, although there are neutral names on the approved list.

The first name must also not be a surname, or be spelled in an unusual way or as mentioned above, inappropriate or offensive.

In principal, there is no limit on how many first names a child is given. You will often find people in Denmark have two first names rather than a first and middle name. For example Jens Peter, Sofia Marie. Some use both of their first names while others drop one of them.

Middle name (mellemnavn)


In Denmark, middle names are usually similar to surnames. People may choose a grandparent's surname or one of their parent's surnames to use as a middle name.

First names from the approved list can be used as middle names and you can have multiple middle names.

Surname (efternavn)

You can only have one last name. For example, if you have been given both your mother's and your father's surnames, the latter acts as a surname and the other as a middle name. But if there is a hyphen between the names, the two names can function as one name.

Surnames that are used by more than 2,000 Danes are called "free surnames" ("frie efternavne") and can be used freely by anyone who wishes, either as a surname or a middle name. You can find an overview of free surnames here, which include the familiar Juhl, Kristensen, Petersen.

If the surname is used by less than 2,000 Danes, these are called protected names, and they cannot be used if they are not from your direct family.

Picking the name

There are a total of 20,618 approved boy names, 25,316 approved girl names and 1,284 approved neutral names in Denmark, which you can find here.

According to Statistics Denmark, the most popular girls' names in Denmark in 2022 were Ella, Freja, Alma, and Frida.

The most popular boys' name in 2022 were William, Karl, Emil, and Oscar.

If you want a name that's not on the list, you can apply for approval. You do this by going to your local church first, who then forward on the request to the Family Court.

If the name is approved, it is added to the official list and can then be used freely by anyone.


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