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FAMILY

Explained: The rules for naming a baby in Denmark

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.

A 3 week old baby with his family
Naming a baby in Denmark comes with a set of rules. File photo: Mathias Løvgreen Bojesen / Ritzau Scanpix

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 borger.dk 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 2021 were Alma, Ida, Freja, Clara and Ella.

The most popular boys’ name in 2021 were Oscar, Karl, William, Alfred and Oliver.

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.

In 2021, there were 90 new names registered in Denmark. These included the names Africa, Berlin, Blue, Circel, Soya, Sne, Awesome, Human, Camel, Viking.

So let your imagination run free….and then double check the rule book.

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POLITICS

Why does Denmark reopen parliament at the start of October?

Denmark’s new parliamentary year is always commenced on the first Tuesday in October. Why is the custom important and what can be expected this year?

Why does Denmark reopen parliament at the start of October?

Parliament is opened each year on the first Tuesday in October with a traditional speech given by the prime minister – somewhat comparable to a ‘State of the Union’ speech – in which she gives her assessment of the situation in the Scandinavian nation as the new political year begins.

In practical terms, the reopening of parliament means Danish lawmakers will go back to voting on and discussing law proposals.

The reopening of parliament meanwhile often sees demonstrators gather in front of Christiansborg. Different groups lobbied for causes including climate and childcare standards in 2021.

The opening speech is usually attended by the Queen and members of the Royal Family, who watch from the Folketinget parliament’s Royal Box.

After lawmakers attend a service at the nearby Christiansborg Slotskirke church – which is also used for royal ceremonies – the Queen and other royal family members arrive at parliament for the opening ceremony, where they are received by the Speaker.

This year’s ceremony will be attended by Queen Margrethe, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary, and the Queen’s sister, Princess Benedikte.

The opening session is traditionally led by parliament’s longest-serving member. Formalities including voting for the Speaker and deputy speakers.

That is followed by the traditional opening speech from the prime minister.

While there are no predefined expectations as to the content of the speech, the Danish constitution states that the PM must make her assessment of the state of the kingdom and present some of the government’s initiatives.

Usually, the prime minister gives a speech at which she outlines the government’s strategies and key issues for the incoming parliamentary session, and sums up the previous year.

Two years ago, most of the regular traditions of the annual opening of parliament were observed amid Covid-19 restrictions, with the church service attended by most members of parliament moved from its normal location at Christiansborgs Slotskirke to the larger Holmens Kirke nearby, to allow social distancing.

Last year’s opening speech was used by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen to talk about topics including affordable housing, international climate targets and education.

This year could be markedly different with the energy crisis and war in Ukraine dominating the political agenda.

An even more immediate point of interest at this year’s opening is the likelihood of an election being announced.

The Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) party has demanded Frederiksen call an early general election, an ultimatum issued in response to the conclusions of an inquiry into the government’s 2020 mink scandal, which resulted in Frederiksen receiving an official rebuke.

The Social Liberals wanted an election called by the time of parliament’s return and have threatened to bring down the government through a vote of no confidence if an election is not called by October 4th. As such, an election would have to be called today to meet the demand.

Talk of an election is therefore high as parliament returns, but the government appears to have been given an extra day to call the vote, news wire Ritzau reported on Tuesday morning.

“The exact day means nothing for me. And I can also see that several commentators have noted that an election will be called on Wednesday [October 4th]. And that is completely fine with me and us,” Social Liberal political leader Sofie Carsten Nielsen said.

Legally, the government could wait until June 4th, 2023 to hold a general election – the last one was in 2019. Until now, Frederiksen has skirted the issue of calling an election when asked about it by journalists, but an announcement will now surely be made.

READ ALSO: Could Baltic Sea gas pipe leaks affect Denmark’s election timeline?

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