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Sweden eases name restrictions

Sweden eases name restrictions

Published: 13 Aug 2008 14:27 GMT+02:00
Updated: 13 Aug 2008 14:27 GMT+02:00

Swedish authorities are to relax restrictions preventing adults from taking "inappropriate" names.

The Swedish National Tax Board (Skatteverket) has changed its guidelines as to what names are suitable for both adult Swedes and children born in Sweden.

The tax board holds a general registry of all people living in Sweden today. Up until now, it has forbidden name changes which veered beyond traditional naming conventions. For example it was difficult to call yourself Apple if you were a Swede.

But now it will be fine to change your name to Apple or for that matter, call your baby after anything else that derives from the plant world.

Lars Tegenfeldt, a legal expert at the tax board told The Local that adult people who wish to change their names may now judge for themselves whether the name might lead to any embarrassment.

The board continues to forbid taking on a name that is a swear word, describes genitalia or could offend others, although according to Tegenfeldt, this type of request is not common. Religious names such as Allah, Gud (God) and Fan (The Devil) are also taboo.

Parents may call their child after a company name, so long as it isn't potentially embarrassing or offensive for the child in future.

"It is OK to call your child Melitta, but not after Durex, the condom producers", Lars Tegenfeldt told The Local.

One common company name chosen by parents is 'Lego', he said.

Parents may call their child by a name that sounds more like a surname, but not if it's a common name like Lundström or Andersson. So there won't be any Lundström Lundströms running around and it remains impossible to give girls boys' names, as is often done in the US.

However, the Swedish Tax Authority will consider international influences, so names such as Charlie are considered fine for a little girl.

The change in policy has come about in order to minimize the number of appeals they receive when they have turned down names in the past.

The Local has previously reported on disputes surrounding names such as Metallica, Google and Elvis.

Claudia Rodas (news@thelocal.se)

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