Act on Forenames and Surnames

What does the law say about first names?

The Finnish Act on Forenames and Surnames entered into force on 1 January 2019. The previous names act was from 1986. The act was reformed because of changes in society that the previous law did not account for. The concept of family and marriage had changed, and immigrants had brought with them new naming conventions. The new act clarifies the handling of name-related matters and safeguards the equality of citizens and ensures the best interests of the child are addressed in name-related matters.

Sections on first names in the Act on Forenames and Surnames:

Section 1: Obligation to have a forename and indispensable conditions for forenames

Everyone shall have a first name.

The maximum number of forenames is four.

As a forename may only be approved a name or a combination of forenames that is not:

1) likely to give offence;

2) likely to cause harm;

3) manifestly inappropriate as a forename.

Section 2: Discretionary conditions for forename

As a forename may only be approved a name that:

1) in its form, content and spelling complies with the established forename practices;

2) is in established use of the same sex;

3) does not clearly resemble a surname.

A name cannot be approved as the first forename of a minor child, if it is the first forename of a living sibling or half sibling of the person being named, or if it is a name ending in poika (“son”) or tytär (“daughter”) or a name formed in a corresponding manner, unless there are special reasons for this.

Section 3: Grounds for derogation

A forename that does not meet the conditions laid down in section 2, subsection 1, may, however, be approved:

1) if the name is, according to information contained in the Population Information System, already used by five living persons of the same sex as the person being named;

2) if the person has a connection to a foreign state due to his or her citizenship, family relations or some other equivalent circumstance and the proposed forename complies with the established forename practices of that state;

3) because of religious custom;

4) if it is considered that there is some other special reason for the approval.


Act on Forenames and Surnames on the Finlex website


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