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Choosing the child's first name

Verified 05 August 2021 - Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister), Ministry of Justice

You just had a child and you wonder what name(s) to give it? Parents can choose a first name that is already in use or create a new first name. First name should not be against the child's best interests. The registrar checks the first name(s) chosen at the time of the birth declaration. Any given name entered in the birth certificate can be chosen as the usual first name, whatever its order.

General case

Parents choose the child's first name(s).

The first name is chosen when birth declaration.

The registrar can birth certificate.

In case of disagreement between the parents on the choice of the first name, JAF: titleContent is competent to decide the dispute.

Parents did not give first names

The registrar selects the child's first name when:

  • Parents don't choose first names
  • The mother who gave birth under X did not choose a name
  • The child is found


registrar may forward indication of the sex of the child birth certificate if the doctor cannot determine the sex of the child. The registration of medically recorded sex must take place in 3 months following birth declaration. If necessary, the child's first name(s) shall be corrected.


First name choice must meet the following conditions :

  • First name must not be contrary child's interest.
    For example, a ridiculous or rude first name.
  • First name must respect right of other person to have his or her surname protected.
    For example, choose first name family name of a famous person.
  • If the child carries the name of only one of his parents, it cannot have the name of the other parent as its first name.
    For example, a child whose parents are Mr. Dupont and Mrs. Martin.
    If this child only has Dupont as his last name, he cannot have Martin as his first name.

Free First Name Creation

Parents choose free child's first name(s).

There is no list of allowed first names.

Parents can choose one first name already used or create new first name.

This allows parents to choose the known foreigners or some diminutive names.

Number and order of first names

There is no rule on the number of child's first names.

However, registrar may consider that multiple first names are contrary to the best interests of the child.

Any given name birth certificate can be chosen as a common name, regardless of its order.

Example :

A person with 3 first names can be registered under their 2e or 3e first name on the occasion of his administrative procedures. She does not have to use the first name in 1to on the birth certificate.

The parent declaring the birth of the child shall spelling of the chosen first name(s).

He indicate whether there is a compound first name among the first names chosen.

If there is a compound first name, it must indicate whether it wants to separate first names by a dash or by a single space.

The alphabet used must the one used to write French. Alphabetical characters that are not used in the French language are therefore not allowed. For example, ñ.

Please note

it possible have the birth certificate corrected in case of first name error. For example, misspelt first name, missing dash for compound name.

The registrar controls each first name chosen by the parents at the time of birth.

It warn public prosecutor in the following cases :

  • First name is contrary to the best interests of the child. For example, a ridiculous or rude first name.
  • The first name violates the right of another person to have his or her last name protected.
  • The child carries the name of only one of his parents and has the name of the other parent

The public prosecutor may notify the JAF: titleContent who can request the deletion of the first name from the civil registry.

If the parents do not choose another name, the judge gives the child a first name.