A child must be named before it reaches the age of 6 months. The following applies to children residing in Iceland:
- Custodians notify about the naming of a child. In cases of joint custody, one custodian sends in a notification about the naming and the other must confirm the registration. If the naming is not confirmed, the registration is not considered satisfactory and will be rejected by Registers Iceland. If the child is baptised and its guardians have not notified Registers Iceland of its name, the relevant priest or head of religious organisation will send a notification of the naming/baptism to Registers Iceland.
- The names that a child may be given are listed on the official list of names for persons. Foreign nationals may have a name that is not listed there. The Personal Names Committee decides on other names. If a child is to be given a name that is not listed on the official list of names for persons, an application must be sent to the Personal Names Committee.
- If the parents are neither married nor in registered cohabitation when the child is born, the child is given a matronymic surname. The child’s paternity must have been declared in order for it to have a patronymic surname. A declaration of paternity is prepared at a district commissioner’s office (where a birth certificate from Registers Iceland must be submitted) or by filling out a form on the Registers Iceland website. A child’s paternity is also registered if its parents register their cohabitation or marry subsequent to the child’s birth. The child’s surname is then changed in accordance with notifications of baptism or naming.
- Foreign nationals
Name registration for children residing abroad: Icelandic nationals residing abroad: see Children born abroad
Names can be changed if the provisions of naming laws are complied with. A change in name is permitted once except when special circumstances apply.
What can be changed?
There can be a total of 3 first and middle names and 2 surnames. A person may have no more than 5 names.
- First name. If there is a request for a name not listed on the official list of names for persons, Registers Iceland will forward the matter to the Personal Names Committee.
- Middle name. Middle names have a somewhat unique position, and different rules apply to them. Middle names should be listed on the official list of names for persons, but the genitive form of a parent’s name may also be used as a middle name, and in some instances, a family name may be used as a middle name. Icelandic nationals may only adopt the family name of a spouse as a middle name.
- Surname Matronymic, patronymic or both, or a family name if the person has the right to carry it. Those who wish to have a family name as a surname must have a direct-line ancestor that had the name registered in Registers Iceland when the naming law of 1991 entered into effect in the autumn of that year. An Icelandic national who wishes to adopt the family name of a spouse can only adopt it as a middle name.
A fee must be paid for a change of name if:
- A given name is removed or adopted or the order of given names changed.
- A middle name listed on the official list of names for persons is adopted or removed; the genitive form of a parent’s name is adopted as a middle name; or a special middle name, other than a family name, is adopted.
- A child with confirmed paternity is to be identified with a step-parent.
- A foster child in permanent foster care is to be identified with a foster parent.
- You are an Icelandic national who had to change your name when receiving Icelandic citizenship, in which case you and your descendants may re-adopt your former name/names.
Foreign alphabet characters are not recorded in the registry. All characters that are not part of the Icelandic alphabet are considered foreign characters. Foreign characters are transcribed according to set rules.
The consent of both custodians is always required when a child’s name is changed. If there has been a change in custody since the child was named, the consent of the guardian at the time of the child’s original naming is also required. The consent of the child is also required for children 12 years and older.
When a child’s surname is changed, the consent of the person with which the child will subsequently be identified is always required. If a child is to be identified with a step-parent or step-parents, the consent of the parents is always required, even if the child is not identified with them and they do not have custody over him/her.
A change in name is permitted once except when special circumstances apply. A change in a child’s name has no effect on the child’s chance of requesting a change of name when he/she has turned 18.
Icelanders whose legal domicile is outside Iceland must have their name changed in the country where they reside. When a name has been changed abroad, a confirmation must be sent to Registers Iceland. A confirmation can be in the form of a certificate from a foreign authority or legal identification containing the new name. A copy of legal identification documents must be attached.
It is recommended to have the same form of names registered in Iceland and abroad. Those who have one name registered in Registers Iceland and another registered abroad may have trouble proving that they are one and the same person.
Foreign nationals residing in Iceland can apply for a change of name on the basis of the naming laws.
Note that changes of names that are legal in Iceland may not be legal in the persons’ home country.
The Personal Names Committee is part of the Ministry of the Interior. In order to simplify the application process for a change of name to a name not listed by the committee, Registers Iceland is the intermediary for all matters reviewed by the committee.
A charge is collected for the committee’s review.
Full name: The full name of a person is recorded in the National Registry, with no limits to its length. The full name is printed in the person’s passport, ID card and other certificates issued by Registers Iceland. The full name is comprised of given name(s), middle name and surname(s). Example: Skúli Jónas Austfjörð Sigurðsson Ragnheiðarson (46 characters).
Given name(s): The first name is often referred to as the forename, or first name, and the second name as the middle name, but here, both of these are considered to be given names. Example: Skúli Jónas.
Middle name: Middle names are like surnames in that both men and women can have the same name. Names that are traditionally only given names for males or females are not used as middle names. Middle names do not undergo declension. Example: Austfjörð.
Surname: Last name(s). Example: Sigurðsson Ragnheiðarson.
Current transmitted name (max. 31 characters): This is the name currently transmitted for use by service providers that do not display the display name. Skúli J. A. S. Ragnheiðarson (28 characters).
Display name (max. 44 characters): The display name is forwarded to Registers Iceland’s service providers and is the name that public and private entities see displayed in their systems. The display name usually reflects the person’s full name but is limited to 44 characters. Example: Skúli J. Austfjörð Sigurðsson Ragnheiðarson (43 characters).
In recent years, Registers Iceland has been working on recording full names in the National Registry and correcting instances where a name has been shortened upon registration due to limitations of the system. It may therefore be possible that names of persons are not recorded in full in the registry, although it is technically possible to do so now.