Girl Denied A Passport Because Her Name Is ‘Harriet’

If you want to name your baby girl Harriet, don’t live in Iceland.

The country recently denied 10-year-old Harriet Cardew’s passport renewal request because her name doesn’t comply with Icelandic baby naming laws. Her name doesn’t appear on the approved list of 1,853 female and 1,712 boy names,The Guardian reports.

Icelandic laws state that unless both parents are foreign, they must submit their name choice to the National Registry for approval within six months of birth. The name must fulfill requirements that include “Icelandic grammatical endings,” “linguistic structure of Iceland” and “Icelandic orthography.”

“That’s the problem with Harriet,” Harriet’s father, Tristan Cardew, told The Guardian. “It can’t be conjugated in Icelandic.”

Lilja and Belinda, two of the couple’s four children, have their names on their passports because they were born in France. However, Harriet and her brother Duncan, 12, were born in Iceland, but did not have their names approved by the committee.

They live in Reykjavik, Iceland, and up until this point, have been going by “Girl” and “Boy” on their passports. But upon getting Harriet’s passport request, the government went a step further and denied her an updated passport completely, which could put her family’s upcoming trip to France on hold.

So Tristan and his wife, Kristin, appealed. “They have deprived our daughter of freedom of movement,” Kristin told

Baby name “bans” might sound crazy in a country where they’re unheard of, but governments all over the world set naming guidelines. Baby-naming site, Nameberry, reports that countries like Germany and Italy have their own rules — in Germany, surnames as first names like “Anderson” aren’t allowed; In Italy, names that could embarrass a child are questioned. “In fact, some of these are not long-standing strictures, but relatively recent ones,”wrote Nameberry’s co-founder and naming expert Linda Rosenkrantz.

The Cardews could bypass the name block by changing Harriet’s middle name to an Icelandic one, but the family thinks it’s too late. Instead, they applied for an emergency passport from the British Embassy where dad Tristan is from.

He finds the name approval process absurd. “The whole situation is really rather silly,” he said.


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