​10-Year-Old's Passport Request Denied Because of Her Name

passport with stampsAn Icelandic couple named Tristan and Kristin Cardew having an incredibly difficult time trying to get a passport for their 10-year-old daughter -- all because of her name.

Believe it or not, Iceland's laws state that unless both parents are foreign, they have to submit their name choice to the National Registry for approval within six months of birth. Government-approved names have to fulfill requirements such as "Icelandic grammatical endings," "linguistic structure of Iceland," and "Icelandic orthography." And the Cardews' daughter, Harriet, doesn't fit with these laws or appear on the approved list of 1,853 approved female names. (For the record, there are just 1,712 boys names that are fine by Iceland officials.)

Given that we live in a country where Kim Kardashian and Kanye West can name their kid North, and Subaru is making baby name lists, the dilemma the Cardews are facing is an extremely difficult one for us Americans to wrap our heads around.

But it's situations like this that should remind us not to take our freedom for granted. We're so lucky to live in a country where we can name our kids whatever we want. That we don't have to go through a grueling process of submitting our name choice to a committee or having to adhere to a set list. I would imagine that as a result, our kids are afforded an even greater sense of self. Even if they have a common name, like John or Elizabeth, it was likely chosen for personal reasons -- not because the government would sign off on it!

More from The Stir: 14 Banned Baby Names That Kind of Crack Us Up

That said, we could clearly stand to reframe how we see baby naming: as a privilege to be taken seriously. A case for skipping some of those more disturbingly unconventional choices (like Syphilis, Gonorrhea, and Hashtag) perhaps?!

In the meantime, the Cardews have appealed Iceland's decision to deny Harriet an updated passport. "They have deprived our daughter of freedom of movement," the girl's mother told visir.is. It's absurd. But it should sure make American moms all sorts of grateful that this is one bureaucratic hoop we definitely don't have to jump through!

How would you feel about the government telling you to stick to a list of approved baby names?

Image via jaaronfarr/Flickr

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I'm more surprised that her surname isn't "Tristansdottir" which is common in Iceland.

sunmo... sunmoonandstar

Harriet is a nice name. To me at least. It's actually the name I'd use if I ever had another daughter. Seems odd it's not on the list of acceptable names but at the same time I do understand Iceland is a different country with completely different names they consider normal.

Pam.N.42 Pam.N.42

Just as a note Subaru is a name, not just a car, but its funny if its on Japanese people. 

Roxan... Roxanne92


I made the kid, don't tell me what I can and can't name them, that's just messed up

Railr... RailroadGirl

I wish our country had rules on naming kids. Hash tag is a name someone gave their baby and that's just wrong.

Stacey Anne Harris

Oh come on..you are native of that country..you live in that country..you obviously know the laws of that country. Don't go boo hoo'ing when they deny you a passport because you decided to ignore the laws of your country.

nonmember avatar Grace

That's not true. A family in the southern United States named their baby boy Messiah and a judge ordered them to change it, citing sacrilege as a reason. Ridiculous and horrifying that she thought it was her business or place for the court to change something like that.

mztyf... mztyfying1

Well when we have a government dictating what birth control we can have with insurance we pay for. ... I'm not so sure all our freedoms are safe and really, names...we have kids named Three, Apple, North Blue, Bear, , Frost and countless alcohols..maybe a little assistance in picking a name a child won't hate wouldn't hurt..since we're restricting other stuff.

Super... Supervane

Omg I thought it was gonna be a name along the lines of Naveah

nonmember avatar Boo

Meh. In Iceland they do have so many good things the "free" Americans lack, even the basic stuff like a PAID maternity leave PLUS 90 more days to be shared between parents, AND childcare vouchers, AND child benefits, that I believe many "free" Americans would gladly exchange the pretend-freedom over this.

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