Choosing Your Child’s Name

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As parent, you get to decide the first and last name that your child will have. However, Québec has certain rules which you must follow.

Choosing a first name

You can choose one or several first names (“first names” includes middle names), but it is preferable not to give more than four first names.

The name that appears first in the declaration of birth must be the name you intend for your child to regularly use.

If one of the first names is a compound name (a name joined by a hyphen), you must insert a hyphen between the two names. If not, the two names will be considered two distinct names.

One of the parent’s family names can be used as one of the child’s first names. In addition, an initial of one of the parent’s family names can be used as one of the child’s first names.

In case of disagreement

If you and your spouse cannot agree on a name to give your child, the Directeur de l’état civil will intervene. It will assign two first names to the child, one chosen by each of the parents.

Choosing a family name

Your child’s family name must respect certain rules:

  • The child can adopt either of the parents’ names, or a composite of the two names joined by a hyphen.
  • When both parents have composite family names, you must choose a name that contains only two parts.
  • A family name cannot include an initial (e.g.: B-Roy), because this kind of name does not meet the requirements of the Civil Code of Québec. The family names of the parents must be written in full so that the child’s family name fully reflects the family relationship to either of the parents, or both.
  • Your newborn’s family name may differ from the family names of your other children. This means that children from the same parents can have different family names.
  • The child’s family name cannot be composed of one of the parent’s first names.

Can the Directeur de l’état civil ask us to change the first or family names we give our child?

Yes. If you gave your child any name that is unusual or that might cause your child to be ridiculed or not taken seriously, the Directeur might ask you to choose a less controversial name.

If you refuse to change the chosen name(s), the matter could wind up in court where a judge will make a final decision.