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Can I legally include a line-break in my child’s name?



Can I legally include a line-break in my child's name?

Ethics aside, is it legal (or even possible) to include a line break (newline) in my child’s name?

Preferably at the end of the child’s first name, directly after the last letter. So instead of (for example) the name “John Doe”, the name would always be written out “John
Doe”. And then when the first name only is written out the line break would have to be included, such as “My child’s first name is John and his last name is Doe”. If this is legal, how would I go about making sure the line break is included on the name section of the birth certificate?

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In the US, any legal restrictions on names are implemented at the state level——although broad administrative restrictions exist on the federal level. Some states may restrict use of diacritics (ubiquitous in Vietnamese) or Arabic numerals (but not Roman numerals). At the other extreme, in Washington state, there is no requirement to include a name at all in the case of live birth of known parentage. In the case of delayed report of live birth, and “An individual requesting the delayed report of live birth of an individual under twelve years of age must establish the facts concerning full name, date, and place of live birth”. But no restrictions are imposed on names that can be so reported.

Theoretically, one could attempt to register a child with the name 𑠓𑠳𑠢 (in the Dogra script), which would cause technical problems for the registrar’s office. It is likely that the clerk taking in the form would respond something along the lines of “Huh?” and “How do you spell that”. Similarly, one might try to register a birth name Hoàng Phủ Ngọc Tường, which would not be particularly difficult to deal with but might still stress the system (it depends on the county). In the latter case the name might be quietly converted to Hoang Phu Ngoc Tuong. In the former case, it is virtually guaranteed that the clerk would have no recourse but to insist on a romanization. Then the person registering would be insistent, they would file a lawsuit, and the courts would make some decision. It is most likely that the courts would be sympathetic to the practical concerns of the registrar and would not demand a huge overhaul of computer systems to allow any arbitrary graphic representation as a legal name.

The State Department has regulations regarding names at 8 FAM 403: Personally Identifying Information. 8 FAM 403.1-3(C) addresses punctuation, special characters and symbols, diacritical marks, and non-Latin alphabets. They do not prohibit anything in names, instead they acknowledge that not everything is supported, and there is a long discussion of “discrepancies” which would explain the passport name “Nyema” for 𑠓𑠳𑠢. Passport names comply with the International Civil Aviation Organization standard. Social Security has a different set of rules where spaces, numbers, hyphens, slashes or any other special characters are not allowed for names, even including length limits where first, middle and last names can be maximally 10, 7 and 13 characters long (enter the first 10, 7 and 13 characters).

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