Which Baby Names Are Banned in Portugal?

Wondering which baby names are illegal in Portugal? (Sure you are!) The Portuguese government maintains an 80-page list of baby names–a mix of the permitted and the forbidden. Here are some of the names (and weirdly specific name combinations) Portuguese parents are not allowed to give their babies:

  • Aidan
  • Albuquerque
  • Allan Brett
  • Anouchka
  • Antoinette
  • Argo Demetrius
  • Ashanti
  • Ashley
  • Babilónia
  • Ben-Hur
  • Brunei
  • Bruce
  • Bryan
  • Charlotte
  • Cheyenne
  • Claret
  • Claude
  • Coltrane (jazz musician)
  • Brilhante (Portuguese for brilliant)
  • Britta Nórdica
  • Chianda Kady
  • Dmitri, Dmitriy, Dmitro
  • Do Sorriso
  • Douglas
  • Dylan
  • Farley
  • Faruk
  • Fraternidade
  • Giana Lai
  • Heidi
  • Hendrix
  • Imperatriz
  • Ivanhoe (19th-century novel)
  • Jaiantcumar
  • Jenny
  • Jimmy
  • Jivago (form of Zhivago)
  • Kathleen
  • Kennedy
  • Leeyang
  • Loïc
  • Logan
  • Mabel
  • Magnifica
  • Mar e Sol (Portuguese for sea and sun)
  • Marx
  • Mary Ann
  • Melbournia
  • Nazareth Fernandes
  • Nirvana
  • Olaf
  • Pablo
  • Piombina (Italian town Piombino)
  • Portugal
  • Rihanna
  • Rosa Luxemburgo
  • Samora Machel
  • Sandokan (fictional pirate Sandokan)
  • Satélite
  • Sayonara (Japanese for goodbye)
  • Tamagnini (Italian surname)
  • Trebaruna (Lusitanian deity)
  • Vasconcelos (Portuguese surname)
  • Viking
  • Virtuosa
  • Viterbo (Italian town)
  • Zingara (Italian for gypsy)

Some are foreign names/words, some are locations, some refer to pop culture, and so forth.

Many of the no-no names are simply in the wrong form (according to the government). For instance, parents can use…

  • Aarão, but not Aaron
  • Agata, but not Agatha
  • Baltasar, but not Baltazar
  • Daisi, but not Daisy
  • Dulce do Amparo, but not Dulce Amparo
  • Kévim, but not Kevin
  • Hervé, but not Hervê or Herve (reminds me of the Zöé controversy)
  • Maria de Lurdes, but not Maria de Lourdes
  • Martina, but not Martine
  • Mónica, but not Monique
  • Nuno, or Nuno de Santa Maria, or Nuno do Carmo (Carmelite), but not Nuno Álvares.

To see all the names for yourself, download the Lista de Nomes from the Instituto dos Registos e do Notariado.

22 Responses to Which Baby Names Are Banned in Portugal?

  1. Are there exceptions possible? For example, I know in other countries foreign parents can choose names on the banned list if they can prove the name is from their country of origin- is this allowed in Portugal?

  2. I really don’t know how strict Portugal is with baby names, but I’d hope they’d make exceptions once in a while, especially for non-Portuguese parents.

    (Anyone out there from Portugal? Can you shed any light on this?)

  3. Hi,
    I’m from Portugal and I know that until the second half of the 20th century, only Biblical/Christian names were allowed which is why so many women were named Maria followed by some other name. Maria became almost a prefix. For example, a Maria Elisa would actually be known as Elisa and not as Maria, almost as if Maria wasn’t also her name or more like a “Miss.” Any “foreign” or foreign-sounding names were forbidden. I have a friend who was born in France to Portuguese parents and named Sandrine. When the family moved back to Portugal and wanted the child to have Portuguese citizenship the name had to be changed to “Sandrina.” In the last 3 decades this has changed (almost inevitably, as the large number of Brazilian and African immigrants brought many names that sound quite strange to us Portuguese). Right now there is just this list of “forbidden” names, but exceptions are allowed all the time.

  4. Thank you for the explanation, Mark! Very helpful.

  5. I’ve checked out their list. Nice to know they are still gender specific: Quéli (Kelly), Aubri (Aubrey), Ariel, Aléxis (Alexis), are only allowed for boys. I wonder if the US government was that strict with names, maybe their would be no unisex names these days, and boys would still have a much winder range of names.

  6. Hi! I’m Portuguese as well, and a fan of your site :)

    First, this list only applies to babies born in Portugal to Portuguese parents. If one of the parents is foreign or the child has double citizenship, foreign names are allowed. I know a Stéphanie who was born in France; her parents did not have to register as Estefânia in Portugal (even though Stéphanie would not be allowed here).

    Basically, any name that is too foreign (“Aidan”), doesn’t respect Portuguese orthography (“Agatha”), is confusing about the child’s gender, is a surname (“Vasconcelos”) or is otherwise deemed ridiculous or cruel to the child (“Satélite”… really?) will not be admitted.

    Of course, there are exceptions, depending of how willing the civil registrator is to close his/her eyes. And in recent decades, thanks to the inflow of African, Brazilian, and Eastern-European immigrants, lots of new names are gradually being added (I’m shocked to see “Daisi” is allowed, for instance). My brother has a friend named Maxim; he was born in Russia but has Portuguese citizenship. Sixty years from now, will he be allowed to name a fully Portuguese grandson after himself? Probably!

    These rules are very much supported by the population, by the way. First, it’s seen as a way to protect our language and our culture. Secondly, right now the trend is to give children classic, simple names, and these sort of names are seen as harmful for a child, not to mention “bad taste”. It’s funny because Portuguese people who were born in the 70’s and 80’s and given “modern” names like Cátia, Tânia, or Fábio (which are considered “low class”) are now naming their kids super classy things like Maria, Tomás, and Martim.

    Hope I helped! I’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have.

  7. Fantastic explanation! Thank you, Rita.

    I’m intrigued by that last paragraph–probably because so many of the (American) parents I talk to bristle at the mere mention of baby name laws.

  8. Those rules apply only to portuguese citizens, with portuguese roots. Imagine you are american, and you have a baby in Portugal. You are allowed to choose an english name. Imagine you are portuguese, but you parents aren’t. You are allowed to choose a foreign name.

    Rita is right: these rules are very much supported by the population. People don’t respond well to weird names – even when they are approved; using uncommon names may be interpreted as embaracing to the child. And we have such a beautiful language – there’s really no need to go for foreign names, although people are always using the same names; nowadays, every newborn is Beatriz or Leonor, Tomás or Rodrigo.

  9. Hii ^^
    I am Portuguese !
    I guess you can call them banned but i think they are just Highly unlikley used ;)
    (that is just my Opinion)
    Although a lot of poeple don’t use those names anymore , because they are as Banned as well as outdated (because names go in syle and out, sometimes) ) LoL, some poeple still use them x]

    I didn’t really answer any questions , but if i did i hoped it helped
    I would be glad to answer any questions. . .

    Bye, and thankyou for sharing this information with me cause now i have a speech topic rotfl :D

  10. Hi, I was born in Canada, but my mother was born in Portugal. Her parents were also, but my mother’s name is Maria de Lourdes not Maria de Lurdes. She was born in 1958, how is it possible that she has that spelling if it is not excepted? Just out of curiosity?;)

  11. Hi Olivia, good question. Perhaps the law went into effect after your mom was born? Beyond that, I don’t have an explanation. :)

  12. I have children born in the U.S. to a Portuguese father (Canadian mother). We registered the birth of two of our children in Portugal so far (around 2010); Lucia and Emma. Although we spelled Emma the American way (instead of Ema), it was approved by the Portuguese registrar because she was foreign-born.

  13. I was born in portugal (Acores) in 1975 and now live in the US. My mother named me Carla. She said her other choices were Sandra and Sonjia (not sure of the spelling). Are those names considered normal or common for portuguese? Also my mom’s name is Aira pronounced Ida. I have’nt ever heard that name besides her.

  14. To Olivia, when your mother was born Lourdes was the way it was written.That changed with time. You can still find many people born before the 70’s called Luiz ( Luis now), Victor ( now Vitor), Manoel (Manuel), Tereza (Teresa) or Heloisa (Eloisa).

  15. Hello,
    I believe some names are on a “banned” list because there was a point in time where Portugal didn’t have certain letters in the alphabet such as K and Y. I know that if a person for example such as my self that lives in Portugal but is has a nationally of another country they allow the name you want to give to your child and in the way you want to spell it too. You have to go to your embassy and pay to get a paper saying that you are of another nationally and are having a baby in Portugal and would like to use this name. I think for the most part, other English or other names from different ethics are very hard for Portuguese people to say because of the accents, maybe that could be why they want to stick to their own Portuguese names, I know that now lots of people are starting to name there children out of the normal. As time goes on, rules changes.

  16. I heard first time like this rules. Is it followed by Portugal people?

  17. I’m from Portugal and I have a friend of mine who’s last name is Viterbo, are these restrictions only for first names?

  18. Hi Elsa — As far as I know, Portugal only has restrictions on given names, not on surnames.

  19. Hello i am Portuguese also and i just wanted to speak that these are nit laws. They are guidlines to help parents. No they areto force them.

  20. Does anyone know why give their kids different last names when they are born, instead of them all having the same last name for the family? Also, what does the de mean before their name?

  21. Hi Kim, in Portugual (also in Spain) children usually receive two surnames, one from each parent. For example, the footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, his real name is actually Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aviero, with ‘dos Santos’ and ‘Aviero’ being his last names, Cristiano his first and Ronaldo his middle name. ‘dos Santos’ comes from his mother, and ‘Aveiro’ from his father, and traditionally that’s how most people’s names are. Sometimes, children can get three or four surnames, two from each parent instead of just one, but typically it’s one from each.

    ‘de’ is just a preposition used in some names. For example, the name ‘dos Santos’ means ‘of the Saints’ and names like Maria da Conceição mean ‘Mary of the Conception’ which is very common in names you see that derive from saints or other Catholic figures. You typically see it a lot with the name Maria. Maria das Dores, Maria da Assunção, Maria da Gloria, etc.

  22. in Spain the naming convention is slightly different, children receive 1 or more given names and usually 2 surnames, the first being the paternal family surname and the second the mothers first(paternal) surname, in unofficial occasions the second surname is dropped. this naming convention sometimes causes problems when in other countries when people call them by their second surname.
    sometimes within the aristocracy they might even use all 4 surnames if they are very relevant in history.

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