You can register your child’s name in any language providing you use any Unicode character

As late as 2015, the rules in Northern Ireland regarding registering the birth of a baby [when the site asks, say you want the Mobile version] specify that "You can register your child's name in any language providing you use any Unicode character."

A friend of mine was tempted to see how far he could push that rule.

Could you really name your child U+2603 SNOWMAN or U+1F4A9 PILE OF POO or U+1D5EB MATHEMATICAL SANS-SERIF BOLD CAPITAL X?

And you thought Little Bobby Tables was confusing. Imagine the havoc you could create by naming your child U+200F RIGHT-TO-LEFT-MARK or U+FFFD REPLACEMENT CHARACTER or U+FEFF BYTE ORDER MARK!

This month marks the 25th birthday of Unicode.

The original link appears no longer to be valid. Were people naming their kid U+1F4A9 PILE OF POO? The current rules do not mention the "any Unicode character" part.

Comments (27)
  1. ZLB says:

    We used to joke about this at work….

    …IIRC, I looked this up and there is also a ‘no stupid names’ rule too.,,which is a shame as I have just thought up a great way to avoid speeding fines, council tax and parking tickets…

    There are also cases where someone has legally changed their name by deed-poll but then been refused a passport,

    1. Brian_EE says:

      I saw recently where someone named their daughter Phelony (felony) and wondered if that child is doomed to a life of crime and incarceration.

  2. Karellen says:

    I predict a generation of millenial neo-hippies will insist on naming their children only with characters from the Astral Planes[0]. In some ways, it seems a pity that many characters concerning stars, moons, planets and constellations already exist in the BMP.


  3. NULL says:

    ascii would be no better in this case.

  4. Medinoc says:

    Also, to me “providing you use any unicode character”, without any plurals, hints at either single-character names, or names that are OK as long as any character in them belongs to the Unicode standard, even if others don’t.

  5. Alex Cohn says:

    7-bit ascii should probably be enough for all practical purposes,

    1. smf says:

      Europe would disagree with you.

      1. Alex Cohn says:

        have you looked up the link before replying?

    2. Klimax says:

      Ehm… ěščřžýáíéúů would like to have a word with you…

  6. CodeVisio says:

    The highest point is reached with the adoption of a baby…ops a Unicode character ( web page, on the right side)

  7. smf says:

    “You can register your child’s name in any language providing you use any Unicode character”

    The Unicode character has to be part of a name in any language, they’ll probably say those characters are not in a language. It’s obvious that they can only accept Unicode characters because of limitations of their computer system, not that they will allow any Unicode character. It would be a real disadvantage for you if you did manage to register your child with “pile of poo”, they would likely never be able to get a drivers license, passport, bank account, state benefits, pension etc.

    1. waleri says:

      Wow, denying, because you don’t like the name?
      Lawyers will fight for this case…

      As for the names, is Robert Drop Table taken? :)

    2. Yukkuri says:

      Well, not there maybe, but on this side of the ocean being a pile of poo almost seems to be a requirement for a driver’s license :V

      1. smf says:

        I was thinking more of the practicality of filling in a paper and pen form or giving your details over the phone. You are also at the mercy of the computer systems used elsewhere. I doubt electronically readable passports can encode all those Unicode characters anyway, but passports have higher moral standards as you’re creating a document that could offend people in other countries. It’s likely that “a pile of poo” would be considered offensive.

        1. Yukkuri says:

          Yes I know you were. Thanks for ruining the joke :P

    3. viila says:

      No problem. I’ll pick a name from Egyptian hieroglyphs, or maybe Akkadian cuneiform, or how about linear-B? 𓇍𓅓𓊵𓏏𓊪 would sound nice, don’t you think?

      Even better would be linear-A. Since we haven’t been able to decipher the script you couldn’t even transliterate it. The linear-A symbols would be the only possible representation of it.

  8. Nico says:

    My firstborn shall be called NULL (U+0000) REPLACEMENT CHARACTER (U+FFFD).

    It has a pleasant symmetric.

  9. Roman says:

    The name’s Mark. Byte Order Mark.

    Friends call me Feff, though.

    1. Yukkuri says:

      You win the comments on this post :D

  10. cheong00 says:

    I wonder how they’re treat it if we try to register a baby with the name “U+FEFF,U+0020,U+1680,U+00A0,U+202F” too. :P

    Btw, small nitpick on the name that unless the U+FEFF locates at the start of file, I’d prefer more to name it “‘ZERO WIDTH NO-BREAK SPACE”.

    1. Nick says:

      But the zero-width, no-break space version of U+FEFF is deprecated, allowing U+FEFF to only be the BOM. I suppose this is not unlike Ellis Island arbitrarily renaming people to whatever the paperwork processor heard, poor Feff was renamed 2060.

      (yes: this is very unlike Ellis Island)

      1. cheong00 says:

        Yup, it’s use is deprecated. But when you encountered that in the middle of a file, you should strill treat it as ZWNBSP.

  11. Kevin says:

    Did they mean any Unicode character, or any Unicode code point? Because there’s a whole lot of code points that don’t actually correspond to characters. And what about U+FFFF which is legal but meaningless?[1]


  12. AlexShalimov says:

    If you’ll name your child some combining symbol, (s)he will never be alone.

  13. John Elliott says:

    Perhaps someone pointed out that other bits of the UK government don’t seem to have fully embraced the gamut of ASCII for names, let alone Unicode. HMRC’s current validation rule for a name is [A-Za-z][A-Za-z \-']* — see XSDs here, for example.

  14. Ray Koopa says:

    “We call him Little Bobby 💩” I think that’s not too bad.

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