Duncan and Harriet are two perfectly normal names in the United Kingdom but if either is your moniker in Iceland, you’re in for a bumpy ride!
All children born in Iceland must be given one of the 1,853 female or 1,712 male names sanctioned by the government. If parents opt for a more adventurous name, they must apply for permission to use it. The list of approved names was published in 1996 in an effort to preserve the Icelandic language.
Up until recently, those with unapproved names were titled ‘girl’ or ‘boy’ on their passport, but changing legislation now means that an individual’s name has to appear on the document. This ruling caused significant problems for a British-Icelandic couple who needed to renew their children’s passports. Sadly, it looked like Duncan, Harriet and their parents would be going nowhere, as the Icelandic renewal was refused. A late application for emergency passports from the UK Embassy, however, managed to save the day!
To discover more about the traditions and culture of Iceland, travel to the 'Land of Fire and Ice' with us.