Under English law, what dictates that you must have a name?
At first glance it seems like a stupid question: of course you have to have a name. But do you? And if so, from when?
You don’t get given a name the instant you’re born, so there’s obviously some length of time during which you’re entitled not to have one. My first thought was that it was to do with the birth being registered, which is controlled by the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953. However, although all births must be registered within 42 days, there is no obligation to register a name at that time. At any time during the first 12 months the Registrar can add a name to the original record.
And although it might be possible to infer from this that you must therefore have to have a name by the end of your first year of life, it doesn’t actually say so. So if it’s a legal requirement it must come from somewhere else.
That was an amazing observation. It never occurred to me that someone could stay nameless indefinitely.
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Having a name is a human right. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 7, says “The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.”. The UK is a signatory to this convention. It is not directly incorporated into UK law, however: the Human Rights Act 1998 only covers the European Convention on Human Rights.