Restrictions respecting personal names

Rules are in place when choosing, altering or correcting a legal name.


Documents and certificates for life events such as a birth, marriage, death or stillbirth require a legal name(s). A person’s name may be either:

  • at least one given name and a last name, which is a surname, family name or name used in common by family members
  • a cultural mononym, where a person has only one name. It may also consist of more than one word

A requested name may be denied if it is confusing, embarrassing to any other person, misleading or defrauding the public or, in general is determined to be:

  • offensive on any other grounds

Choose, alter or correct

All given and last names must begin with a letter and may contain non-consecutive hyphens, apostrophes and periods. The name must use the standard English alphabet of 26 letters:

  • Greek letters, Inuit letters, Arabic script or Kanji are not acceptable

A given and last name can use:

  • letters such as a, b, c, or A, B, C
  • Roman numerals like II, III, IV
  • numbers spelled out such as second, third
  • a space to separate names like David John
  • a hyphen (-) to join names as in Mary-Anne
  • a single letter like J or B., with a space and/or period following the letter being an option

Not allowed are:

  • pictograms, codes, hieroglyphics, among others
  • actual numbers, as in 2 or 5

Using punctuation marks

Under certain conditions, a name may contain punctuation marks, if used non-consecutively:

  • period (.)
  • hyphen (-)
  • apostrophe (')

A legal name cannot contain just hyphens, periods or apostrophes without letters such as ('..-..')

Also prohibited are: symbols of any sort, slashes (/) or commas (,) in any part of the name, or to separate names including quotation marks (“ “) or/and brackets ().

Naming a baby

When parents cannot agree on a last name for their baby, the baby’s last name will be registered with the last name of each parent hyphenated in alphabetical order.

Do not use slashes (/), commas (,) or hyphens (-) to show there is a blank space between names.

Letter-accent combinations

The following is a list of the letter-accent combinations we can print on Alberta Vital Statistics certificates and related documents. Accents can be applied to both upper or lower case letters.

Table 1. List of the letter-accent combinations

A/a C/c E/e I/i N/n O/o U/u Y/y
Á/á Ç/ç É/é Í/í Ñ/ñ Ó/ó Ú/ú Ý/ý
À/à   È/è Ì/ì   Ò/ò Ù/ù  
Â/â   Ê/ê Î/î   Ô/ô Û/û  
Ä/ä   Ë/ë Ï/ï   Ö/ö Ü/ü  
Ã/ã         Õ/õ    


Connect with the Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction Contact Centre:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-427-7013 (Edmonton and area)
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Fax: 780-422-4225

For the deaf or hard-of-hearing:
TTY: 780-427-9999 (Edmonton and area)
Toll free TTY: 1-800-232-7215 (in Alberta)

Email: [email protected]

Vital Statistics
P.O. Box 2023
Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 4W7

Vital Statistics
Document Reception
John E. Brownlee Building
10365 97 Street
Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 5C5