07 May 2009

forbidden names

The United Kingdom's Identity and Passport Service has refused to issue a passport to a woman by the legal name of Mrs Pudsey Bear. See BBC
Page last updated at 13:06 GMT, Sunday, 3 May 2009 14:06 UK

'Pudsey Bear' in passport fight

Mrs Pudsey Bear
Stand up the real Pudsey...Mrs Bear and friend

The Home Office has said it will "look again" into the case of a woman who changed her name to Pudsey Bear and had been fighting to get a passport issued.

The dental receptionist, 37, from Denbighshire had been told by officials her new name was "frivolous" and could cause her problems at border controls.

She said her two daughters called her "Mummy Bear" and she was Mrs Bear on her driving licence and bank cards.

A Home Office spokesman said it would consider if a passport could be issued.

Mrs Bear, from Prestatyn, was known by her original name of Eileen de Bont until she raised £4,000 through an online auction for the BBC's Children in Need charity appeal last year.

She decided to change her name to the appeal's mascot Pudsey Bear by deed poll.

She said: "We had had a really very difficult year and I just thought I would do something for us, to be honest."

There are lots of pop stars who call their children by wackier names and they manage to get a passport
Mrs Pudsey Bear

Mrs Bear started the process of applying for a new passport in her adopted name soon after Children in Need day last November.

"I had already got my driving licence, bank cards and even changed my name by deed poll to Mrs Pudsey Bear, " she said.

"Even my payslip has Mrs Bear on it."

Daughters Emily, 13, and Ellen, 10 had started referring to their mother as "Mummy Bear".

"So I was really disappointed to get this reply from the passport service saying they could not change my name because it was frivolous and could bring the passport service into disrepute.

Pudsey bear
Pudsey Bear the mascot appears up and down the country

"They also said that they had to safeguard my identity.

"There are lots of pop stars who call their children by wackier names and they manage to get a passport."

She said she was planning to take a break abroad later this year so a passport which matches her other documentation was essential.

Mrs Bear admitted that she had originally only planned to keep her Pudsey name for a year, but she said she did not expect it would create "so much of a palaver".

"At the end of the day I never expected to raise that amount of money.

Now, she said she is thinking of retaining it for longer, and then changing it again to raise more money for charity. She is even planning to release her one Pudsey Bear song for charity.

Vale of Clwyd Labour MP Chris Ruane confirmed his office had received some correspondence from Mrs Bear and he will be raising the matter with the passport service.

The Identity and Passport Service (IPS), in their letter to Mrs Bear, wrote: "It is deemed to be a frivolous change of name, which would bring IPS into disrepute. It could also pose problems for you at border control in some countries."

But in a statement issued by the IPS on Sunday, a spokesman said: "We have to protect the integrity of the British passport as it is one of the most respected in the world, however, we will certainly look at this case again, and consider whether there could be any justification in allowing a passport to be issued in a name of Pudsey Bear"

Considering that most of the rest of the world are not familiar with the real Pudsey Bear, she should have no trouble at other borders.

Meanwhile in Germany, triple barrelled (hyphenated) names remain verboten. From AP (in Englisch)
Germany upholds triple-barrelled name ban
6 May 2009

BERLIN (AP) — Germany's highest court ruled Tuesday that a married couple — Ms. Thalheim and Mr. Kunz-Hallstein — cannot become Mr. & Mrs. Thalheim-Kunz-Hallstein, upholding a 1993 law that draws the line at a maximum of two last names.

The Munich couple, whose first names were not released, challenged the law after they married. They argued they wanted to share a surname, while each maintaining professional names — Thalheim is a dentist and Kunz-Hallstein a lawyer.

They said the law violated their right to free choice and could be damaging their careers.

But the Karlsruhe-based Federal Constitutional Court rejected their claim, ruling the law exists to prevent clunky "name chains," while still allowing couples to decide for themselves which last name, or two-name combination, they wish to take on.

"This addresses the wish to create names that are viable in legal and business dealings, while at the same time do not lead to name chains in later generations," the court wrote.

Germany has strict laws governing not only which surnames can be used, but also which first names can be given to a child.

See also Der Spiegel which has a more in depth article.

As governments issue the most important personal identification documents, they are entitled make the rules.

Perhaps there should be a name registration board so that first names can be pre-approved beforehand for people who insist on making up wacky names. In the United States.

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