Icelandic Girl Denied Passport Due to ‘Illegal’ Name

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Icelandic Girl Denied Passport Due to ‘Illegal’ Name

By Zoë Robert
Icelandic passport

Photo: Wikipedia.

A ten-year-old Icelandic girl, Harriet Cardew, has been denied a passport as her name is not accepted by the Icelandic Naming Committee.

“They have deprived our daughter of freedom of movement,” the girl’s mother, Kristín Cardew, told visir.is. “It is in violation of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child,” she added.

​Kristín and her husband, Tristan Cardew, who was born in the U.K., have four children together: Lilja and Belinda, born in France, and Harriet and Duncan, born in Iceland. As Harriet and Duncan have not been approved by the Naming Committee, their names are listed as stúlka (‘girl’) and drengur (‘boy’) Cardew in the National Registry and have appeared as such in their passports until now. 

When Kristín went to arrange for a new passport for Harriet last week so that the family could travel to France, she was told that because her name is not approved, a passport cannot be issued in her name. A lawyer at the National Registry told her that the it is “cleaning out” the individuals who are listed as stúlka or drengur. It was not mentioned in the original news story whether Duncan will receive a passport. 

Only when both of a child’s parents are foreigners, or if a child has an Icelandic first or middle name, can a child be given a foreign name, Kristín added.

The couple contacted the British Embassy to arrange for an emergency passport so that they can go ahead with their travel plans.

Tristan told visir.is that the National Registry or the District Commissioner’s Office should have let them know that Harriet would be denied a passport so that they could have arranged for a British passport on time.

The couple have sent the Ombudsman a letter and have not ruled out taking the matter to court.

The case of Blær Bjarkardóttir, a 15-year-old girl who sued Icelandic authorities to have her name officially approved (she too had been known as ‘girl’ in the National Registry), made international headlines last year. She went on to win the case.

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