Name Authorities


The Place-Names Commission (Stednavneudvalget) acts as the national authority on geographical names. This group of experts works in cooperation with local municipalities on the revision of geographical names in the published lists of authorized place-names. The Place-Names Commision recommends authorization to the Minister of Cultural Affairs who makes the final ruling in the matter. Changes or revisions in authorization are kept up-to-date by the Danish Geodata Agency (Geodatastyrelsen).

Faroe Islands

In 2009, the Faroese Ministry of Cultural Affairs appointed a Faroese committee for Place Names (Føroysk staðarnavnanevnd) with five members, of which three of them are representing the University of Faroe Islands (Fróðskaparsetur Føroya), one represents the Faroese Language Committee (Føroyska málnevndin) and one the Environment Agency (Umhvørvisstovan). The committee is commissioned to authorize geographical names and to guide authorities and the public about forms of geographical names and their spelling in public use, such as on maps, signs and in textbooks. The committee is authorized to make decisions in geographical names matters, although decisions made by the committee can be appealed to the Minister of Cultural Affairs.


The Institute for the Languages of Finland (Kotimaisten kielten keskus/Institutet för de inhemska språken) is the body for providing normative recommendations for geographical names in Finnish and Swedish, and the Giellagas Institute (Giellagas-instituhtta) for geographical names in the Saami languages. Geographical names authorized by the institutes are stored in a database by the National Land Survey (Maanmittauslaitos/Lantmäteriverket) of Finland and published in their map series.


One of the main objectives of the Greenland Place Names Committee (Nunat Aqqinik Aalajangiisartut) is to authorize geographical names in Greenland, excluding street names and names of squares and places. The Committee also gives guidance to Greenlandic authorities and the public in questions related to place names in Greenland and is obliged to cooperate with institutions and persons who publish authorized lists of Greenlandic geographical names.


The authority of the Icelandic Place-Name Committee (Örnefnanefnd) in the standardization of geographical names is based on the Place-Names Act (Laga um bæjanöfn) of 1953 and later amendments. This body of experts authorizes geographical names and decide which place-name are eligible for publication in the national map series.


The Norwegian Mapping Authority (Statens kartverk) is the national authority on the standardization of geographical names in Norway. The is authorization of geographical names is taken care of by place-name consultants administered through the Norwegian Language Council (Språkrådet). The place-name consultants work with geographical names in Norwegian, Kven and Saami. Authorised geographical names are stored in a central place-name database (Sentralt stedsnavnregister (SSR)) maintained by Norwegian Mapping Authority.


The standardization of Saami geographical names is undertaken by the national countries in which the Saami names occur, namely Finland, Norway and Sweden. No common authorization board exists for Saami, however, national standardization of Saami geographical names occurs according to common standards for the individual Saami languages.


In Sweden, the Lantmäteriverket, in close cooperation with the Institute for Language and Folklore (Språk- och folkminneinstitutet) and the Swedish National Heritage Board (Riksantikvarieämbetet) acts as the national authority for the standardization of geographical names. In addition a Place-Name Advisory Board (Ortsnamsrådet) is associated to the Lantmäteriverket in order to give advice and support in questions of principle.  Authorized geographical names are kept in a place-name database developed and maintained by the Lantmäteriverket.