Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

How can I propose a name change for a natural feature?

Proposals to change the name of a natural feature should be submitted to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN). There must, however, be a compelling reason to change it. The BGN is responsible by law for standardizing geographic names throughout the Federal Government and discourages name changes unless there is a compelling reason. Further, changing an existing name merely to correct or re-establish historical usage should not be a primary reason to change a name. 

Generally, the most important policy regarding names is local use and acceptance. Upon receipt of a proposal to change the name of a natural feature, or that of an unincorporated populated place, canal, channel, or reservoir, all interested parties will be asked to comment. The BGN will make a decision after Tribal, county, and local governments; State Geographic Names Authority; and appropriate land management agencies have had an opportunity to provide recommendations.  

Please note that no feature can be named for a living person. A potential honoree(s) must have been deceased for at least five years and must have had either a direct and/or long-term association with the feature or must have made notable civic contributions. 

Please read the Principles, Policies, and Procedures and then submit proposals for name changes by completing theDomestic Geographic Names form. An information packet and form can be mailed upon request. The entire process is free of charge but will take a minimum of six months. For more information, send an email to

Learn more:  Guidance on Name Proposals