Given Name vs Surname (or Last Name): Passport Applications in India

Raghuram Sukumar Application

Students applying for passports encounter a particular kind of confusion on how to fill-out the Given Name and Surname fields in their Indian passport applications.

We have already written a few articles related to this problem, namely those with Blank Surnames in Indian Passports.


Hello Sir, thanks for all the information you kept on giving us through your blog. I am in some trouble here, sir. My first name is Sriram. My father’s name, Sampath. I have all my certificates with the name – S. Sriram. When applying for my passport, what do I fill-out in the name columns with? Should the first name be Sriram Sampath or just Sriram?

Given Name vs Surname in Passport

Question 1 of Indian passport application form 1

  • Name of applicant as it should appear in the Passport (Initials not allowed)
  • Surname and Given Name

In your case, your

  • Surname is Sampath
  • Given Name is Sriram

Always remember that your Surname (or last name) is that of your dad or family name. Not everyone use their dad’s name as Surname. Instead, they have common family name which will be used as initial.

So, your family name or your dad’s name should be used as the Surname in your passport application.

  • Surname in India is equal to the Last Name used in the USA.

If you don’t have a Surname in your passport, you can still take a GRE and even get a US visa, fine.

But after that, life in US without a surname (in your passport and other legal documents or IDs) will be really tough, because getting an SSN, driver’s license, and other documents, everything requires the need for a Last Name.

Also, you will have a tough time to get all the names to match in all the documents, in case you are to use a surname in all your documents and IDs.

If you don’t have a Surname in your Indian passport (left blank) and if you are planning to go or study in the U.S, you better first add a Surname in your passport before applying for a visa or booking GRE exam dates.

Some students apply for passports without Surnames and end up facing lots of issues. It’s good to know that you are taking efforts to know the right way to fill out your passport.

Certificate Name vs Passport Name

Since here in India we follow Initial/s and Name type of naming (e.g., S. Sriram) instead if using the Full Name ( Sriram Sampath), all the certificates and documents will have S. Sriram.

There will no issues because of that. When submitting the applications to U.S. universities, there will be a field similar to this:

  • Do the documents have names different from the above name?

When you encounter this, you can include the name you normally use in India (S. Sriram) and other names formats used in the documents you are submitting.

Update – I have posted a detailed article with examples of various name formats and their corresponding possible solutions. Read: Surname Problems: Passport vs Marksheets, Certificates and Documents

Related Post


Join the Conversation At