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

Raghu Application 219 Comments

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

  • zia says:

    Hello sir. i am from bangladesh. i have only single name as “ZZZ” and it is same for all my educational documents and passports. but in passport it is written in surname and given name is blank. i am facing problem to process the indian visa. Cause given name is mandatory for indian visa. please give me a good advice… Thanx

  • Bharat says:

    sir my name is Bharat. I need to apply for my passport but my birth certificate has my name as Bharath with the additional H. Will this be a problem and if yes, what’s d solution???

  • Nitin Sridhar says:

    Hello Sir,

    My name S NITIN in 10th and 12th marksheets , NITIN S graduate degree certificate , as stated in the post i will use SRIDHARAN as surname and NITIN as first name . My doubt is regarding initials order in my degree in degree certificate and 12 th certificate , is that an issue by any chance for any admissions or job opportunity ..

    • Kiran N U says:

      I’ve got the same problem, mate. But I don’t think one has to worry too much about this issue. In case a problem arises, you just have to get a certificate from the local municipal or taluk office confirming that both names belong to the same person

  • Ritesh Agarwal says:

    Hello sir,
    In my passport surname field is blank and my complete name is written in given name field ie,VIJAY RITESH AGARWAL.
    In my all memos my name is same as that of my name in passport’s given name field.
    I have given my GRE and IELTS too and also I have applied for universities in USA for MS in CS.
    Now what should I do with blank surname in passport , should I change my passport or there is no need to change.
    Please help me out sir….
    Waiting for your reply

  • Krishna says:


    My full name in all documents is KRISHNA SHARMA V.
    My father’s name is VISHWANATHA SHARMA K.

    What I should fill in GIVEN NAME and SURNAME?

  • Karunagara Pandian says:

    Hello Raghu, this article was helpful, yet I want to clear my doubts. My name is V.S.Karunagara Pandian.

    V – grandfather’s name, S – father’s name. So please clarify me if my name can be given like this.

    Given name: Karungara Pandian
    Surname : Vellaisamy Shanmugavel

    • Raghuram Sukumar says:

      I would make it simple, if you have an option.

      Given name: Karungara
      Surname : Vellaisamy


      Given name: Pandian
      Surname : Shanmugavel

  • jokula says:

    I am applying for my new born childs passport. I would like to give my child a surname, but the problem is neither mine or my dad has their surname in the passport. Is that a problem.? Is there any proof required for the surname in such cases or I can just go ahead with adding a surname

    • Raghuram Sukumar says:

      How about Birth Certificate of the child? It should have the name right?

      • jokula says:

        There in lies the problem; In the birth cert they just asked for the name..and I added my name to the baby’s. Now, for passport I want to add the surname (since there is a column for it). And then you hear you cannot add a surname if it isnt in the birth cert , and the qn..can I add a surname ‘justlike that’? I wish they standardized every birth cert and passport applications..:(. I am lost here! How could I have added a surname in the birth cert, when there was no column for it..or should I have just added it anyway..coz thats how its done? But then how do they differntiate which is the surname in the name

  • er_sureshmali says:

    Hello Sir,

    I have one query regarding my child passport..

    Child Name : Sneha Solanki
    Father Name : Suresh Kumar Mali
    Mother Name : Chandra Mali

    I want to apply for my child passport ..My child have different surname (SOLANKI) than parents(MALI)…we are using our caste -MALI as our surname but I have updated my child surname as gotra -SOLANKI in her birth certificate…Can this will create any problem while applying for my child passport due to different surname…Plz suggest ..If any issue then what we have to do while applying for her passport..


    • Raghuram Sukumar says:

      I can’t comment on how your name change in birth certificate will impact passport application. You have to ask passport office.