Surname Problems: Passport vs Certificates, Marksheets and Documents

Raghu Application 704 Comments

A couple of more questions about missing surname in Indian passport or surname not matching with name in certificates and documents.

I have posted several articles in the same topic, but I keep getting email related to the same problem. Most people panic after reading a single blog post about potential problem they can face when names mismatch (or empty surname) in the passport. And  send an email or post a comment right away.  I received couple questions this week

Read the following blog post on How to Change Name in Passport while in US (and how life gets complicated) before proceeding below. It will give an idea of the problems you will face while in US with the empty surname in the passport.

Arun Asks

My name is Arun M V. I came to know that last name is important in US. So, did Indian passport will be issued in name format Arun M VXXX. Because the full name Arun MXXX VXXX is too much long. I have all the records as Arun M V. Is the name in GRE,TOEFL should be same as in the University application.

I have seen many people, University Faculty in US of Indian origin have their names in format Arun M VXXX. If the Indian Passport does’nt allow this,how it can be possible?
Or can I give my name as Arun VXXX eliminating my Middle name.

Pankil Asks

I have a problem/confusion. My name is mentioned as

Given Names: Pankil DXXX
Last Name: SXXX in passport.

My degrees have it as SXXX Pankil DXXX. I am already in US and working on H1B. So I have SSN which has my first name Last name. Should I be worried about having different names on these documents? I plan to take GMAT by end of 2010. Any information you can provide will be very helpful.

Surname – Passport vs Certificates

In India, we are used to have names with initials, instead of using Full Name. When applying for a passport, well those dang travel agents mess up the things, don’t they? Most of us unaware of potential problems that one can run into while applying for GRE Exam, TOEFL, F1 Visa, SSN, Driving License, etc.

Possible Name Combination’s

  • Certificates – Arun MV
  • Birth Certificate – MV Arun
  • College Marksheets – MV Arun
  • Documents – Arun V (or MXXX Arun VXXX)

You have to remember this – Name mismatch between a passport and certificates not a major problem at all. That’s something that can be will fix. Don’t worry about changing names in your certificates and documents.

Names in Passport

Having cleared one problem above, let’s talk about name’s in the passport. I can think of possible variations

Combination 1:

  • Given Name – Arun
  • Middle Name – MXXX
  • Surname – VXXX

Combination 2:

  • Given Name – Arun MXXX
  • Middle Name – Empty
  • Surname – VXXX

Combination 3:

  • Given Name – Arun M V
  • Middle Name – Empty
  • Surname – Empty

Of all the above 3 possibilities, the last one is the most problematic. As long as you have Surname in your passport, you will not have MAJOR problems. If there is no surname in your passport, stop right here and get your name changes in your passport first before going forward with any application or study abroad process.

Empty (or blank) Surname in Passport equals TROUBLE.

If you already applied (or received) passport without a surname, get that fixed. Talk to the local passport office to find out passport name change procedure and get it done. NOW. You may have additional if’s and buts like

I already booked dates for GRE Exam? What shall I do?

The answer is the same, change the name in passport, rebuke GRE again. If you try to save GRE exam fees, you have bigger problems awaiting you.

GRE, TOEFL and College Application

Now, we have cleared 2 issues related to names (documents and passport). Now, let’s assume you have a passport with a surname that doesn’t match with the names on your documents.

  • GRE, TOEFL, GMAT (or other exams) – Book dates based on name in passport, not documents. Use the name as provided in the passport.
  • College Application – Use the name as per passport. Remember that name in your passport will be your identity.

Going forward to use the name “as-is” from your passport. It’s absolutely ok to have different names from your degree certificates. Only university is going to use your certificates, but every other department is going to use your passport. That’s one of the reason, you have to include a copy of the passport front page with your application documents.

While filling out college application, you will see a question (or similar)

  • List other names used in your application documents.

You would have to enter various names used in your documents. If there is no such question, attach additional page to list the various names in different documents. That document must clearly state that documents submitted along with the application will have the following names, which will be different from the name in the passport.

Make sure you read  how Praveen added surname in passport after getting his I-20 due to name mismatch.

The bottom line is this

  • Your passport MUST contain surname (last name)
  • Name in GRE (TOEFL or IELTS or GMAT) score report should match with name in passport.


Comments to this blog post is closed. You can post further questions in the forums.


  1. Hi , I need your help. I will have my surname but can I get rid of my initials when I renew my passport ? my current passport has Rxx Sxxxx ( Given Name) and Mxxxxx Kxxxx Sxxxx ( Sir Name which is my initials ) I just want to keep Rxx ( Given Name) and Sxxxx ( Surname) and all my other certificate from college to bank has my name printed as Rxx Sxxxx M K so will it be a problem ?
    Please assist me Thank you

  2. While making a passport can a two surname make a problem while both the surname is for the same candidate as one surname is her real one as in birth certificate while the other is the one from her husband and in other documents she has her husband’s surname.. So what possible measures can we take in such a case… Or can affidavit form noting that both the surname signifies the same person works while applying for a passport?

    Sir My Name Is Prainshu Nanda, In my 10th certificate only Prainshu is written and i all educational certificates only Prainshu is written. Other documents like adharcard, votercard, driving licence my name was Prainshu Nanda written. And i already have mu passport by name of Prainshu only. So can i use my surname in passport on proof of adharcard, votercard, licence but educational proof. If any possibility to use my surname and if it happens then is it make trouble in future or in Abroad. THANKYOU

  4. plese help me my father surname is not metion any problem if i want to go abroad

  5. I have to applied for passport . But my father name in some documents is tarsem Kumar Sharma and in some it is tarsem Kumar .will it going to create any problem??

  6. My Surname in Matriculation Certificate is spelled as MOHAJAN, but in Digree Certificate spelled as MAHAJAN. In my Office Records & Other documents like PAN CARD,RATION CARD & in ADAHAR CARD it is spelled as MAHAJAN. At the time of retirement the Pay & Accounts Office recorded my Surname as ‘MOHAJAN’ but the Pension Disbursing Authority(BANK) recorded my Surname as MAHAJAN. While representing for revision of Pension, I am to mention my Surname as MOHAJAN, although in my all Official records it is recorded as MAHAJAN. The Pay & Accounts Office did not intimate me the reason of change in the spelling as MOHAJAN instead of MAHAJAN.I write my surname as MAHAJAN since the office records, PAN CARD, AADHAR CARD,RATION CARD etc carry the spelling as MAHAJAN. What should I do .

  7. Hello Sir
    My name is in 10th standard markksheet irshad but in my all documents like Adhar Card Pan Card my name is Irshad Khan and I applied for Passport as name Irshad Khan
    William it create problem, please sir tell me as soon as possible.

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