Applying at US Universities with Blank Surname in Passport

In India, students who apply for passports tend to encounter problems concerning their surnames.

Some students give incorrect names when booking dates for GRE exam and end up having GRE score sheets with names different from their names in their passport.

Dilip has a similar issue with his surname and he posted the following comment at the post, Empty Surname in the Passport.


My surname – Surapuram
First name – Dilip

In Passport
Surname – blank
Given Name – Dilip Surapuram

In Certificates
Name: Surapuram Dilip

Will this create any problem at the time of visa/admission in USA?
What should I use when applying for GRE?
Or should I get a change in my surname and given name in my passport?
When applying for GRE, should I give the passport Ref. No.?
If I apply for GRE without changing names in my passport and after that can I changed the names in my passport, will the passport Ref. No. gets changed after correcting my names in them?

Blank Surname in Passport

Dilip, it’s good to know that you asked this question before booking the dates for your GRE exam. Many students just start getting concerned about their missing surnames when they’re already applying at universities after they have taken their GRE tests.

  • Will this create any problem at the time of my visa/admission in the USA?

Yes, it will bring you a lot of problems in the US because not having any surname in the passport is something not allowed. So even before taking a GRE test, get your name corrected in the passport. Don’t even think about booking for GRE exam dates before you have your new passport with a surname. Maybe you need to have a surname in your passport with something like

  • Given Name – Dilip
  • Surname – Surapuram

For your GRE, you need to use names that match those in your passport. Then after taking GRE you can change the name in passport, but NOT in ETS score report.

Related: Missing Surname Problems in Indian Passport


  1. Shalini on August 2, 2017 at 1:05 AM

    Hi ,

    I am planning to appear for GRE and I was wondering if you can help me with below query:

    My full name in all legal documents is SHALINI including mark sheets and Passport.

    While creating the account with ETS they advised me to write LAST NAME as SHALINI only and it won’t create problem while appearing for the exam.

    So, will there be any problem when I will be applying to universities in US and if yes, how can I correct it cause I don’t have surname as such and its always SHALINI unlike the cases listed above where they do have surname but have been printed incorrectly on passport etc.

    Any suggestions are highly appreciated.

    Thank you in advance.

    • Rakhi on May 5, 2018 at 12:07 PM

      Hi Shalini , I’m facing same problem as you did. So I want to know what is the procedure you followed?Did you got admission in any university?

  2. ashish on October 8, 2015 at 12:40 AM

    Your Comment – hii abhinav
    i land up in the same problem as urs..
    did u get any solution for it..
    if so…
    can u please suggest me..
    it wil be very helpful for me
    thank u 🙂

  3. sam on June 6, 2014 at 10:36 AM


    I have the similar problem.

    My given name is Sxxxxx Mxxxxx in the passport and the surname is missing. I heard name mismatch is a problem while taking the GRE so I contacted ETS and they got back asking me to enter my given name as SxxxxxMxxxxx and last name also as SxxxxxMxxxxx. With that name, I wrote the GRE.
    Now, I am wondering if I should apply with the same name in the passport or have it changed before applying. In this case, there will be a mismatch between the ets score report name and the passport name.
    Or should I wait and change my name after applying and notify the colleges about the change?

  4. Ambili on February 16, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    what is I dont have a surname at all. it is simply Ambili. then what do I do?

    • Raghuram Sukumar on February 16, 2014 at 9:20 AM

      Get new passport with surname.

  5. Sruthi on January 24, 2014 at 6:56 AM

    This is sruthi, i’m about to apply for my passport, i’m struck with surname field, my parents got separated while i was young , i really don’t want to use my father’s name as my surname. Is there any possibility that i can use my mom’s family name as my surname . If its possible , i have my school and proof with initial of my father, will it affect my Visa process .

    I Will Grateful for your answers.

    • Raghuram Sukumar on January 24, 2014 at 8:08 AM

      For admission and visa, having your moms surname will not be an issue.

      • Sruthi on January 26, 2014 at 4:08 AM

        Thank you so much Mr.Raghuram. This really helps.

  6. Kiran Kumar on February 20, 2013 at 3:59 AM

    hi, my name is Kiran Kumar, actually i have taken passport in 2005 and in the given name column of the passport it was mentioned with my surname Kiran Kumar Ande, Ande was my surname, now the passport is going to expire in 2015, till now i have not used my pass passport for going abroad but now i want to phD in abroad and i appeared ielts exam with the same passport naming Kiran Kumar Ande, now i want to change my surname or i should take new passport help me kindly and what are documents to be attached for this name change.

  7. rohit on December 19, 2012 at 2:33 PM


    This post is regarding doubts of NO SURNAME in my passport.
    My situation is like this:

    My Passport:
    Last Name: blank
    First Name: ROHIT KUMAR

    Last name: Kumar
    First Name: Rohit

    My universities where I had applied:
    Last name: Rohit Kumar
    First name: Rohit Kumar

    Its a big conundrum .
    Please suggest me what should I do in this case.

    1) Should I add my surname(XXX) in my passport.
    Eg. Surname: XXX
    First name: Rohit Kumar

    2) Bifurcate my name in passport
    eg Surname: Kumar
    First name: Rohit

    Please revert as I am in big problem now.
    Thanks in Advance.

  8. abhinand on August 2, 2012 at 10:54 PM

    How much of a hurdle am i going to face if i do not have a surname ? Most people have names as XXXX YYYY , but my family thought i could do without a surname and named me as just XXXX. I already obtained my passport where they left my surname field blank. I also took my GRE and TOEFL, where i was asked to fill the surname field with periods ( . ) . but in the score card my name came out as ‘XXXX XXXX’, where both my first and last name fields were filled with the same given name(XXXX). When i called ETS , i was told that this was the standard procedure followed for people with no last name..

  9. Avinash on June 25, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    MY name in marks card is Avinash.T.V can any one tell how to write surname and given name ?????
    here full name is Avinash Tovinakere VenkatanarayanaRao
    kindly help even for my father name also his name in marks card is Venkatanarayana Rao.T.K
    his full name is Venkatanarayana Rao Tovinakere Krishnappa

    kindly tell me correct way to write in passport for me and as well as for father also………????

  10. Manik on April 9, 2012 at 7:20 AM

    My name in school certificate Manik Chandra Dey & My Father name Manindra Chandra Dey but my others documents is Manik Dey & Father name Manindra Dey i apply for new passport in India please write my can i apply for passport.

  11. SHAHID ANJUM on October 22, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    my first name is SHAHID and my last name is ANJUM.
    all my certificates show SHAHID ANJUM.
    now i m applying for a fresh passport.
    what should i fill in the given name place and in the surname place and how it will be indicated in my passport???
    please help

  12. Ganesh on October 11, 2011 at 12:02 PM

    hey my names is ganesh kumar but my surname is blank. i read somewhere that you could give your exam by putting a .(dot) at your last name column. now is it possible for me to give the exam now and then later change my last name? would i face some problems later? plz reply eagerly waiting for your response.

  13. Brizio on September 27, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    My surname is Di DonXXX. In the GRE application they ask to write it without space, but they say that I can use hyphens. Does it mean that I will have to write DiDonXXX or Di-DonXXX?

  14. Ashwin Kumar Goyal on June 8, 2011 at 4:40 AM

    I have a problem with my passport.
    My Surname in passport: –Blank–
    My Given name in passport: Ashwin Kumar Goyal
    In All my certificates, documents,etc my name is : Ashwin Kumar Goyal
    Now how should my given name and surname be in my passport? Kindly help me. Please tell me how do i enter my surname and given name in my passport.
    Kindly mail me.
    Thanks in advance
    Ashwin kumar Goyal

  15. jagroop singh on June 2, 2011 at 8:45 PM

    i have a problem , my first name on passport is jagroop singh and no last name, and my name on the us visa visa is first name – fnu and last name jagroop singh.
    what can i do now .
    please repy soon.

  16. Srinath on May 29, 2011 at 6:39 AM

    Hi, i have a query.
    My Given name on Passport is SRINATH KOLLEGAL BADARINATH
    But on I-20 it says Surname: KOLLEGAL BADARINATH
    First name : SRINATH
    In Passport my surname is Blank, i have only given name.
    Now what should i do? I can as well go ahead and change the name on the I-20 but i dont want to do that because even if i change it now it would be a problem in the future as you have mentioned in your articles.
    Now if i change the name on the passport, how long will it take for me to get the new passport? And when i do that will my PASSPORT NUMBER change?
    Please reply asap as i have to book dates for VISA..

  17. Gagandeep Singh on May 14, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    Please tell me the procedure to get Last Name added on the passport. I already have an admit. But need to add a Last Name instead of LNU. I haven’t yet started the visa process. Also tell how much time does it take?
    I reside in Delhi.

    • HSB on May 14, 2011 at 3:17 PM

      Check with your local passport office. They will issue new passport.

  18. Mansoor Pasha on April 26, 2011 at 2:56 AM

    My name is Mansoor Pasha. I already have a passport by the given name. But the surname field is blank. Will this be a problem in getting the US visa? If yes, then what is the procedure to get it changed in Indian passport. Please help me regarding my concern. Hoping a very soon reply.

  19. sai on March 31, 2011 at 12:46 AM


    I have the same problem. My whole name including first name and family name is under “Given name”, and surname is blank. I have already given GRE and got a few admits. Can i change my name in passport now before going for visa interview?? Please advise.

    Thanks in advance,


  20. Raja on March 25, 2011 at 5:25 AM


    I facing problem applying Passport due to my dad's name differ .i.e. in my school / collage certificate its Chandran and in my election Id and Bank statement / driving licence / its Chandrappa. Kindly advise..

  21. nihanth on January 1, 2011 at 7:40 AM

    Hey guys, I am planning to take up GRE in the month of april. I still haven't applied for the passport. My name in all the documents is nihanth reddy c.k. since all the initials have to be expanded, in what name should should i apply for GRE? should i use my name with all the initials expanded, as it would be in the passport? If so, it will be different on the GRE from my marks cards and other documents. wont this cause a problem..?

    please suggest a suitable solution.

  22. ravikanth on November 17, 2010 at 10:35 AM

    Please help me…..Iam facing a problem with my name in passport

    my name in passport is

    First name: ravikanth

    Last name or surname: Axxxx Vxxx

    I have given my GRE and TOEFL with the same name as in passport

    But now I want to change my name in passport as

    First name:Vxxx ravikanth

    Last name or surname: Axxxx

    which is the correct name

    Does this make my GRE and TOEFL score cards invalid?


    Can I apply for univs with the same name as in passport now(so that it won't create any conflict between scorecards and passport name) and inform them Iam planing to change my name in passport before getting I20′s ?

    Iam very much worried about this.Any one please give me a reply.

  23. K.B.Ravindranath on October 21, 2010 at 2:06 AM


    My name is K.B.Ravindranath. In which 'K' stands for my grandpa name and 'B' stands for my Fathers name as Karuppiah Balakrishnan Ravindranath. could u plz tell me the first name, last name and sur name.

  24. Ankit on October 6, 2010 at 10:16 PM


    In passport

    Surname: Susarla

    Given name: Ankit

    My Full name in all records is Susarla Ankit. I have a query regarding filling up the form to book a gre slot.. What shall i fill in place of First (given) name and Last (family) name. Plz do inform me as soon as possible

  25. Prabhu on September 3, 2010 at 4:42 AM

    When i went for submission of my online printed application form, I was asked to come again re-arranging the documents. I don't understand what they mean by arranging the documents and it is given as only one copy of proof is required but at the counter they ask for two copies of the documents. This has given me a hard time. Suggest me a solution for the above problems.

  26. Nagaraj on September 2, 2010 at 2:54 AM


    In passport,

    Given Name: Nagaraj

    Surname :Agasaladinni Mallesappa

    In my 10th,12th,BE marks card

    Given name: Nagaraja

    Initial : A.M

    As u can see in Passport Nagaraj and in marks card Nagaraja.

    I need to register for GRE ,will it going to create problem during admission process?

  27. irfan ahmed khan on August 9, 2010 at 11:02 AM

    hello HSB,
    My name: irfan ahmed khan.
    On my passport:
    given name: IRFAN AHMED KHAN
    surname: blank
    I have already booked dates for gre and toefl mentioning first name as irfan ahmed and last name as khan.
    Am confused regarding weather if i give gre and toefl and later change my name in passport,will my gre scores be still valid.
    i read your other article which is… and here you say it will not be valid but then in this article you say it is valid.I am sorry,maybe i am misunderstanding you but i would really appreciate if you could clarify.
    Waiting for reply pllzzz help!!!

    • HSB on August 9, 2010 at 1:24 PM

      I suggest you read both the blog post again. It clearly says what you have to do. There is difference between GRE Score being not valid vs valid.

  28. VISHAL on July 12, 2010 at 8:06 AM


    I have a valid passport with my name VISHAL and surname SHEHRAWAT. But in my all document records since 10th cbse marks card onwards it is only vishal till my b.e. marks card. what to do now? if i submit my documents for any course will it be a problem? i have my name in passport as VISHAL SHEHRAWAT and in marks cards as VISHAL.i have to give my GRE. What can be done now plz advice.. i m so tensed now..

  29. Saurabh singh on June 22, 2010 at 11:23 PM


    I have a valid passport with my name Saurabh and surname Sngh. Bu in my all document records since 10th cbse marks card onwards it is only Saurabh till my mbbs marks card. what to do now? if i submit my documents for any course will it be a problem? i have my name in passport as Saurabh Singh and in marks cards as Saurabh. What can be done now plz advice.. i m so tensed now..

  30. Navneet on June 20, 2010 at 11:27 PM


    m planning to give exam in coming october bt stil i dont hv my passport. So can i do register for exam nw or will do after having passport??? but i hv to give exam in october only & if now i apply for the passport in the middle of jully then it tk at least 2 months, so it is somewhat risky…

    So plz suggest me as earlist.,.,.,.,.

  31. usha on April 9, 2010 at 1:25 AM

    I dont have my lastname in any of the documents(10th,12th,B-tech & passport)and evn my father dont hav surmane……and now i have to fill online application for GRE what should i do please any one can guide me….well many peoples said me to keep first name as FNU(first name unknown) and last name as 1st name…..,,,,so vil it b fyn,,,,,or else i hav 2 change …………,,please reply me,,,,

    • HSB on April 9, 2010 at 6:12 AM

      @usha – Read this article –

    • asem on August 13, 2010 at 10:37 AM

      hello usha.

      i read ur problem of not having surname.I am also the victim of the same dilemma.if u have got the answer plz reply me.


  32. usha on April 9, 2010 at 1:24 AM

    I dont have my lastname in any of the documents(10th,12th,B-tech & passport)and evn my father dont hav surmane……and now i have to fill online application for GRE what should i do please any one can guide me….well many peoples said me to keep first name as FNU(first name unknown) and last name as 1st name…..,,,,so vil it b fyn,,,,,or else i hav 2 change …………,,please reply me,,,,


  33. Yaman Tandon on February 23, 2010 at 6:05 AM professor who were supposed to give my recommendation letter ..mistakenly gave his wrong e-mail address to me..and i filled that in my application. Now the university is asking me about the recommendation online. what should I do?? please reply soon.

  34. Anant on February 23, 2010 at 2:50 AM


    I want to clarify regarding the differences in name. I mean to say spelling difference( mismatch) in passport and marks cards. Is there any problem shall i face while applying for any visa.

    Plz urgently clarify the below doubt.

    Passport Name: Anantrao

    Marks card Name : Anantarao

    • HSB on February 23, 2010 at 7:30 AM

      You may have to correct the name in passport or apply for admission with name in passport and say in Marks Card this name was used.

  35. Happy Schools Blog on October 22, 2009 at 8:34 AM

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

    Students applying for passport have some sort of confusion on how to how to fill Given Name and Surname Field in Indian passport applications. We have written few articles related to similar problem with  Blank Surname in Indian Passport.Question

  36. shaurya on September 17, 2009 at 8:33 AM

    how will be the option if get added a surname only in my passport and keep all other records as it is?my name on the recods is "SHAURYA" i heard about the name change option in passport so how will it be if i only add surname in passport and keep the rest documents intact.

  37. Abhinav on September 16, 2009 at 5:31 AM


    I've no surname in the passport.My name is Abhinav and i actually dont have any surname.But during the Toefl and Gre registration, Surname is compulsory i ended up registering for it by stating the surname also to be Abhinav.Hence both my surname and given name on the score reports are printed as Abhinav Abhinav.I heard that in US, the surname is compulsory..will i land in trouble if i continue like this sending packets to the universities or during immigration check.I' ve already applied for two universities and planning to attend for Spring-2010 semester.Can you please reply me with a solution.

    Thanks in advance

    • easwaran on September 16, 2009 at 7:55 PM

      friend Abhinav

      you surname is your initial only expanded

      for example if your father name is govind,

      you use G.Abhinav

      so your surname is


      and your name Abhinav

      govind Abhinav will be the full name

      how did you get your passport


      but this is true

      kind regards


      • HSB on September 17, 2009 at 6:25 AM

        Abhinav – If you make a mistake first time or run into some issue when you took first exam ( GRE or TOEFL ) you should have stopped to find the right info. You are in for some tough times with the mistake.

        Without surname in US, life will be close to living in hell.

    • ashish on October 8, 2015 at 12:40 AM

      Your Comment – hii abhinav
      i land up in the same problem as urs..
      did u get any solution for it..
      if so…
      can u please suggest me..
      it wil be very helpful for me
      thank u 🙂

  38. shaurya on September 15, 2009 at 1:35 AM

    I dont have my lastname in any of the documents(10th,12th,B-tech & passport)and i have to fill online application for GRE what should i do please any one can guide me.

    • shaurya on September 17, 2009 at 8:29 AM

      how will be the option if get added a surname only in my passport and keep all other records as it is?

  39. easwaran on September 13, 2009 at 7:09 PM



    it is good to see you coming with wonderful and most important pice of information regarding name and surname

    keep it up sir



    • shaurya on November 14, 2009 at 9:49 PM

      i want to know that is this the right option to add surname only in the passport and keep the name intach on alll marksheets and will it not create any problem later regarding discrepancy in names on passport and mark sheet as after changing my name will appear on passport as "SHAURYA KATIYAR" and on all the documents it will remain as "SHAURYA"…………

      • karthikeyan on December 9, 2009 at 5:01 AM

        ya… just changing the name in the passport is required…. because in the college application forms there will be a column where you can specify the other versions of your name that would be present in your documents(eg:SHAURYA,K.SHAURYA,SHAURYA K ETC.).. SO just give




        • ramanathan on June 14, 2010 at 9:08 AM

          URGENT :

          Ive booked my GRE dates and ive given my

          first name:Ramanathan
          last name:chockalingam

          but in my passport its

          sur name:chockalingam
          given name :Ramanathan

          so will there be any problem in writing the exam or while applying for universities????in my certificates its given as wat should i do???change the name in passport or should i cancel the exam???

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