Understanding Surname on Passport: Everything You Need to Know

When it comes to travelling abroad, a passport is an essential document. It serves as proof of identity and nationality, and without it, travelling to other countries can be impossible. One major detail on a passport that can cause confusion is a person’s surname. In this article, we will explore what surname on a passport is, how to fill it out correctly, and how it differs from other names.

Key takeaways:

  • The surname on a passport is the last name or family name.
  • The surname is an important detail on a passport that should match your official documents.
  • It is important to use your full legal name when filling out your passport.

What is a Surname on a Passport?

A surname on a passport is the last name of the passport holder. This name is used to identify the passport holder in various situations, including travel, identification, and legal proceedings. It is important to note that the surname on the passport should match the applicant’s official documents such as their birth certificate, driver’s license, or social security card.

How to Fill out Surname on Passport?

When filling out your passport application, it’s essential to use your full legal name, including your surname. This name should match your name on your official documents. Ensure that there are no spelling errors in your name as incorrect information can lead to issues and delays in your travel plans.

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Is Surname the Same as Given Name?

No, a surname is not the same as given name. The given name is the name that is given at birth, which is usually the first name or names, while the surname is the name of the family. Therefore, if your legal name is Jane Smith, then your given name is Jane, and your surname is Smith. It is important to note that in some cultures or countries, the order of the first and last name may differ from what is common in other countries.

What is the Difference Between Surname and Middle Name?

A middle name is a name given to a person as an additional name alongside their given name and surname. It is not part of the surname or last name, and it follows the first name. Unlike the surname, the middle name is not always required on a passport. However, if it appears in your official documents, you can include it on your passport application.

Can I Change My Surname on My Passport?

Yes, it is possible to change the surname on a passport through a legal name change process. This may occur due to marriage, divorce, or other legal reasons. To change your surname on your passport, you need to provide legal documentation that shows evidence of the name change, such as a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order.

How to Correct an Error in Your Surname on Passport?

If your passport has an error in the surname, it is vital to correct it as soon as possible. To do that, you will have to fill out a passport correction form and submit it along with other required documents. Correction for a surname can be made at any time by submitting the application, proper identification documents, and the original or certified copy of the document showing proof of the correct name.

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Why is it Important to have Correct Information on a Passport?

It is essential to have correct information on your passport to prevent any issues or delays during travel, identification, or legal proceedings. Providing incorrect information can lead to significant time and money losses, deportation, or in some cases, even criminal charges. Ensuring that your passport details match your official documents can save you from these problems, and it will also help you in the future for all other purposes.


In conclusion, understanding the surname on a passport is essential for individuals who are travelling out of their country of origin. It is important to fill out the passport application correctly, and match your name with your official documents to ensure accurate and proper identification. If you need to make any corrections or change your surname on a passport because of a legal name change, you will need to provide supporting documentation. Your passport is evidence of your identity and nationality, so get it right.


What if I am adopted and do not have a surname?

If you are legally adopted and do not have a surname, then a placeholder surname can be used on the passport application. Such names will be used as the surname, and “FNU” (“First Name Unknown”) or “LNU” (“Last Name Unknown”) will be used as the first or last name.

Can I have two surnames on my passport?

Yes, you can have two surnames on your passport if it matches your official documents. It may happen when a person has a hyphenated last name, which means that they have two surnames joined with a hyphen.

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About the Author

Latasha W. Bolt

Latasha is a travel writer based in Atlanta, Georgia. She has a degree in journalism and has been traveling the world since she was a teenager. Latasha is experienced in navigating the visa and passport application process and shares her knowledge and experiences on the blog. Her articles are personal and engaging, providing readers with a unique perspective on the joys and challenges of international travel.

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