According to the current* DS-11 US Passport Application, on Page 2, under 10. Parental Information, the applicant is asked for the following two pieces of information about each parent:

  • Mother/Father/Parent - First & Middle Name
  • Last Name (at Parent's Birth)

Notably, the first field (First & Middle Name) does not have the "at Parent's Birth" qualification.

What names should be listed if the parent in question has legally changed their name? From a literal reading of the fields above, the form is asking for the current first and last name of the parent but the birth last name. For example, if my father was born as John-Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt but legally changed his name to Thor Hammerman Odinson before I was born, I would be expected to report his name on the form as Thor Hammerman Schmidt, but this seems absurd, as this would represent a name he has never used - his birth certificate presumably has John-Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt, and my birth certificate would list my father as Thor Hammerman Odinson. Am I reading too much into the form, and they intended to imply that I should put down the entire name, first, middle, and last, as it was at the parent's birth?

*Note: I am aware that the document above has an OMB Expiration Date of August 31, 2019. Current guidance from the US Department of State is to continue using this form for the time being.

This question has nothing to do with how to falsify or get away with falsifying a US passport application. Rather, it is about how to honestly answer the questions at the required level of detail without inadvertently falsifying it or otherwise causing myself or the government a headache.

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    My bureaucratic instincts tell me that you ought to use all names as they were at birth, but I can't find any official information either way. This situation is actually very rare. – Michael Hampton Sep 3 '19 at 17:58
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    I doubt it would be that rare. If I had kids, they would have this exact problem filling out this form. When it comes to government forms like this, though, unless explicit guidance exists, I take the instructions literally and would fill out first/middle as it is today, and last name as it was at birth. – Roddy of the Frozen Peas Sep 3 '19 at 19:24
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    The top of the form has a phone number and email address to reach the State Department for information and questions. I would suggest asking them instead of relying on guesses from the Internet. If you do, you could post an answer here saying what you learned. – Nate Eldredge Sep 4 '19 at 11:17
  • @RoddyoftheFrozenPeas Did your kids' parents also change their first and middle names? Consider why the State Department wants this information. They are going to go look for a birth record. In that case, they won't find it. The passport application will be delayed and possibly refused. – Michael Hampton Sep 4 '19 at 22:58
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    @MichaelHampton My point was more that it's not overly unusual. Consider, if you will, a child adopted soon after birth whose entire name is changed. We can probably all agree that it is a poorly conceived of set of questions, but not following its instructions is usually not the solution. Nate is probably correct in that the appropriate action would be to reach out for additional guidance from an official source. – Roddy of the Frozen Peas Sep 4 '19 at 23:27

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