My full name is four names long - First name, Middle name, Middle name, Last name. Whenever asked for my Given Name I have always supplied my First name (not either of my middle names).

This week I have applied for a Canadian eTA, and put (as per usual) my First name only into the Given Name(s) field.

But now I'm wondering, should I have included my middle names also into that form? In my passport I have all four names printed.

  • 1
    I know quite a few people with 4 part names where the first two were clearly 'first name' (it's what they always went by), the third was 'middle name' (and in one case, maiden name), and the fourth was 'last name'. But I also know people with 4 part names where it's 'first/first/last/last' and 'first/middle/middle/last'. Of course, the 'what you go by' doesn't always match 'legal'. (my family goes by 'first/middle' when talking about each other, as there are so many with the same first & last names, and there are a lot of people at my work who go by their middle name)
    – Joe
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 15:48
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    Well, I have a 5-part name which goes first-first, middle, middle, last. Causes no end of bureaucratic confusion. You shouldn't enter parts that don't belong in a field into another though, adding middle names to first one would just cause confusion
    – user61942
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 16:55
  • Re: "In my passport I have all four names printed": Could you elaborate on this? Does your passport have a single 'Full Name' field with your entire full name? Or is your name divided among different fields in the passport? If the latter, then -- what are the fields, and which parts of your name are in each?
    – ruakh
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 17:32
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    @GeorgeM but passports only have two name fields, called in the ICAO standard "primary identifier" and "secondary identifier." The former is the family name, and the latter is the given names. All of them.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 18:02
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    @SebastiaanvandenBroek "van den" are not middle names though. They are called "tussenvoegsel" in Dutch, which is part of the last name.
    – Belle
    Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 8:00

6 Answers 6


According to the help file from the Canadian government for filling out the ETA it says the following on the application:

Given name(s) / first name(s)
Please enter exactly as shown on your passport or identity document

Source: https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/ircc/migration/ircc/english/pdf/eta/english.pdf (Page 11)

So you should put it in, exactly like it says on the passport.

If you're not sure what you should put in (not just two name forms, non-latin script) and your passport has a machine readable zone, you should probably use the names in the same grouping as done there.

The format are two lines at the bottom of the identity page of your passport where the first line is of the following format: P[4 unimportant letters][family name with blanks and other non-latin characters replaced by <]<<[given names also separated by <] ([] being used by me to separate the fields).

Note that the ETA help pdf has some more detailed explanations that are worth reading for everyone with unusual name(s).

  • 14
    While the other answers explore the question of what a given name may or may not be, this is the practical answer: your visa needs to match your passport, so use whatever is printed in there.
    – Dancrumb
    Commented Sep 22, 2019 at 14:47
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    This doesn't remove the confusion. For example, I have a first name, a patronymic, and a family name. My passport has bilingually named fields, and it calls them "name", "father's name" and "surname" in English. Nowhere does it use the term "given name" or "first name". Taking it rather literally, I would have expected only the "name" to be required by officials, since the patronymic doesn't function at all as a given name in Western cultures - but officials in Western Europe have seen it differently so far and tend to insist on the patronymic to be listed on forms asking for given name.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 7:37
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    @rumtscho Interesting! Does it have a machine readable field at the bottom? If so I'd expect that to be the "correct" version, since its format only allows for given/family name. The PDF actually has additional information about what to do with "father's name" (leave it off), but I didn't think it would be helpful to the OP but it might be useful for others, I'll add them later.
    – Voo
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 8:10
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    @Ray Do you know how the russian passport matches these names onto the machine readable fields? (Or does it not follow the standard? I'd think they would)
    – Voo
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 16:14
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    @Voo the Russian passport doesn't include the father's name in the machine readable zone.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 18:01

"my First name only into the Given Name(s) field"

If it asked for "first name" a single name might be acceptable. But it didn't.

Notice the "(s)". That means that there can be more than one name.

Notice the "Given", that means all but your family name, which was inherited not given.

The form didn't ask for "First name"; it asked for "Given name(s)".

Many countries are improving their forms by saying "Given" rather than "First", since there are many societies where the first name is actually the family name. (e.g. in Chinese, "Xi Jinping", "Xi Jin Ping", and "Xi Jin-Ping" are all valid Romanizations of "习近平". "Xi" is first, but it is the family name.)

EDIT: @Voo says that the form contains this instruction:

Please enter exactly as shown on your passport or travel document.

That should remove any confusion. Whatever names are on the passport you are going to be using should be the names you use on the form. No more, no less.

  • 3
    that means all but your family name - where is that defined though? I've never known it to be used/required that way. And the (s) to me would refer to names like Juan Pablo or Mary Kate where the first name is actually two names?
    – Midavalo
    Commented Sep 22, 2019 at 4:29
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    @Midavalo It says so on the actual form: "Given name(s) / first name(s): Please enter exactly as shown on your passport or identity document".
    – Voo
    Commented Sep 22, 2019 at 14:14
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    The reason it says "given name(s) / first name(s)" is because some people have multiple or hyphenated first names ("Jean-Claude Van Damme" / "Jamie Lee Curtis") - this comes down to how the parents have the birth certificate filled out, which contains separate fields for "first name(s)" / "middle name(s)" / "last name(s)". It's the "first name(s)" that should be entered, not also the "middle name(s)" - check your birth certificate to make sure! Commented Sep 22, 2019 at 23:14
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    @Midavalo Indeed, the very form linked to here adds to the confusion by stating: "First name is also known as given name" (on page 11). When you put it all together you can work out what they want, but it is quite a poorly worded form. The phrase "Please enter exactly as shown on your passport", by itself, doesn't clarify anything at all as to whether one or multiple names are wanted. I therefore don't agree that "that should remove any confusion". The word "name(s)" is the only part which really helps to remove confusion.
    – JBentley
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 15:15
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    @Chronocidal that is incorrect. "Given names" comprises all the names other than the surname. Look for a Canadian passport image online. You'll see that it corresponds to the French "Prénoms," which is in the plural. Middle names are just as given as are first names, and few cultures even make a distinction between them.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 18:07

My name is (based on catholic), using the same form as David's answer:

  • A: given (first) name
  • B: middle name 1 (or second first name)
  • C: middle name 2 (or third first name)
  • D: middle name 3 (or fourth first name)
  • E: family/surname

To make things even more complicated, my nickname is different than A; it is not in any official paper. So, on my passport I have to use A until D, and not my nickname.


If your first and two middle names are printed under ‘Given names’ in your passport, and you are asked to provide ‘Given name(s)’ not ‘First name’, you should include all three.

Example: I just applied for an ESTA. I have a first and middle name (I’m known by my middle, not first, name), and my passport shows both names under ‘Given names’ and in the machine readable data section. When I uploaded this section during the application process, the system captured both names in the ‘Given names’ section of the application.

Other examples: https://www.canadavisa.com/canada-immigration-discussion-board/threads/is-middle-name-part-of-given-name.202730/

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    Correct answer, but note that the form itself rather unhelpfully does not make a distinction between first / given names ("First name is also known as given name" on page 11).
    – JBentley
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 15:18

At least for the Canadian passport application, Given name(s) IS defined as first AND middle names. There is no 'culture' argument involved here. However, there are actually some exceptions that would allow for your passport name to not match your DEC (ex. proof of citizenship, birth certificate) as long as it matches another form of ID (ex. driver's license). It is considered acceptable to drop one or more of your given names from appearing on your passport; If your birth certificate lists your name as Jane Lyn Doe, you may apply for a passport requesting the name Jane Doe OR Lyn Doe, as long as one given name is present. It also doesn't matter what order your given names come in; If your birth certificate lists your name as Jane Lyn Doe, your passport can have your name as Lyn Jane Doe. You just have to have another form of ID that matches this.

As far as applying for Visas, your name should appear as it does on your passport, so whichever decision you made for your passport, I advise doing the same for your visa. I personally ran into an issue adding my middle name to my visa application when my passport did not have it. Generally you won't run into an issue doing it the other way around though, dropping given names are more acceptable than adding them.

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    Welcome to Travel and hope you stick around. While we definitely prefer answers with sources to back them up, this is a very common-sense one.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 16:42

Your title question is answered by your question itself: you consider your middle names as middle names, and not as your first name. Thus, I would complete applications so as to track your passport names as closely as possible.

In my culture, it'd go like this:

  • A = given (first) name
  • B = middle name #1
  • C = middle name #2
  • D = family/surname

Like this:

If the application has only two fields, enter A and D in the appropriate fields.

If the application has three fields, enter A in the first field, B and C (with an intervening space if possible) in the second field, and D in the third space.

Different cultures may attribute names differently.

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    But given names are all of the names other than the family name(s).
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 22, 2019 at 0:28
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    Depends on the culture, I think. In the culture I'm familiar with, it isn't. But may well be so in others. I'll amend the answer to reflect this. Commented Sep 22, 2019 at 0:29
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    If the application has one ‘Given names’ field, enter A, B, and C.
    – Traveller
    Commented Sep 22, 2019 at 6:26
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    @David My point is that I have never seen a passport with more than two fields for name - given and family or however you want to phrase it. Hence A-C are lumped together in a single field, which is also what you're expected to use on any visa application or similar I've ever seen - that's certainly what's expected for the ETA. Just imagine the complications.
    – Voo
    Commented Sep 22, 2019 at 14:20
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    @David which rather contradicts this answer, doesn't it?
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 22, 2019 at 18:41

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