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Most of the visa forms online require you to enter first name, middle name, last name combinations. This works only if your name follows the "first name - family name" format. In many parts of the world people use the patronymic form of naming where your name would have your father's name and there is no mention of a family name.

So how would you convert such a name into first, middle and last name?

For example, if my name is S Gokula Krishnan (S being the first letter of my dad's name, Sundar) how would I convert this?

Note: the example is given to provide clarity to the question and not to narrow down the scope of the answer.

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First, you have to use what's on your passport. Some countries have a “full name” field, which does need to be converted in some way, but many have a “surname” and a “given names” field, which can be assimilated to “last name“ and “first names“ even if some of their citizens actually have other types of names (mononym, patronym, “post names”…). Thus, in Iceland, the patronym is used as “surname“ even though it is not a “last name“ or “family name“.

If that's your case, you can simply use the “surname“ as “last name“ and the “given name“ as “first name“, even if that's not the way you usually think about your name. Asking for “middle names“ isn't particularly common, possibly even peculiarly American. I would just leave that empty. As long as the names on the visa matches those in the passport, you won't have any problem as far as travel is concerned.

Otherwise there are common tricks that should be pretty safe like putting your full name in both fields or putting the full name in the “last name”/“surname” field and something like “+“ in the “first name” field. The US uses another convention, putting “FNU” (for “first name unknown“) in the “first name” field.

Some of these tricks can create (usually surmountable) difficulties in other situations, e.g. when registering as a resident, marrying or having children abroad, getting citizenship or doing anything that requires a birth certificate, but they should at least work fine for visas and travel purposes.

  • Could you explain what would I do if my passport has surname and given name fields whereas the visa application has first, middle and last name fields? – gokul_uf Apr 18 '15 at 8:24
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    @Gokul_uf Use the “surname“ as “last name“, “given name“ as “first name“ and let “middle name“ empty. I edited the answer to clarify that. Only issue is that some people might call you “Mr. name-of-your-father“, which obviously isn't your name. – Relaxed Apr 18 '15 at 8:32

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