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Family and given names

  • Family name is also known as last name or surname.
  • In Australia, the family name is the name that is shared with the rest of the family, whereas the given names are the names that are unique to an individual within the family.

General format rules

  • If you have only one name, enter that name into the family name field.

  • If you consider that you do not have a family name, enter all your given names into the family name field and leave the given names field blank.

  • All names may only contain standard English alphabetic characters, that is 'a' to 'z' or 'A' to 'Z'. 

    See Conversion rules for non-standard English alphabetic characters

    Important note: The conversion rules are only a guide to assist you to successfully proceed with your online application.

  • Apostrophes can be used in names, but must not be the first character. There must not be a space on either side of the apostrophe.

    Example: O'Toole can be entered as is but 'Alofa should be entered as Alofa.

  • Hyphens can be used in names. There must not be a space on either side of the hyphen.

    Example: Hamilton-Smith

  • The family name field and the given names field both have a maximum of 100 characters, including spaces, apostrophes and hyphens.

  • If the name you are entering in the family name field and/or given names field is longer than this maximum, then enter as much of it as you can. If you are entering more than one name in the given names field, then only enter as many as will fit completely. Do not enter partial names.

General examples

  1. JOHN SMITH

    Family name: SMITH
    Given names: JOHN

  2. JOHN PETER SMITH

    Family name: SMITH
    Given names: JOHN PETER

Specific format rules and examples

For specific format rules and examples related to different nationalities, use the following links:

Note for visa applications

Entering names incorrectly may result in denial of permission to board an aircraft to Australia, or result in delays in border processing on arrival to Australia, even if the applicant has been granted a visa.

Note for citizenship applications

Names must be entered correctly to ensure that the department can identify the applicant and to prevent any delays in processing this application.

Applicants must enter details of their name(s) exactly as they appear in their identity documents.

The applicant's name will be printed on their certificate in the following format:

  • The applicant's title will not be included on their evidence of citizenship, for example:
    • Dr James Jones will be printed as JAMES JONES
  • The applicant's entire name will be printed in upper case, for example:
    • John Smith will be printed as JOHN SMITH
  • Characters will not be printed with any diacritics, for example:
    • Á will be printed as A
    • Ç will be printed as C
    • È will be printed as E
    • A'Lofá will be printed as ALOFA
  • Generational titles will not be printed, for example:
    • John Smith IV will be printed as JOHN SMITH