I live in Japan. I have an alien card and Australian passport lists surname first then given names. Assuming you have two names at least listed, do all internationally acceptable ID list surname then given name? I ask because I had a problem with a bank who asked for given names then surname and then I had a problem because their system actually wanted the names to match my ID.

I think people are a little confused about this question- it the order of names on the document and that counts for their ID check not the whether they have my surname correct. If I filled their web form to complete my ID check I would have had to put my names in the wrong form fields. It is a pain to get the clerk to fix the mess as I had to- write out very carefully on forms and they still stuffed up some it so I had to some of it by mail.

  • What do you mean by "international used ID"? How exactly does the question relate to the situation you encountered in Japan?
    – fkraiem
    Sep 27, 2018 at 5:18
  • I registered for a car share company, following their instruction to enter my name into the registration form exactly as it appears on my driver's license, which shows my surname first. They consequently send me e-mail messages composed in a colloquial style, that are clearly supposed to start with "Hi, Bob!" but instead start with "Hi, Cratchit!" (no, I'm not Bob Cratchit, but you get the idea).
    – phoog
    Sep 27, 2018 at 16:54
  • Order of names may vary depend on the place. You have bank account mean you stayed/will stay for a long enough time. Please consider to remember the vocabulary. For example, 姓 means family name and 名 is name.
    – Binh
    Sep 28, 2018 at 6:26
  • This question title is about name order on ID, but I think the question is actually about the broken registration form for a particular bank Oct 20, 2018 at 18:09
  • The question title is the one to answer with specific examples. Oct 21, 2018 at 1:35

2 Answers 2


I also live in Japan. I can't answer about "all" international IDs, but in Japan it's normally surname then first name. Since I have two first names a middle name and a surname, that's four names in total. When opening a bank account or signing a contract, I usually count the number of boxes first before deciding on whether to write my full name (almost always not enough space) or just the surname and the shorter one of my first names. But I didn't know this before and so one of my first names got truncated in a weird place. (e.g. Lee John Michael, so instead of リー ジョン マイケル it was cut to リー ジョン マイ or Lee John Mi)

In your case, if you don't speak Japanese well enough yet, I recommend asking someone who does to accompany you when you open a bank account. That way s/he can help you explain to the clerk which is your surname and your first name. You probably also need to write them in Katakana.

  • It is Saitama Resona and they list First Name field then Surname field on their internal account computer form. I only needed to write because their system is a mess. Sep 27, 2018 at 6:54
  • Sorry to hear that. It says here that you can change your name at any of their branches. If you apply at a different branch to where you registered, they'll just accept your application on the day of your visit and will complete the procedure at a latter date. You'll need to bring the seal that you used (if you have multiple accounts, bring all seals), the seal that you plan to use frow now on, your atm card, your bank book, and a valid ID.
    – XVD
    Sep 27, 2018 at 7:54
  • (continued) For ID, I suggest that you bring your Residence Card (Zaryu Kado) as it should display your full name: Surname-First-Middle names. It says under Attention that you need to call the branch in advance if you have questions about transactions on current deposits, foreign currency exchange, investment funds, etc.
    – XVD
    Sep 27, 2018 at 7:58
  • I did bring my Residence Card (Zaryu Kado)- only item with my address. I am not about changing my name listing on their account although I have no idea what they regard as my surname- I had to fill in my full name on paper- but their infra-bank computer forum. Same name order on my passport and residence card. Sep 28, 2018 at 1:23

For passports which are ICAO compliant - this question can be answered by referring to the ePassport Standard - ICAO 9303.

Specifically you'll need to refer to "Convention for Writing the Name of the Holder":

Extract from the ICAO Standard 9303

Essentially the Passport standard allows the issuing country to determine which part of the name is:

  • Primary Identifier
  • Secondary Identifier

In general, the Primary identifier is suggested to be the persons surname - but this is entirely up to the issuer.

Forenames in general are usually the "Secondary Identifier"

This standard however will only apply for ICAO Compliant ePassports - so for national ID cards - this definition doesn't have to apply.

  • 1
    That doesn't say primary identifier has to be listed first. Sep 27, 2018 at 6:52
  • Many ID cards are also ICAO compliant, including most if not all in the EU, but image search suggests that the Japanese alien's card is not. It seems to list the entire name in a single field, showing the surname and then given names, without any punctuation.
    – phoog
    Sep 27, 2018 at 16:32

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