I'm an Italian national and I've just found out that have a second personal second name. However, when I was born, my parents separated it with a comma, which makes it legally invalid in Italy. This means that all my documents (passport, drivers license, marriage certificate, etc.) only have my first name.

The second name only appears on the notary act of birth.

Now I'm the process of applying for a green card and I'm wondering what I should declare since my second name is not legally valid in Italy.

  • Can you edit your question to indicate whether this is a second personal (Christian) name, or a second family name (surname). (Or something more complex like an Icelandic patronymic or an Roman gens.) Also, does your birth certificate show this second name? Commented Mar 26, 2019 at 10:07
  • the second personal name is only shown on the notary act of birth. My birth certificate only shows my first name. This is pretty complicated, isn't it?
    – Brian
    Commented Mar 26, 2019 at 10:23
  • Will you need to show the "notary act of birth" (I don't know how that differs from your birth certificate) to the US authorities at any point? Commented Mar 26, 2019 at 11:36
  • Notaries in the US (except Louisiana and Puerto Rico) have less authority than Europe. In US there's no such thing as a notary act of birth. Maybe USCIS and US State Department know what a notary act of birth is, but nobody else will ask about it. You might want to find a clearer explanation of "legally invalid". Name laws in US are fuzzy and the concept of a name being "legally invalid" doesn't really exist. Commented Mar 26, 2019 at 12:51
  • I'm not sure I need the notary act of birth or the birth certificate, that's why I'm a bit freaked out.
    – Brian
    Commented Mar 26, 2019 at 13:14

1 Answer 1


The first rule is Don't Panic. The USA has much less fixed rules on what "your name" is. Despite Facebook's assertions to the contrary, there really isn't such a thing as "your legal name" in the US.

I would not list your second name on your application. Try and avoid sending the "act of birth" certification (which appears to be a fuller birth certificate), and just send the normal birth certificate.

In the unlikely event that the State Department asks for the "act of birth", obviously you must send it. In that case write a covering letter explaining that because of the separating comma the name is not legally valid in Italy and hence all your other documents don't show it.

  • thanks! I made a lot of phone call yesterday and I got to the same conclusions.
    – Brian
    Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 9:10

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