I plan to apply for my MS degree in Europe or the United States. The problem is that my name – written in English – becomes a single name with no last name.

Persian: حسیب الله
English: Haseebullah

My passport and all my degrees and certificates bear my name in this format. All the forms for visa and university admission on paper or online makes it mandatory to give a last name.

  • What should I write in the last name section?
  • Will it affect my chances of admission and visa if I have a single name?
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    Welcome to expatriates.SE. Have you tried writing N/A? – Karlson Jun 9 '14 at 17:26
  • @Karlson No I haven't applied yet. I didn't know what to write. I don't want my applications to be rejected because I filled them out incorrectly. – user2042 Jun 9 '14 at 17:57
  • See also travel.stackexchange.com/questions/20061/…, which covers a similar situation. – lambshaanxy Jun 12 '14 at 5:56
  • Can you use a patronym (or matronym): e.g. Haseebulah bin Ali – RoboKaren Dec 30 '14 at 5:14
  • Someone I went to college with had a similar problem. His name was basically "Bob". On all his documents, his legal name was "Bob Bob". He eventually applied for US citizenship and legally changed his name to fit US standards at that time, but until then, he was stuck with the annoyance. – miltonaut Jan 1 '15 at 5:31

To immigrate to the US based on this site you should put your first name to the last name field, and put FNU to the first name.

No first/last name

Some people in South India have only one name or all the names are written in the column of a given name or surname and other field is blank. If both the given name (first name) and surname (last name) are not present in the passport, the consulate will write whatever names are written in the passport as last name (even if that is your first name), and write 'FNU' in the first name column. FNU stands for First Name Unknown.

If you have more than one name but they are all written in one name, and if you do not want 'FNU' as part of your name in the visa, you should get your passport changed before applying for the visa.

To enter the UK I only found this forum, where someone allegedly put a '-' (dash) into the last name field and was granted immigration.

You should always read the form carefully, as details like this might be hidden in them. If in the end you cannot find the necessary answer give them a call or write them, so you won't end up declined because of your name.

It might also be a good idea that once you are able to enter the country to romanize your name (preferably without any acccents) and maybe also to give yourself a first or a last name (or split your name into two), as it will make things much easier in the long end, even if you dislike the fact that you will be known in a different name. In the UK for example you can just start calling yourself as you want to, but you might need to use a name change deed poll to get it also recognized by the government, or with some institutions, like banks.

  • Thank you for your answer, I had stumbled upon the first link while searching on google but not the second one. So there's no universal rule for people with single name? – user2042 Jun 9 '14 at 17:59
  • Yes, I plan to read it thoroughly before filling the form but I am not just concerned about the immediate future. I was thinking of cases where I would like/have to open a bank account, get a drivers license or filling out an employment form. I was wondering if it would create problems for me there. – user2042 Jun 9 '14 at 18:10
  • @Zindarod You will always have a lot of explaining to do, most people in many European countries will be genuinely surprised to hear that you don't have a first and a last name. – Gala Jun 9 '14 at 19:20
  • @Zindarod an Indonesian professor at my undergraduate university was entered into the computer system with the first name "MR." – phoog Sep 11 '14 at 13:12

I know a few people without first or last name (they are from Indonesia). IIRC, they split their name more-or-less arbitrarily or added a nickname as first name and managed that way. One caveat is that the Indonesian authorities were apparently willing to put something like that in their passport in the first place.

I also know people whose name was modified when applying for a passport (e.g. middle name or nickname used instead of their actual last name). They would typically use their “new names” for all official purposes and let their friends use what they regard as their real names. In most cases, you only need to be able to show a passport and consistently use the name that's on it. It's only when you need documents from your country of origin like diplomas (to register at a university) or a birth certificate (e.g. to marry) that the issue might come up.

If anything, I suspect that in cultures that make this distinction the last name is generally more important/meaningful so if you can help it at all, omit the “first name” and put your name in the last name field. But if your name is under the “first name” rubric in your passport, that could create problems too.

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    I can add a last name in my passport but then my passport name will not completely match with the name on my bachelors diploma. Will that be an issue? – user2042 Jun 10 '14 at 4:50
  • @Zindarod Honestly I don't know. Like I said the people I know were able to sort it out but I don't know all the details and it did create problem at times. You might want to contact the universities you are most interested in and ask about it. I wouldn't be too concerned about the other things (bank account and the like). – Gala Jun 10 '14 at 8:11
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    @Zindarod I doubt the name difference on the diploma would be an issue in the US, but Europe seems to take diplomas more seriously, so it might be there. If you can legally change your name by adopting a surname, you would have a document to explain the difference. I guess you don't want to do that, however -- I doubt I would if I were in your shoes. Since others have no doubt gone before you with a single name (see "MR" professor in another comment of mine), you might just try asking the consular officials who will process your application how to fill out the forms given your one-name status. – phoog Sep 11 '14 at 13:17