I am a French citizen living in the USA. I have three first names, which are separated with commas in my passport and spaces in my birth certificate.

When filing forms in the USA (e.g., visa applications, driving license, etc.), should I:

  • use my first first name only
  • use all my first names separated with commas
  • use all my first names separated with spaces


  • 2
    Most Americans would probably expect you to use your second and third first names as "middle" names. We generally don't use commas except to indicate that a name is given with the family name first (as in "Dernoncourt, Franck"). In such cases, the comma appears only after the family name (as in "Bach, Carl Phillip Emmanuel").
    – phoog
    Jun 27 '16 at 19:39

In most administrative forms, you will see a field for "middle name". That's where you'd put your second and third given names, separated by spaces.

For non-governmental business, eg bank, phone company, etc., usage of anything but your first given name is not usually required. I'd recommend not using your middle names as it can cause confusion: for example people might mistake one of your middle names for part of your last name, especially if they're used to the Hispanic practice of using two last names (paternal and maternal).

For immigration, federal tax and other federal business, you should use all your names to make sure you don't run into trouble verifying your identity with your passport. Depending on the state you live in, you may also have to use all your names on a driver's license (it's the case in California with their "true full name" requirement).

On freeform documents (when you're not filling out a form), Americans do not usually place commas between given names, eg "Charles François Marie DUPONT". Then again it would be rare to use all your names except on an administrative form. There can be a comma if you're writing last name first, eg "DUPONT, Charles François Marie". Regardless of first names, you may want to capitalize your last name in all-caps to clarify where the last name begins.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.