First Name, Last Name, Given Name, Family Name


I am a Singaporean who chanced upon your migration blog. 

I am a student who just graduated this month in an Australian University and would like to apply australia PR. 

I have a question, do you know whether aus uni transcripts have to change our name order (e.g. from 'Ah Lian Tan' to 'Tan Ah Lian') to use it to support our PR application? Or which order is recommended? As we all know Singaporeans' family name comes before our given name, and is that way in our passports. Technically, I have less than 3 days to change the name order. =S please help many thanks!

Kind regards,
Amelia Tan

Hi Amelia,

Congrats on your graduation.

The order does not matter, as long as the family and given name is specified accurately in your transcripts. If you are using just a typical Singaporean dialect name they'll fuck it all up anyway, no matter which order you put it down as. With "Tan Ah Lian" you'll find yourself being formally addressed as Ms Lian soon enough. With "Ah Lian, Tan", future letters you receive will start with "Dear Ah", as they will assume "Lian" is your middle name instead of part of your first name.

Nonetheless, it'll all work out in the end. The naming order on your transcripts will not affect your PR application. If you wan to be consistent, put it down in the same order of your passport to minimize confusion.

As you can see in your visa application form (left), the family and given names are clearly segregated. The case officer will simply match it with your passport and figure it out eventually. The order of your name will not be an issue, as compared to ... say... an additional undocumented English name such as Amelia. (I'm assuming it's not in your passport)

In the unlikely case where you are questioned about the reverse order of your name, simply explain that we put our family name in front where we came from.


  1. I have a Christian name before my usual Chinese name. So it's (not my real name) Anne Amelia Tan Ah Lian.
    Since I've moved to Australia, there has been a lot of confusion regarding the order of names. I've decided that the best way to get Aussies to issues documents in the same order as in my passport, I fill in forms as follows:
    First Name: Anne
    Middle Name: Amelia
    Family Name: Tan Ah Lian

    So far, this has worked beautifully.

  2. "As we all know Singaporeans' family name comes before our given name, and is that way in our passports"

    Only the Chinese family name is used the same way as western counterparts but listed fiest before given name. Malay names and certain ethnic Indians have very different concepts of how personal and patryon names are used