I am Chinese. Which name is my surname and which is my last name, for a flight booking?

  • My name is Minnie Wong Qin Qing. If I put Wong as my surname, and the others as my last name, finally the full name will be:

    Minnie Qin Qing Wong.

    So what can I do?

    surname = last name = family name. Depending on the form, if WONG is your family name / surname, you could put Qin Qing Minnie, Minnie Qin Qing or other variations by leaving off Minnie. Do you have a passport already? Then you should use the same thing that's on the passport.

    Some of my colleagues would write this as Qin Qing (Minnie) WONG to make it absolutely clear that you have chosen to be called Minnie by non-Chinese speakers (assuming that is true of course).

    If you don't have "Minnie" as a name in your passport, it's very important to NOT write it in the reservation.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems you actually have 2 names: the Chinese name "Qin Qing" and the westernized name "Minnie Wong"?

    @AndrewT. Presumably (Mandarin) Chinese _Wang/Huang Qin Qing_ and westernised _Minnie Wong_. The version given here is an odd mixture, since _Wong_) is the Jyutping/Yale/Hong Kong transcription (i.e., based on Cantonese pronunciation) of either 王 _wáng_ or 黄 _huáng_ (most commonly), while _Qin Qing_ is Pinyin (i.e., based on Mandarin). In Chinese, the name would be written in characters throughout, but it’s not common—as far as I know—to westernise names transcribing from different languages within the same name.

    In California I've also seen it written as Minnie (Qin Qing) Wong. It's pretty much always unambiguous which are the given first names vs Western first name.

    Accord to your description… Minnie = first name, Qin Qing = Additional first names (which can be ignored), Wong = last name. It's that easy. Your password will confirm, as it also includes English wording describing the data fields like name, birth date, etc.

    Look in your passport. On the Photograph page there are numbered fields. Use the name in field 1 for surname and the name in field 2 for forename.

    @Ben Not necessarily. As far as I can tell from the images of Singaporean passports that Google brings up, fields are not numbered, and there is only **one** field for the entire name. Tamil is one of the four official languages of the country (presumably also a significant demographic group), and Tamil people frequently have only one name; I am guessing this could be at least part of the reason why this is so.

    What type of ID are you using? And which country is it issued by?

    Some western countries with centuries of Chinese fellow country men have simply hyphenated the family names. So your name would be: "Minnie Wong-Qin-Qing " Which could be seen as a family name variation on WONG. This isn't in line with Chinese naming traditions, as I understood them, but it's a solution.

    @JanusBahsJacquet in that case look in the MRZ beginning in position 7 until the characters `<<` E.g. `PASGPWONG<

    Of course I mean beginning in position six...

  • In terms of booking flights, the only thing you need to consider is what your passport says. It will have fields that are also marked in English, such as "Surname" and "Given names". When you book flight tickets, input exactly what is in those fields, in the corresponding field to what your passport refers to as your "Surname", "Given names", etc.

    If that happens to be wrong according to your actual name, local naming conventions, etc, then that is perhaps something the issuing authority of your passport could consider dealing with.

    However, in terms of booking tickets, the only thing you personally can do is input everything exactly as it appears in your passport, in the corresponding fields. That is what airlines, governments, etc. will want to see, and the absence of it will typically cause problems.

    This is the correct answer! It doesn't even matter what those words mean, just pattern match them and copy from passport into reservation.

    It has two extra initials in my passport representing my Chinese name. One of my bookings I left them out and had to get it added before the airline would issue my boarding pass. Just look at your passport and follow it.

    This is really the correct answer. I once suddenly ended up with a passport where my name was misspelled and I needed to book a flight. I put the misspelled name because this is all what mattered to get into the flight. I had all sorts of issues afterwards because of the misspelling (before it was corrected) but **from the perspective of the booking** it did not matter.

    This is the correct answer, except then you get into situations like my sister, whose last name has a hyphen in her passport, but many airline booking sites call the hyphen an invalid character. It hasn't actually prevented her from flying (yet), because the ticket agents have all been capable of engaging their grey matter, but she dreads the day when it becomes all fully automated...

    @Martha True! I actually have those special characters in my name myself. In the case of my language, there's a standardized way to convert them into normal letters, recognized by all airlines I have used so far.

    @Martha automated checking is already an issue with things like credit cards, but I think in practice the validation is quite loose.

    Worth noting as further reading is this list of falsehoods programmers believe about names. The passport system should eliminate many of them by forcing a western-centric or even English/American system on everyone.

    @ChrisH Lol, I entered to comment exactly the same thing. Take your deserved +1.

    @ChrisH In particular, if the asker here is indeed Singaporean as dda’s answer surmises, then this answer will likely be completely useless, since Singaporean passports would appear not to have anything more than a single “Name” field that does not distinguish first and last names. This lack of distinction could very likely even be the reason she asked here in the first place.

    @JanusBahsJacquet I had assumed "I am Chinese" referred to nationality rather than ethnicity, but that may be a false assumption and this is an interesting point. I'll comment to OP and ask for clarification.

    If your passport photograph page has numbered fields, the "official" surname is generally field 1. If it does not, you can look in the MRZ beginning in position 7 until the characters << E.g. `PASGPWONG<

    Of course I mean beginning in position 6.

    @BensaysNotoPoliticsonSO This is very useful, you could post it as an answer.

  • What matters is what is on your ID, but in general:

    "surname" = "last name" = 姓

    The phrase "last name" in English refers to your family name, regardless of whether your family name is customarily said/written first or last.

    "Last name" is a bit confusing because in many countries or cultures (including often in China) surnames aren't last. "Surname" = "Family name"

    Yes, it's confusing, but that's precisely why it needs to be explained explicitly that the phrase "last name" in English means family name, not "the part of your name which is said/written last"

    "Family name" isn't necessarily less confusing, because multiple family names may be used, particularly in parts of the Hispano/Lusophone world, where the first surname is the father's surname and the second surname is the maternal grandfather's surname. For example, the president of El Salvador is Salvador Sánchez Cerén; Sánchez is his paternal family name, not a given name, and Cerén his maternal family name. So perhaps *patrilineal family name* is the best equivalent for the Anglophone world, although this doesn't then work for surnames which are merely patronymics.

    @choster shouldn't his *English* family name be the complete *Sánchez Cerén* then?

    @choster: "So perhaps *patrilineal family name* is the best equivalent for the Anglophone world" - unless the child has taken on the mother's surname, which is certainly also legally possible in some anglophone countries.

    @O.R.Mapper But in such a case, there is no need to draw a distinction. I am referring only to conventions with regards to compound last names.

    @Chieron That's how I usually fill out forms, yes.

    @Chieron I think you are write but it sucks logically to think that neither his parents nor his children would have the same *family* name. Family name sounds to me like something that is consistent within a family...

    @Džuris The problem of trying to apply one cultural standards to a different culture. Before anyone thinks that *surname* would be better, here's the oxford dictionary's definition: "A hereditary name common to all members of a family, as distinct from a forename or given name". So no luck there either.

    @Džuris It would only be common within the paternal line anyway. The Spanish convention means that all siblings share the same surname. As the name does not change after marriage, the parents already do not share a surname.

    @Džuris The only way for a whole family to consistently have the same surname is for _the entire population_ to have that same surname. How else would you realistically do it? What defines a ‘family’? Just two generations is enough to see that it’s impossible to carry out in reality.

    @Chieron Spanish colleagues have had trouble in the past with a two-part surname (unhyphenated) being accepted as a single name, *including on travel bookings* (though not flights).

    @ChrisH that might be the case, but is actually an oversight of the company your colleagues booked. Nobility should run into the same issue all the time, and there are other cultures with unhyphenated multi-word surnames, too.

    @Chieron Just because a company gets things wrong, doesn't mean it's not the customer's problem in practice

    @ChrisH true, but with that company you could run into issues when someone compares your passport and booking. I just wanted to point out that the issue is not restricted to Spanish names.

  • I suppose you're Singaporean? That's a current practice in Singapore. However you don't have much of a choice. Your family name is Wong, and your first names, plural, are Minnie AND Qin Qing.

    Terminology The usual phrase (in western English) is "given names", because "first names" (plural) is an oxymoron: only one can actually be first. This includes first name and "middle names", but not the family name (because your parents didn't have to choose that). (Some people use one of their given names other than the first one as their primary name, and would write their name with a first initial instead of a middle initial in a context where you don't expand all your given names.)

    So OP has two separated independent first names, and I can choose one freely (*Minnie* or *Qin Qing*), but not calling both at once (*Minnie Qin Qing*)? Customarily, which one is better? And can I simply call them *Qing*?

    @PeterCordes: "The usual phrase (in western English) is 'given names', because 'first names' (plural) is an oxymoron: only one can actually be first." - that would make the "top ten" and the "best [ones] of the best" oxymorons, as well. Avoiding the very confusion the OP is asking about seems like a likelier reason to prefer *given names* over *first names*.

    @PeterCordes That is not true at all, at least far from universally so. If you look them up in most dictionaries, ‘first name’ and ‘given name’ are given as synonyms, which mirrors my own personal experience exactly. You can have several first/given names, and if you normally use just one of them, then you’d also call that your first/given name. My dad has two first names but only ever uses the second one except when filling in forms; his second first name is his first name (= primary name), while his first first name is _a_ first name of his.

    There is also nothing oxymoronic about the phrase “first names” in the plural, any more than First Nations or “the first ten minutes of the game” are oxymorons. Only one entity can be first, but there is nothing oxymoronic about that entity being a group consisting of sub-entities.

    @JanusBahsJacquet part of the problem is that these terms are not used consistently throughout the English-speaking world. In the US, one commonly has a single first name, an arbitrary number of middle names (usually one) and a single last name. It would not be hard to find an American who would take exception to the idea that one could have multiple first names.

    @phoog I’m sure that is true. The reverse is also true in some places, that you may have as as many first and last names as you want, but only one middle name. I've also heard people claim that you can't have a middle name if you have four names. Americans saying they have multiple first or last names are common enough, too. I'm sure some do make the distinction Peter mentions, but there is far too much variation to make any kind of blanket statement on “the usual phrase (in western English)”.

    OP is saying that (s)he is Chinese. But that might refer to ethnicity rather than nationality? I have asked OP to clarify.

  • I agree with other answers here that if this is for an airline ticket booking you should transfer what's stated in your passport to the airline ticket – that is, if this is for international travel.

    First name and last name are an entirely western language concept. More generic (and culturally more sensitive) would be to use given name and family name. Since names in China and other cultures put the family name before the given name, first and last name don't make sense here anymore, though I find that many people in cultures with reversed "first name" "last name" are aware of that.

    In addition to your purely Chinese name (Wong Qin Qing, seemingly a Catonese/Mandarin mix) in family namegiven name order, you also have a western style name (Minnie Wong, whereby "Minnie" is probably the given name you chose) in given namefamily name order. When you mix both it could lead to confusion beyond identifying you. So it would be best to be "Minnie Wong" to your western friends/colleagues or in Hong Kong, where that's more common, and be "Wong Qin Qing" or "Wang Qin Qing" in your (mainland) Chinese circle.

  • I am sure you are Chinese but not China residence, maybe Malaysian Chinese or Singaporean Chinese, am I right? I face this same issue before. Your passport printed Minnie Wong Qin Qing, am i right? Minnie is your Christian / English name. Wong is your family name Qin Qing is your name.

    While you make the flight booking, make in this way: First name: Qin Qing Last name: Winnie Wong

    Only in this way, while print out your boarding pass, it will show Winnie Wong / Qin Qing, you wouldn't face any problem boarding. This issue actually is suffering many people before, the airline also advice change the first name, last name as formal format Given name, Surname.

    Remember, while flight boarding, they only recognize what word type in your passport, if your passport only write as Winnie Wong Qin Qing, don't book your flight with Winnie 黄青青! But some country passport comes with Chinese Mandarin word and English word, they are safe with both, example Taiwan ROC.

    Happy Safe Flight.

  • if you have a brother or sister then the commun words in your full name is the last name (last name = family name).

    And the rest word or words is your first name it's also the given name par your parent to you.

    This doesn't work in all languages/cultures or all situations. In some cultures children of different genders inherit different family names (which may or may not be inflected forms of the same name). In other cases a child may be born before the parents are married, and take the mother's surname, then the parents marry, a sibling is born, but the first child's surname isn't changed. Or many other examples

    @ChrisH Or indeed the parents may simply choose to pass the mother’s family name on to one child and the father’s onto another, even if they are married all along.

    @JanusBahsJacquet indeed. There are many cases. A specific example occurred to me which was why I used it.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM