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Why should you apply for Passport before registering for GRE or TOEFL?

Passport for GRE and TOEFL last name missing issues

As internationals, in most of the countries, Passport is your government issued photo identification and it is in most cases it is required proof of photo identification in many countries for giving standardized tests like GRE or TOEFL. I will share the importance of applying for passport before registering for GRE or  TOEFL and explain the reasons.

What are the common issues with Passport and GRE or TOEFL Exam ?

List of common issues:

  • The last name in Passport does not match with Last name in GRE exam
  • Sur name or Last name is Blank in passport, but the name is different in GRE
  • First name or last name spelling mismatch in Passport

How can you avoid these issues? Why Should you apply for Passport before GRE ?

Most of these issues occur for the simple reason that you did not had your passport with you and you did not provide same details at the time when you registered for GRE or TOEFL exam.    The easy way to avoid these issues is to apply for passport beforehand and have the passport with you when you register for the GRE or TOEFL.  There have been instances where someone might have filled something in their passport application, but might have got something different. Common issues like Typos, last name issues, etc.  If you just register for GRE and TOEFL thinking that that’s what you filled in for your passport application, you may end up with issues if the passport does not come with the name you wanted…you might end up into bigger issues at the Test center where they may deny you to take the test if there is any mismatch.

Key things to consider when filling up the passport application and GRE Application ?

There are different boxes with different descriptions in these applications. Here is a  quick clarification:

  1. Last Name, Surname or Family name à all these mean same. In US, they call Last name, but in some countries it is called Surname or family name. In some countries like India, students are used to just use initials for the last name. For instance, S. Kishore or Kishore S . Here, ‘S’ is your last name abbreviation and you must expand it in Last name or surname field. Some people have their fathers name as last name. Make sure you fill in right thing in Last Name field, it is very important thing in US. All your history is primarily tied to your last name and very important. If you have blank in passport, you may have issues in US without having last name.
  2. First Name or Given Name à There is no confusion here. It is your first name and everyone should be fine. Sometimes they say Given name too. Make sure you fill in your First name without any spelling mistakes.
  3. Middle Initial or Middle Name à It is very tricky here. Some people do not have middle name, and some do have it…. If you are married, your middle name would be possibly your maiden name. In any case, make sure you fill in your middle initial or middle name in the required box or filed. If there is no box, just do not fill it. Middle name is not very important. Your Last and first name are very important. Sometimes, people just add middle name to the first name. So, it is up to you.

Overall, make sure your name on the Passport is same as that in your certificates. So, once you have your Passport, then you can register for GRE or TOFEL using the same details to avoid any future issues.

When to apply for passport?

Ideal time to apply for passport is at least 6 months before you plan to register for GRE or TOEFL. Overall, it is one year before you actually take the exam. Plan to keep 6 months time line for getting passport and you should ideally register for test 6 months before the actual exam date.  If anything goes wrong with your passport, you still will be in good shape for changes.  To make it more clear, if you plan to apply for Fall 2012, then you must take actual GRE test by June 2011. So, you must apply for passport by June 2010.  It may sound way too much planning ahead; but, it is good to plan more than plan less…

Image Credit : http://agenziaperindiani.com/Images/India-passport.jpg


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    • If you have only one name and do not have surname/last name, then you put in OSHIN as your Last name and put in FNU as first name. Instead, my suggestion is to fix your passport and have a last name on it and then apply for GRE. It takes around a week to 10 days for passport. Read FNU issues with US

  1. My name in passport is

    Given name AAAA BBBB
    Surname (blank)

    With the above I have appeared for GRE & TOEFL in which name is printed as AAAA BBBB

    I have visited US once earlier, my visa is stamped with
    First name FNU
    Surname AAAA BBBB

    I am now filling up application for MS in US universities. In the application form first name and last name are compulsory to mention. How do I fill it? Shall I split the name in application form?

    In that case , In I20 what way the names would be appear? please help me urgently.

    If I have to split the name in passport, at what stage should I do ?

  2. I am a muslim as muslim names go, we have “bin” between our first name and last name. The “bin” is equivalent to “son of”.

    For GRE, I registered with the name AA BB CC. AA (First Name), BB(middle name) and CC(father’s name/surname).

    But on my passport, it is AA BB bin CC. Will this pose a problem for me when I go to take the GRE?
    AA BB CC or AA BB bin CC.
    Honestly, the “bin” is almost negligible, in my opinion.
    Plus it becomes CC, AA BB on my ETS account.
    If not, it would be CC, AA BB bin

    What do you think I should do? Cancel and re-register? Or proceed?
    Plus how should I put the “bin” anyway?
    First name : AA BB
    Middle name: bin
    Last name: CC

    First name : AA
    Middle name: BB
    Last name: bin CC

    • Well, The key parts of the name are “First Name” and “Last Name/Surname “. Sometimes first names are quite lengthy with multiple words, in such cases, people shorten it with the initial corresponding to the part of the name. Based on what I read, your Last name is correct and first name is also correct, but you have extra part in it. You need to look at your passport details and your degree details and then make a call. Minor middle words do not matter, in general, but you need to make a decision. If you have time, I recommend that you make sure your passport details are in-line with ETS GRE and Your Educational certificate details.

  3. Hi,
    I registered for the GRE and I heard somewhere that they ask you for your passport number during registry. But while applying they didnt ask me for the passport number anywhere and just asked to provide the passport for identification purposes at the centre. Did I do something wrong while registering? Do I have to fill in the passport number in the application?

  4. Hi ,

    I am Sohrab Singh Chawla . My name on passport is Sohrab Singh Chawla and on all other documents or even transcripts i have only single name ‘Sohrab’. Does there will be name mismatch problem in USA ?

      • No, i don’t have any surname initial in my surname.Actually i have changed name from ‘Sohrab’ to ‘Sohrab Singh Chawla’ legally before applying passport. So i have new name only on passport and i am worrying about mismatch of name on other documents. Does name reference sheet works in this case ? Have you seen this case before ?

        • Great, if you have everything legally done. You can always attach the legal documentation for reference along with the name reference sheet for clarification. It should not create any issues.

  5. Hi sir,

    In my ssc certificate, 12th&BCA, Aadhar and PAN card my Name is ketankumar and date of birth certificate ketanbhai.
    sir, Can I eligible for Applying passport.

    Please give me solution for this.

    • Hello Ketan!
      You call PSK (passport seva kendra) and ask them if it is a problem?
      Because your PSK may be a little lenient.
      So they better can answer you.

  6. Hi,
    I have a valid passport with an address “xyz”. But I will be shifting residence in the coming month, hence will be facing address change. If I register for the GRE with my passport having the “xyz” address instead of the new address “abc” will it be an issue? Or do I have to compulsorily go through the whole address change process before I even register for the exam ?
    Thank you in advance !!!

  7. Hi
    I have my name in 10th class certificate as Preeti, in 12th class certificate as Preeti Chaudhary, and in engineering, they considered the base as 10th class, so it is mentioned as Preeti.
    In other documents like PAN Card, Aadhar it is mentioned as Preeti Chaudhary. I have applied for passport and the name is Preeti Chaudhary.

    I plan to take GRE and study in USA, Singapore. Please clarify if this surname will cause any issue. Please reply.

    Preeti Chaudhary

  8. I have a problem with my surname on passport. Surname is blank and in given name it is written as Mohammed mubeen raoof and I have booked the slot for IELTS with the same name.

  9. hey…i apply for passport so i want to know that should i appied for TOEFL..????And i also want to know that what is mean of SUFFIX in TOEFL registation form??And which document accept in TOEFL exam??

  10. Hi sir,
    In my ssc certificate my Name is p veera prashanth kumar and 12th&B.tech,Aadhar and PAN card become p veera prashanth and date of birth certificate p veera prashanth kumar. sir, In Address proof kumar is not mentioned Can I eligible for Applying passport.Please give me solution for this.

  11. Hi my name is Dishant DXXXX JXXX. All my degree certificates has the same name but on my pan card ,ration card and driving license has last name as PXXXXX. Both last name are totally different. And I am plannning to take gre with name same as on passport i.e lastname as PXXXXX. Will this not create any problem while applying for MS in US universities. Because my surname in degree and passport dosent match. Please suggest on this.

  12. I lost my passport after my Gre and Ielts exam.. are these exams valid if I apply new passport…And I got my I20’s as well, on old passport, can i go for visa interview on new passport. Please let me know the correct information .

    • Hey dude.. Even im stuk in dis same situation nw. I have got my gre/ielts score on old pasport n now i have reissued a new pasport bcoz of my surname problm.plzz let me know if u get any help about it on how to proceed further..plzz

  13. hi my name is vartika tiwari but in my all documents since 10th marksheets it is written vartika . so in my passport also it just single name vartika. I dont have sur name in my passport and other documents. my GRE exams is on 16 july. i called ets centre they said me to fill vartika in given name and vartika in last namewhat should be the problem i will face. Shall i be accepted by universties. what will be the problems of getting visa???

  14. Dear sir,
    All my ID proofs, starting from driving license voters card 10th 12th mark sheet degree certificate etc have my name as
    Ajay S
    But in my passport it is
    Surname : Suresh Kumar
    Given name : Ajay

    While applying for GRE/TOEFL/MS etc which name shall I give? If I give AJAY SURE SH KUMAR then there comes problem with my degree certificate and if I give AJAY S there comes problem with my passport ID proof in US.
    What shall I do?
    Pls help me out.

  15. hi frnds.
    in my passport my name like
    but in my gre, toefl my name like
    there is no space between first name and middle name
    Is it any problem.?
    please help me

  16. My Name is MXX MUXXXXX AXX

    For GRE i have have registered as
    First or given name: MXX MUXXXXX
    Middle name: BLANK
    Last name: AXX

    In My Passport
    Surname: BLANK
    Given Name: MXX MUXXXXX AXX

    In all my other documents my name is MXX MUXXXXX AXX

    Do i need to reissue my passport ?? If yes then what should be my given name and surname ?

    • According to the Department of State, in order to process visa (immigrant / non-immigrant) cases efficiently, the surname and the given name MUST be written separately on the first page (the biographic data page) of your passport.

      All immigrant and the nonimmigrant visas are printed as your name appears in your passport. If you do not have a surname listed separately, your entire name will be printed on the surname field of the visa. Your first name will be printed as “FNU” (first name unknown), per U.S. visa regulations.

      By having “FNU” listed as your given name on your visa, you may have difficulty obtaining a driver’s license and social security card in the United States.

      It is recommended that those who have blanks in the surname column apply for name correction at the passport office to get the names corrected/regularized before you apply for U.S. visa.

      • Thanks USA – Passport Name Advisory. Does surname specify my last name?
        How will be my name printed in USA? Surname followed by first name or First name and then surname?

  17. The website of ETS also says,

    The following ID documents are acceptable for admission to a test center within your country of citizenship:

    Government-issued driver’s license
    State or province ID card (including those issued by the motor vehicle agencies)
    National ID card
    Military ID card

    and actually my passport is not ready yet because I lost my birth certificate and I had to re-issue it, so is that possible to go for the test with the prescribed documents but Passport.

  18. hello,I am Krishna Theja, i have made a error in last name column .in my passport it is NandyalamThyagarajulu but here i have given NandyalaThyagarajulu..so i m very worried ..pl s help me out..i have made minor error..will they matter..

  19. HI.. Frnds… Is passport is needed to reg/ book for GRE & IELTS exam slot. i hav applied for passport it is on da process to issue can i apply nw it self.. plz do reply me any one thnq in adv..

    • please wait untill u get ur passport
      then only u should apply for gre,toefl
      as like the information in passport ..
      make sure of first name, last name

  20. my name is Rajashekar Reddy and surname is Nandyala. but in ETS website it doesnt accepting spaces in First name what should i do??? Reddy is my caste name. is REddy comes under middle name… plz help me

  21. hi, my name Divya.V . All of my certificates are of this name but while registering to gre it is asking that the last name must have atleast 2 letters as my last name is just “V”. so could u please help me out in this.

  22. Hi.
    I was about to register for my GRE when I realized my passport has no given name (the space is left BLANK) and my entire name is written under the Surname heading. I have had no issues travelling abroad on the passport but GRE requires the registration name to PERFECTLY match the one on your passport.
    I am utterly confused.
    Should I leave Given name blank and write my entire name under Surname (the same as my passport) OR should I write Maria as my first name and the rest as my surname?

    Please help me out with this. I could get a new passport and fix the error but I have already applied for my ILETS on my current passport (which would be cancelled if I got a new one!)

    Would reeeeeeally appreciate feedback!
    Thank you!

  23. Hiii…I m ” Maitri” (final year,B.tech)…but I hv rectified my name from “Maitri” to ” Maitri Singh” in passport since i hv to apply for GRE..
    M i supposed to change my name as “Maitri Singh” in my final degree of engineering too or it’s ok being only Maitri there ..Would i face any prob if i ud get admitted for MS if my degree name would be “Maitri” and passport name as “Maitri singh”..please help..what should i do?should i add my title in final B.tech degree or let it be?

    • Hey , I have the same problem. My name is Vinay kumar Sharma in passport but in degree certificates and license it is Vinay Sharma . I am very confused whether I would face any problems in applying to the US. Is there any kind of solution to this issue? Please help????

  24. hi
    my name in the certificates is : kondadasula p sai kumar
    i applied for the passport.it is about to come.
    but i want to book the date for gre before i get the passport
    then what i should put for the first name? and last name? middle name?

  25. hii
    I want to take the GRE test . My name in original documents is TANUJA BOLISETTI.
    But in my PASSPORT it is like TANUJA BOLISETTY.So i think there is a mismatch in my name. So with which one of the above i have to register for the exam??
    plz give me suggestion????

  26. hii
    I want to register for GRE exam.My name in documents is TANUJA BOLISETTI.

    But in my it is like TANUJA BOLISETTY.is there any problem will occur with the small difference in my last name regarding registration??

  27. hii ,
    i wish some one could help me,my name is basava vishwabharath according to passport nd while applying for gre i made a mistake of typin my name wrong by one letter i.e i typed basava vishwabharat.will it be a prob while writin my test.plzzzz help me out in this

  28. Please help me…..Iam facing a problem with my name in passport

    my name in passport is
    First name: ravikanth
    Last name or surname: Axxxx Vxxx

    I have given my GRE and TOEFL with the same name as in passport

    But now I want to change my name in passport as

    First name:Vxxx ravikanth
    Last name or surname: Axxxx

    which is the correct name

    Does this make my GRE and TOEFL score cards invalid?


    Can I apply for univs with the same name as in passport now and inform them Iam planiing to change my name in passport before getting I20’s ?

    Iam very much worried about this.Any one please give me a reply.

    • Ravikanth,
      It seems tricky to me. Going through a name change process might involve legal stuff… I am not sure how your Engineering and Secondary education certificates….I do not know the direct implications, all I can advise is, make sure you have all of them same from your 10th class to Engineering and also passport. About GRE and TOEFL, I do not think the scores will become invalid, but you would have to check with ETS to see what options they provide. Call or email ETS and see how they can help you with name change….

  29. hi,
    My Full name is DEEPAK.S.P..as u can see my initials are S.P, ‘S’ stands for my mom’s name ‘P’ for my dad’s name. can u please suggest how to give name in my passport. till today all my school and college records have DEEPAK.S.P itself must i give my both initials as my last name or ‘S’ as my middle name and ‘P’ as my last name..no where in any record My initials are in full its just S.P..please help me on this.

  30. Hi,

    My name in all my docs (except for passport) is B M Addy

    so now i applied for a passport with the same format Bxxxx Mxxxx Addy

    But Since i applied in delhi they did some Stupid change and now i have a passport with following name:

    Given Name : Bxxxx Addy
    Last Name: Mxxxx

    On asking an allegedly knowledgeable relative, my father was told that it wont make a difference; so he went ahead and registered for my GRE with the same name.

    So what are my options ??
    If the uni authorities are ok (will be apping for Fall 2011) , i am not against using this new configuration… but… (intentionally left trailing)

    Please comment. Thanks in Advance

    • Well, one thing is for sure…you should have your GRE registered name exactly like in Passport. Other things, you can get transcripts and make them bona fide. But for GRE make sure GRE registration is same as passport…they will not let you take test if there is a name discrepancy. Check ETS site for more info.

      • I have successfully (today) taken my GRE examination with the forementioned passport. What kind of documents/ interaction will be required to convince the university people where i will be applying for that B M Addy and Bxxx Addy Mxxx are the same person??

        Thanks for the reply.

        cheers 🙂

      • hi,
        what if i use only initial (like B only) as last name in passport (if it is accepted)?!
        is it possible anyway to register gre with single letter last name (like B only)?!
        initials are accepted as last name in many registration systems(almost all universities i have seen so far).
        please, reply early. 🙁

  31. I am not able to enter the name as it is given in the passport.
    First name(Given Name) : RAVI SHANKAR (In ets gre site space between two names is not being accepted)
    Last Name: Raman

  32. I have registered for GRE and TOEFL exam.In my passport the name is
    Surname:GXXXXX TXXXX
    But in GRE/TOEFL registration they asked firstname,middlename/middleinitial and lastname
    so I entered like this..
    Is it correct..I am confused with all these..plz help..

    • Well, it seems like according to your Passport Last name is “GXXX TXXX”. I think you should call ETS and change the registration info. They are very specific about the last name and they may not let you take the exam…. Read this section “When you register” : http://www.ets.org/gre/general/test_day/id/
      Here is what it says : ” If your ID document contains two last names, enter the names exactly as they appear on your ID”.

      • Hi kumar, I was allowed to write the exam. There is nothing to worry, we can make changes in the name at the test center. But you should be able to show any proof for identifying you as the same person who registered for the exam.


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