Name acceptability

Indigenous Australians

Where an Indigenous Australian applies for a passport and lacks normal RBDM documentation or wishes to obtain a passport in other than their registered birth name, the applicant should be asked to register the birth or their change of name with RBDM. Where this proves problematical, a name-trail statement (B11 General Declaration) should be sought explaining the history of the applicant’s names. This must be supported by a letter from community elders or from a reputable body within the cultural area, such as a church or appropriate Government organisation.

Anglicised names

No anglicised names are permitted to be included in a travel document unless they appear on the cardinal document (e.g. birth or citizenship certificate) or the applicant has a change of name certificate issued from RBDM. Examples include, but are not limited to, Antonio to Tony, Roberto to Robert, Giuseppe to Joseph, Mei to May.

Use of a single name

A single name is acceptable only where supported by a cardinal document. A passport may be issued with the single name in the family name field. On the application form three check digits ‘XXX’ should be written in the space for given names only. These check digits will not appear in the passport.

A change of name to a single name can be made only if the same original documentary evidence required for non-single names is produced.

Character limitations for name fields

    The design of Australian passports complies with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards and has a maximum limit of 31 characters and spaces for each of the family and first name fields.

    Where an applicant has a family or first name that is longer than 31 characters and spaces, then the applicant will have recorded in the passport as many family and first names as possible within the respective fields and in the same order as recorded on the cardinal document. All other names must be represented in the name field by their initials (without any full stops).

    The layout text for the observation should be

BEARERS FULL NAME IS:

FAMILY NAME:

GIVEN NAMES:

    Where this approach is necessary because of the applicant’s length of name, an observation is to be included in the passport stating the full name of the bearer.

Characters and signs permitted on the bio-data page

International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has published specifications of what characters and signs should appear in the VIZ (visual zone) and MRZ (machine readable zone) on the bio-data page of machine-readable travel documents.

Recommended transliterations are specified in Appendix 9 to Section IV of ICAO Doc 9303 - Machine Readable Travel Documents, Part 1, Volume 1 (pages IV-48 to IV-52). Refer to Annex 17 of OPI.

Foreign national characters: bio-data page

While most foreign national characters can be represented by a character in the Latin alphabet e.g. è by e, there are several national characters that require an extra letter to represent them such as the German umlaut which requires an ‘e’ to be added to the letter e.g. ä by ae.

Unacceptable or uncommon names

The Minister (or her delegate) has discretion not to accept a name or signature for inclusion in a passport which, on reasonable grounds, may be considered unacceptable, offensive or inappropriate.

This is the case whether or not the name was acquired by registration with a Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages or by other means.

Guidelines for accepting or refusing names or signatures

Section 25A of the Determination states that the name or signature in an Australian travel document must not be a name or signature that the Minister considers to be unacceptable. Section 25A provides a non-exhaustive list of names that may be treated as unacceptable. The Minister has delegated the power to refuse to include an unacceptable name or signature under Section 25A to a limited number of officers specified in Schedule 1 of the Authorisations and Delegations instrument.

Sections 25A of the Determination provides examples of where a name may be considered to be unacceptable. The proposed name must not include:

  • An expletive, a racial or ethnic slur or implication or an otherwise obscene or offensive term;

  • A political statement or slogan;

  • The name or reference to a public institution or public office – e.g. Family Court, Legal Aid or Prime Minister Joe Citizen;

  • A title, award or decoration not awarded by the Crown or conferred under a law of the Commonwealth (see ‘ Titles, decorations and awards ’).

  • A term that could mislead people into believing that the bearer has been awarded or conferred a title, award or decoration– e.g. Sir Joe Citizen;

  • A string of words that would not commonly be recognised as a name;

  • A name that cannot be established by repute or usage;

  • Any other term that is contrary to the public interest;

  • Too many characters for the data page of the travel document (see ‘ Character limitations for name fields ’);

  • A symbol without phonetic significance;

  • A format that is inconsistent with ICAO standards as set out in document 9303.

Uncommon names or signatures accepted by other institutions

Sometimes the applicant is able to demonstrate to the Passport Office that an unacceptable but assumed name or signature has been used widely in the community and accepted by other organisations – e.g. the Australian Tax Office.

Where this occurs, officers are still required to assess the circumstances against the information above.

Right of review: unacceptable names or signatures

Applicants should be advised in writing where their name or signature is not accepted for inclusion in a travel document and provided the reason for rejection and their right to request review of the decision under the Australian Passports Act 2005, Section 48.

Titles, decorations and awards

Titles, decorations and awards may be included in a passport as either an endorsement or in the name field in the passport.

Proof of the grant of the title or decoration or award must be provided.

Anyone on whom such a title has been conferred should write the appropriate title on the application form.

Titles

Titles granted by the Crown or the Australian Government, such as peerages and knighthoods, may be included in the name field in the passport.

Members of the House of Lords and their spouses would complete the form as follows:

  • Lord {Surname}, {Given Names}

Knights and their spouses would write their names as follows:

  • {Surname}, Sir {Given Names}

  • Lady {Surname}, {Given Names}

  • {Surname}, Dame {Given Names}

Suffixes like John Smith 2nd or Jnr

Suffixes used as part of an applicant's hereditary status, e.g. John Smith 2nd or Peter Brown Junior (Jr, Jnr) which appear on a cardinal document may appear in an Australian travel document. Where ‘Second’ or ‘2nd’ is on a birth or citizenship certificate the acceptable form to appear in a passport is the roman numeral capital – II, just as III would denote ‘third’ or ‘3rd’ - following the applicant's family name. Hence:

  • {Surname} III, {Given Names}

Where the terms ‘Junior’ or ‘Jnr’ appear on a birth or citizenship certificate the following should be noted:

  • {Surname} Jnr, {Given Names}

Decorations and awards

Decorations and awards conferred by the Crown (e.g. Member of the British Empire) or the Australian Government (e.g. Order of Australia Medal) may be entered in the passport in the form of an endorsement.

The full description of the decoration or award must be noted (e.g. the bearer holds the award of Member of the British Empire, not MBE).

Non Australian titles, decorations and awards

Titles, decorations and awards not granted or conferred on the applicant by the Crown or the Australian Government, or which were purchased by the applicant, may not be included in the name field or as an endorsement in a passport.

Courtesy, professional or honorific titles

No provision is made by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), for passports to include courtesy titles such as Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms, Dr etc. Therefore there is no provision in Australian passport application forms for such titles to be included.

Professional or other honorific titles must not be included in either the name field on the bio-data page of a travel document or placed as an endorsement label on the observation page.

Also known as

Where a person has also been known as another name and provides official documentation supporting the name, this information should be recorded in PICS.

Observation labels are not to be included into a travel document stating that the person is also known as (name). See “Alterations and endorsements in travel documents” for more information on observation labels.