Change wife's name when moving back to US

My marriage is now officially registered in Taiwan, so we are starting to look ahead. Ultimately, my Taiwanese wife and I will be moving back to the United States several years from now.

In the US, she doesn’t use her Chinese name except on formal documents. Instead, she uses an English name followed by her family name.

Since we are now married, is it possible for her to officially change both her given name AND family name at the same time? How would one go about doing this?

I was thinking she could get the Romanized name in her Taiwan passport changed, leaving her Chinese name the same. The reason being she could use her Taiwan passport as a basis for changing her new English names in the US. All she’d have to do is show her passport when filling out the forms.

Ideally, she’d like to continue using her Chinese name in Taiwan, but start to use her new family and given English names in the US.

I haven’t seen this question before, and I’ve never heard of changing a given name. Thanks in advance for anyone who can help with this matter.


I find it morally reprehensible to go changing
womens names. But that’s just me.

However, my wife was called Teng Yingyu on her
old passport. I cleverly engineered that we
write Deng Yingyu on the marriage certificate,
and then use it as reason to have it say Deng
Yingyu on the next ROC passport.

Being that her surname is the same as Deng
Xiaoping, I find it better to use the official
hanyu pinyin, awaiting that glorious day of
unification with the motherland. {that I’m
joking about, but am serious about hanyu pinyin}.

By the way, now I’m on wife #2. What if there
occurs “marriage failure”? Wouldn’t you feel
embarrassed leaving your surname stamped
all across the forehead of this young lady? [if
that indeed is what is going on, who knows, you
might instead have some environmentally
sound plan, in which case i apologize.]

Hi Dan,
Thanks for your reply. I’m hoping that someone can provide a little more insight as to the legality of changing her name on the passport.

Let’s say we agree with you 100% about not changing her surname. Would it still be possible to change her given name on her passport? Since this is not as common of an occurrance, this is my real question. I think changing a surname is quite routine, so we can leave that discussion out if necessary.

Were you successful in getting your wife’s passport amended? Have you tried it yet?

Thanks to all,

I believe that the way to approach this problem, and similar problems, is to ask the authorities involved.

In terms of a Taiwan passport, obviously that is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You should go there and ask them if it is possible to do what you want.

If it is OK, then fine. If it is not OK, then you should ask for a specific legal reference. If they are vague about that, then you should demand a specific legal reference.

At that point, we can begin discussing how to solve your problem, based on the “level” of the legal reference cited.

Upon immigrating to the USA, I would simply suggest a state court order for the entire name change of her State Driver’s License and SSN. Thus no legal change to the ROC records as this is very problematic enough for Chinese issues in Taiwan. A court ordered name change document probably makes the messy process less messy for your American issues and her ROC passport becomes much less significant to your domestic lives in the USA. Without “domestic ID”, any passport can become problematic for its own reasons of simple ignorance or newfound xenophobia.

As somewhat indicated by your post, the simple and pragmatic justification is the cultural assimulation of the English name so that English-speaking Americans can pronounce it.

The INS will automatically change her family name on her Green Card so it will not even match up with her “maiden name” in her ROC passport. American cultural practices are simply imposed as a matter of the INS discretion in Anglo names and foreign marriage. To them, the pertinent entry document is the green card, and not so much her passport.

Not changing the Chinese name or related records is wisdom for sound lingual and cultural reasons.
Some self-enlightened types will scoff, but the vast majority of the populace will never even bat an eyelash over an English name. They’ll butcher a beautiful foreign name in an instant.

Go with the flow.

Two legal names will be the result and this must be disclosed as required (eg. INS forms, security clearances, etc). It is no different than a married woman disclosing the multiple names of her past 20 husbands (eg. Mrs. John Doe, Ms. Mary Doe, Mrs. James Smith, Mrs. Mary Smith, etc) As long as fraud is not the intent or becomes the practice, I think this would be deemed positively acceptable, even desireable.

Yes, the marriage certificate with the new name was proof enough for then to accept the new spelling for her next passport. I had completed the task of rescuing a fellow human from the clutches of Wade-Giles romanization.

With folks not aspirating the initial consonant in her surname anymore, there is much less saliva transported via the atmosphere, hence less deseases plague us now. I didn’t mess with the given name but I assume it would be the same.

So, remember pre-newlyweds: they won’t ask to see the old passport when making the marriage certificate [at least not in 1992, local marriage to local lady], so use hanyu pinyin, then use that certificate to show the new way she/he spells her name when she/he applies for a new passport.

Question 1: What about gays? I bet they lose out big when it comes to marriage/immigration.

Question 2: What about Linda Arrigo, [ailinda], former wife of Shi Mingde, what does she think about our little foreigner problems and if it is right for some of us to tire of being “foreigners”? Did anybody “turn her on” to this website?

Good question as to “Dr. Linda” and her knowledge of this website. I’ve moved in very close research circles but our individual paths just have never crossed. Perhaps someone closer might send her an email or a FAX.