declaration of surname change

My husband (American) and I (Taiwanese American) are moving to Taiwan with our kids. I’ve got an old Taiwanese passport that I wish to renew (was born in Taipei but moved to the States as a child). The passport of course is under my maiden name, Chen. The consul at our local TECO office says that I need to change my surname so that it shows up on my renewed passport, at least in the section “Also Known As”, so that it matches my married name found on my US passport. He says I need to provide a statement or letter saying that I hereby change my surname and officially go by that surname as well as my maiden name… Or something like that . Has anyone else ever had to change their surname on their Taiwanese documents?? How did you all procure such a statement? Many thanks in advance.

There’s a difference between a name change, in which the old name is abandoned in favor of a new one; and an AKA (“also known as”), in which you effectively have two names at the same time. Taiwan passports can list a “foreign alias” (or AKA), in addition to the Chinese-character name and its romanization. If you marry, and want to keep your original name in Chinese but change it in English (or other language), it sounds like what you want is an AKA added to the Taiwan passport.

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Thank you so much. I called the consul again, he clarified that having an American surname wouldn’t be a problem… (Not what he said earlier, but anyways) he said that submission of my marriage license, which has both my Chinese and married names on it, should be sufficient to show that both of those names are the same person. So I hope that solves any issues when comparing the two passports. Thank you very much for your input.

Sorry, I was looking at your situation backwards! So what I said turned out to be useless. As far as I know there are no real rules or restrictions on adopting a foreign alias (on a Taiwan passport), except that it has to be in the roman alphabet, and you can only have one. (I think there are rules on how many times you can change it.) People often choose their own (foreign) “given” name, although there does seem to be a bureaucratic expectation that your foreign “surname” be some roman-letter version of your family name. (Can you create a totally random “foreign alias,” or name yourself after some pop star? God knows.)

I asked the AIT about the other direction–getting an AKA added to a US passport. They told me that they would need three forms of ID with the other name on it. Furthermore, the AKA could only be roman letters (of course), but the ID you present to them would also have to show the roman-letter name (not just characters).

An exception is made for marriage, though. Either a man or a woman can change their actual surname (if not the whole name)–not just add an AKA, unless they want that, in which case I guess it would be okay–on presenting proof of marriage. Are there any limits? If Jackie Chan marries Suzie Wong, can either of them change his/her name to “Donald Trump,” and say that is their married name? Well, apparently the new name has to be approved by somebody in the AIT, so you can imagine the sort of things they would be likely to approve. Hyphenated names? Sure. A new surname that the couple will both change to? Probably. Something truly weird? Who knows.

Indeed, who knows?!? At this point, I’m just going by what the consul said, and hoping everything works out for the best. If I run into any further issues, or if it’s successful, I’ll post here…