Today I registered my Taiwanese daughters English name, not using a transliteration of her Chinese name, but using a ‘real’ English name. The English surname I registered is also different to the Chinese surname. The Chinese surname matches my wife’s surname, and the English surname matches mine. I hope that in this post I can explain how I did it, as many parents have posted that they were not allowed to do it or met resistance.
As far as I know, there are two ways to register an official English name with the Taiwanese government:
- Apply for your child’s first passport
- Apply for your child’s first English language household registration transcript (戶籍謄本)
If you have applied for either of these two before, and did not use your child’s ‘real’ English name, you are out of luck and as far as I know you can’t change the name. Your best option is to have your child’s ‘real’ English name listed under ‘Also known as’ on their passport.
If your child is still an infant like mine, I would recommend applying for the English language household registration transcript, as you do not need to bring your child to do this, unlike a passport, where the child needs to be present during the application.
In order to register an English name that is not a transliteration of the registered Chinese name, you will need to supply the Household Registration Office with a document, either from Taiwan or abroad that has the child’s ‘real’ English name printed. Officially there is a list of documents that they will accept, but in actuality, any official looking document is likely to be accepted. If your child was born in Taiwan, try to get your hospital or clinic to issue an English birth certificate listing the child’s English name. Not all hospitals and clinics issue English certificates. If yours doesn’t normally, you may be able to get them to issue one by saying that your home government requires it for the registration of the birth, and a translation of the Chinese one isn’t enough.
Officially, the following documents are accepted:
- Identity certificates or official documents issued by the ROC government in a foreign language
- Identity certificates or official documents issued by foreign governments in a foreign language
- Birth certificates issued by domestic or foreign hospitals
- Diplomas and certificates issued by public or private schools established with accreditation by competent education authorities
This is according to the ‘Enforcement Rules of the Passport Act’ on the official BOCA website:
If you decide to apply for the English language household registration transcript, tell the staff that you don’t need to translate every household member, only the child. This way you won’t need to prepare proof of English names for everyone on your household registration. As the English language household registration transcript will state the mother and father’s English name, you will need to prove that both the mother and father have official English names by showing their passports. If they do not have a passport or an officially registered English name, then they can pick one based on their Chinese name, or supply proof of a ‘real’ English name, in the same way as the child.
If your local Household Registration Office refuses to let you register your child’s ‘real’ English name, send me a message and I will give you the details of my application so your local office can consult with the people who processed mine. If you are in the Taipei/New Taipei area I would also be happy to go with you and show them my daughters own documents, proving that this is possible.