Guide: How to register a 'real' English name for your Taiwanese child

I will be in this situation very soon (American with Taiwanese wife giving birth in Taiwan shortly) and appreciate this thread. We have an English name picked out for our newborn daughter and will make sure to get this name on an English birth certificate.

However, this might be a stupid question but I’d like to know of others’ experience: what surname/last name should be selected in English?

In Chinese, she will have my wife’s last name. Should the English take her last name? If it’s my (husband’s) last name, will that mismatch cause problems? Does it matter? I have no opinions at all on who takes whose name, but wondering if in the future we apply for any formal documents in the US or another foreign country, or do anything using the English name in Taiwan, there is a procedure/best practice on which name to use and if consistency is necessary.

I am not an American, but … if you are called John Doe, your child can be called something like:

Bobby Doe

That would be easy, in my experience, since it matches the foreigner’s last name. You could probably get them surnamed Yang or Chen or Peng or something if your wife has that name. It is probably possible, but why would you want to?

In English the Surname/Last name should be the father’s.


  • In Taiwan it is easier to prove who your parents are with the ID and HHR names are there, this is not the case abroad.
  • It will be easier to process any paperwork the husband wants to do abroad if the child has the same last time as it is the custom in most other countries.
  • It will be easier to get through immigration in other countries faster as I know a few people with English names and Chinese Surnames that always have issues because of very common names like David Li/Lee.
  • Names on their future credit cards can be cool like Britney Spears instead of Lin Mei Li.

This is along the lines of what I was thinking. Thanks!

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