Apologies if this question is not fit for this website. I thought it was the best one to put it.

I come from a country (Brazil) where the naming custom is: Given name + Mother's maiden name + Father's name. This is also the custom in Portugal. Not everyone follows it in Brazil though, my family is of immigrant background there and everyone in my family follows the convention Given name + Fathers name only. It is not mandated by law.

For instance: Alice Sneijder marries Peter Smith, their son would be Bob Sneijder Smith.

Now, I have moved to central Europe, where the custom is only Given name + Father's name. Initially, I just used my full name at all times. However, many times this yields confusion, as they do not know whether it is a middle name or not, if it's from Spanish-speaking countries (where the mother's name is the last and generally not used).

My friends from spanish speaking countires also have three names, but normally they use only two (the given and the father's).

I would like to know if this is possible. For instance, if I sign a document where my name appearsas only "Bob Smith" and not "Bob Sneijder Smith" is it problematic? Does it lose legal value?

I tried removing my mother's maiden name but that is not easy. I am also a citizen of Italy where the convention is also given + father and this is also generating confusion.

What are my alternatives? Can I do like my spanish speaking friends and just omit my mother's maiden name? I talk about official things, ex: signing a lease, buying property, signing a job contract, etc...


  • 2
    1: Social conventions are not the same as enforceable law. 2: Answers about legal consequences depend on what country you are asking about.
    – user6726
    Aug 6, 2021 at 14:20
  • See also this essay kalzumeus.com/2010/06/17/… Aug 6, 2021 at 20:46

1 Answer 1


Tricky. An airline will usually want to know “your name as written in your passport”. My name is not the name written in my passport, but I tell airlines what will cause the least trouble - the name in my passport.

You may or may not be able to change your Brazilian name, according to what your government says. (I found out it is impossible to change the name in my passport to be the same as my name).

If you become citizen of another country, their rules apply as well. If you got UK citizenship, you could probably change your British name to James Johnson without problem - which may create more confusion elsewhere.

As far as signing is concerned, in most places the fact that you sign is what counts. There may be problems with evidence, but in most places even signing “Mickey Mouse” will be a legally binding signature. You signing with something that could reasonably be taken as your name should be fine legally, but of course may cause confusion.

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