buzzoole code
The Family Name, is it important?

The Family Name, is it important?

Staff Adminitrative : Bonjour Madame, votre ID S’il Vous Plait?
Me: Bonjour *I give my ID card to the staff*
Staff looks on it and asked: INC, c’est votre prenom Madame? c’est a dire Quoi? (INC, is your name? what’s that meaning?)
Me: Non, Ce n’est pas mon Prenom, bla bla bla *try to explain* (No, it’s not my name)

The scene above is always happening on me or “What is your family name??” That will be my FAQ each time I need to do administrative of everything in France, that’s the 1st question that you will have here, that’s really different than my country that just asking for your full name and most of them never asking for the family name.

This one for sure being of some on my culture shocks I had since I prepare any paper for marriage and when I start my life here and kind of stress thing for me because I don’t have family name or NOM. “Really you don’t have the family name?” Yes, I don’t have one. “But, why?” (classic question for me) Because in my country there is no obligation to put your family name in your administration paper.




In my country, the important is you have a full name and most of the time the parents just prepare one name by the past (not really like now, each parent already preparing many names for their future baby and it had good meanings also).

When we talking about the family name, some areas in Indonesia (as Indonesia has many islands and wide) have a rules that you should have your family name it’s an obligation by the culture not really by the law, like in North or West Sumatera or Sulawesi (Celebes) for them the family name is really important it’s because the historical reasons.

The family name is it important?

That’s why for Indonesian people that origin from North or West Sumatra or other parts of Indonesia whose still have that culture to add the family name on their full name is not complicated to do any visa ( in case of filling the form) or even to live abroad (it’s kind of advantage).

And unfortunately, I’m not coming from there so, I don’t have any the family name. like i said before its really stressing me in some cases, the 1st problem came when I need to buy the international air ticket online (that we really need to take care when filling out the first and last name) but it solved as I could fill the same name on the both for first and last name, the 2nd problem when I try to apply my 1st Visa to France (always stuck by the family name), hopefully it solved (the Embassy gave me the solutions because they handle this case frequently),

3rd problem is when my hubby would like to make me an invitation letter in Mairie / town hall, he completely confused how to fill out the form but hopefully not just Indonesian who doesn’t have a family name, there is some country like mine, so it solved, and for the 4th,5th and so on.

And hopefully it solved until I should have my real name (no family name ) become my family name before married here and sometimes they add by themselves for my name is SP (sans prenom / without name) and the immigration staff put my name as INC Sellatania on my 1st ID card, INC (inconnu /unknown) as my prenomΒ and Sellatania (my real name) Β for nom.

That situation really drives me crazy and it really annoying each time we need to fill up my name always get confused and need more time to fill it up as it should be the simple question. My hubby also jokes at me when I need to say if my name is INC as my French ID written, he jokes me your name is INCorporation?? (Huftt that’s so annoying for sure!!)




Now as I married my French man, I’m a bit less annoyed with filling out the forms especially for family name column because I could put his family name as my married name. so some problems have solved the cause of that.

But the questions from everybody once they see my French ID are always the same, why like that? How is that possible? Etc. So, I still need to explain them and tell them my story and even like that I still could see if they do not really understand why.

I never imagined before in the case of Family name is really sensitive and very important here, and never thought if it will disturb me a lot and the reality made me crazy and I try to ask everywhere how to change the position of my real name in the right position on my ID.

Read here also aboutΒ Renewing my French Temporary ID card

I ask some forums about that and for me I don’t have real answers, I try to negotiate with the staff admin here and also the same no solutions except I let it like that or I should change or add name and for that process I should do in my country that’s mean I will spend more time and more money for that.

And WHY here in France family name is important? the classic answer is because we could recognize yourΒ  great grandparent or something like that ( kind of historical reason)

So I try to forget it as a problem and I will let it like that even it always annoying because each time I need to tell the history why my name like that. I think I need recording my story and each time someone asking me I just need to turn it on and let them listen to it by themselves LOL.

Something that I’ve learned from this to the case is for my future member of the family ( it already start from little K) I should put the Family name on their Names!! and with this thing slowly but sure I ‘ve learned the new culture in my life and it’s FRENCH Culture. and how about you? are you have the same case like me? if so, share yours on my comment below πŸ˜€

22 thoughts on “The Family Name, is it important?

  1. Pardon my ignorance, but I didn’t know that some cultures only have first names. I understand how it could be frustrating for you to have the need to explain why you only have one name. People do get curious. Now I know why so thanks!

  2. That’s really interesting!! I can only imagine what a pain this can be. I remember getting questioned constantly because my military spouse ID didn’t match my license and I was living in a different state. So annoying!

  3. I’m Indonesian. I don’t have my family name on my papers in Indonesia. When I live in the U.S., I put down my family name on papers for college and stuff cause no one would be able to pronounce my long middle name. So, I have to juggle both names (the long one for official papers with the government because that’s what’s on my passport and the short one for my everyday life).

    • oh Hi!!! so happy could have Indonesian also here!! hihihi :D, yes, actually once you had 2 or 3 words of name, it will be more easy for pick one of them as your family name but once you just one word of names like “BUDI” or “Wati” (so typical Indonesian name), they will have the same story like mine πŸ™‚ and maybe some countries will allow them to double their name for both first and last name.

  4. I think you’re right, it depends on the person so better to just stick to what you works for you and let others do what works foor them. Great post, thanks for sharing.

  5. This is interesting to me. I never knew or even considered there were countries that did utilize the family name. I take mine for granted. Thank you for sharing your story.

  6. That’s so incredibly interesting! I’ve never considered how family names may not be a part of other cultures. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m Canadian – family names are pretty standard here. But I’m sure there must be some people here who have similar experiences to yours.
    Your story was so interesting. I’m sorry for the frustration you’ve had to deal with along the way. But I’m grateful you shared it – I’ve learned something new 😊.

  7. Wow, I’m glad you shared this post because I had no idea. I’m glad you got it all figured out but I’m sure you will defiantly be explaining this over and over.

Leave a Comment