Does your name differ on your documents? Avoid them being rejected for legalisation

If you are having your documents legalised for use overseas, you may run into issues if your name differs between your document and your official ID. This could vary for a host of reasons, including marriage, divorce, Deed Poll or simply not including your full name. To avoid experiencing delays and additional costs, this article will help you understand how to prepare your paperwork for processing.

In this article

What We’ll Cover

  • What differences matter on your certificate

  • Which documents it applies to

  • How to get your document accepted with differences of name

  • Avoiding further issues with your certificate

How much variation really matters for legalisation?

It is dependant on the country you’re visiting, but most destinations will require proof that a variation of name relates to the same person. For example, you may have studied a degree at university, and have since got married or changed your name via Deed Poll for other reasons. Your current official ID such as your passport, which you will need to present as part of your application for some countries, will display a different name.

It may be that the name on several of your certificates differ, if you are having more than one legalised and obtained them at different stages in your life. In this case, it will only be the documents which don’t bear the name you are currently using which will need to be verified.

Other differences can be as simple as having a middle name, which is not listed on a certificate, or having an abbreviated version of your name used. These will both require supporting evidence when it comes to your application.

Which documents does this apply to?

This will apply to all education documents being legalised for use in a country other than it’s country of issue. For example, if you studied a TEFL course in the UK and wanted to teach in China, the authorities would want the certificate to be legalised to verify it’s authenticity, before issuing you your work permit.

China has one of the most stringent processes, where a copy of your passport photo page must be submitted along with your award certificates and police clearance report.

Below we will cover the most popular destination countries for which we handle documents, where name variations can cause issues. If we receive your documents for a different destination and we feel there will be come clarification required in order for them to be accepted, we will advise you of your options.

What can I do to have my document accepted?


If you have an education award which bears a different name to that listed on your passport, there are several ways in which this can be rectified, dependent on the reason for the variation.

For a discrepancy due to marriage or divorce, this can be simple to rectify. You must be able to provide an original copy of your marriage certificate or an original stamped copy of your Decree Absolute. When you attend the Visa Processing Centre in order to submit your documentation, you can present this as a supporting document. The marriage certificate or Decree Absolute will not need to be legalised itself for this purpose. You can read about applying for a job in China in our full guide to the paperwork processes here.

A common issue our customers face is when a qualification has been issued with either an abbreviated version of their first name, or it omits any middle names they have. This can happen on academic awards but is more common on vocational awards such as TEFL certificates.

If this is the case, you have two options.

Recently studied vocational courses and TEFL companies will likely be able to issue you a new certificate, though dependent on the company there may be an additional administration charge. In terms of academic awards, such as a university degree, or a course you studied a long time ago, you will probably find having a new certificate issued more difficult. This will also require more work providing evidence to prove the difference in name, as well as being a more costly process than a non-academic award.

Please note that a difference in name due to marriage or divorce will not warrant a re-issue of an academic award with your new name, as this is a historical document which bears your name at time of graduation.

If having a new certificate which displays your full legal name is not possible, you can have a Notarial cover sheet attached to your document. This will be need to be completed by a Notary Public, and they will personally verify the difference in name with supporting evidence from yourself. Once they are satisfied, they will produce a statement which attests to their findings and this will then be bound with a ribbon to your award certificate.

This can often be a more costly and time consuming process, but if you are unable to get in touch with the awarding body or they’re unable to issue you a replacement for any reason, this could be the only option.



For Vietnam, if you have a document with a different name to that which you are currently using, you will need to prove any variations relate to the same person; however the procedure usually isn’t as stringent as it is for China.

If for any reason you need to prove a discrepancy in your name, it’s advisable to enquire whether you can have your certificate re-issued in the first instance. If this is not possible, you can have this verified with a solicitor certified cover sheet. This is a quicker and more cost effective method than a Notarial cover sheet and the Vietnamese authorities are happy to accept these as validation.

If you have a change of name due to a marriage, divorce or Deed Poll since achieving your award, the solicitor certified cover sheet will still be required; you will not be able to have this re-issued from the awarding institution.

The solicitor making the declaration will require sight or your official ID as well as your marriage certificate, Decree Absolute or Deed Poll document. Once your cover sheet has been produced, it should be bound correctly to your award document ready for submission for legalisation. This will be classed as a single document, so you will only require one set of legalisation stamps. You can read about the legalisation process for Vietnam in our guide here.

Other countries

Whilst we also handle documents destined for most other countries, including the Middle East, verification of name isn’t usually required for the legalisation process. This is because documents are legalised on a case-by-case basis and are not usually cross-referenced with official ID or permit application forms at the this stage. If there is any variation of name, this will be something you can discuss directly with your employer or whoever you are presenting the documents to in the destination country.

How can I avoid any issues with my certificates?

If you are currently studying, or are planning on studying any courses in the future, we advise you are mindful about having your completion certificates issued with the correct name. Most companies will enquire how you would like your name to appear on your certificate for this reason, as you may have enrolled on the course without using your full name.

It’s is a common occurrence for students to omit middle names, or even use an abbreviation of their forename if that’s how they prefer to be known. It can however cause issues further down the line if you have a document with a different name to that which appears on your ID. Therefore, when it’s close to the end of your course, be proactive in requesting that your full legal name is used.

There may be occasions that you will also need to provide evidence of a name change to your education provider if this change has occurred since you enrolled, but it’s always best to check.

Can I get help with my documents?

You can get in touch with our friendly team of specialists to assist you with your document procedures by giving us a call directly on +44 (0) 330 088 1142 , send us a text message via our WhatsApp, use our live chat system, or e-mail us at We can assist you with your personal circumstances, to ensure your documents are processed correctly, first time, with our 100% acceptance guarantee.

key takeaways

Key Takeaways

Having a slight variation of name, or even having some awards in a maiden name, doesn’t usually cause issues. Therefore it isn’t something most people give much thought too until they start the legalisation process, then trying to solve the problem can seem like a complicated undertaking. As long as you understand the requirements for your destination country, it isn’t too difficult to resolve, and you can save a lot of time trying to get certificates changes or re-issued.

While you’re here, why not keep up to date with all the latest comings and goings by following us on social media?

Ashraf Vachhiat
Ashraf Vachhiat

Ashraf is the Marketing Technologist at Vital Consular, which means he handles all the technicalities involved in bringing this blog to life! He also enjoys creating in-depth articles around current affairs which impact the travel and relocation industry. In his free time, Ashraf relishes travelling as much as possible, and is always looking for quirky spots to take some great photos.

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