Naming procedures: Names structures and how to record them in GCMS
This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.
Accuracy is a key consideration in name identification as it can have a significant impact on a client’s ease of travel, access to Canada, and access to Canadian services. It enhances program integrity and improves operational efficiency.
Understanding primary and secondary identifiers
A name usually consists of two parts, the given name(s) and the family name(s). The family name(s) is/are normally considered to be the primary identifier, and all remaining components, normally the given name(s), is/are considered to be the secondary identifiers.
Family Name(s) (surname) = Primary Identifier(s)
Given Name(s) = Secondary Identifier(s)
In the example above, Normann is the family name (surname), which is the primary identifier that will be recorded as the family name in CIC’s system of record. Kari is the given name, which is the secondary identifier that will be recorded as the given name.
Where it is determined that the individual’s name cannot be divided into two parts, the name (either the family name or given name), as it appears on the document used to establish it, will be defined as the primary identifier and will be recorded in the family name field in CIC’s system of record.
For example, if a client’s travel document displays the name George in the given name field and the family name field is blank, George becomes the primary identifier and will be recorded in the family name field. The given name field will be left blank in CIC’s system of record.
This is consistent with ICAO guidelines and will facilitate future name searches.
Multiple (compound) given or family names
Multiple component names should be recorded into the appropriate given name and/or family name fields. They should not be arbitrarily broken down into various names and inserted into distinct fields of systems of record, such as the AKA (alias) or other name fields. If it is unclear how the client’s name is broken into the primary and secondary identifiers, reviewing the document’s Machine Readable Zone (MRZ) will indicate how the issuing authority has established the name. Exceptions to this rule are outlined in Names where spousal relationship is indicated and Names where filial relationship is indicated sections, and future exceptions will be explained in Operational Bulletins.
Transliterated and non-transliterated names
A travel document’s issuing state is responsible for the transliteration of identifiers on that document into the Roman alphabet. The spelling on the document in the Roman alphabet is used to establish the name record in CIC’s system of record, and will be printed on immigration and citizenship documents, with the exception of French accents, which will be recorded in CIC’s system of record and on CIC issued documents. This includes cases for which no transliteration standards exist within a State.
Transliteration and French accent exceptions
If a document used to identify a name contains a name with French accents such as (Â - À - É - Ê - Ë - È - Ï - Î - Ô - Ü - Ù - Û - Ç) in the VIZ, the same spelling can be used when establishing a name record in CIC’s system of record.
Transliteration and characters of foreign alphabet
If a document used to identify a name contains a name or part of a name in a foreign alphabet, the MRZ or the MRC, if present, will take precedence over the VIZ to determine the name and its spelling. For example:
- The VIZ of a Swedish passport could present the name as “Pöllä” while the MRZ or MRC would render the name as "POELLAE" and the name on the application form could be spelled "POLLA." In such a case, the spelling of the MRZ or MRC is to take precedence over any other spelling.
Non-transliterated names or portions of names
In cases where the acceptable document contains both a name transliterated into the Roman alphabet and a name in the original language, the transliterated name, i.e., the one in Roman alphabet, will be the name used for official purposes. This also applies to cases where the name in Roman alphabet is not as complete as the name in the original language.
The names found in the original language should never be recorded as part of the primary name or printed on citizenship and immigration documents, unless they contain French accents, in which case they are recorded in CIC’s system of record and on CIC issued documents. Where possible, these names will be recorded as an "AKA" (alias) or "other name" in CIC’s system of record, for verification purposes. ICAO transliteration guidelines, which may be found in Appendix 9 of ICAO Document 9303 at www.icao.int, should be used as reference tool.
Any request for a variation in transliteration will be treated as a request for a change of name and the procedures outlined in Section 6, Requests for a Change of Name must be followed, even if the spelling requested is noted in the file.
Names with patronymics and matronymics
What is a patronymic or matronymic?
A patronymic is a name acquired from one’s father’s, grandfather’s or earlier male ancestor’s first name. A component of a name based on the name of one’s mother or a female ancestor is a matronymic. Each is a means of conveying lineage and provides invaluable information about a person.
Various ways exist to indicate patronymics and matronymics. The following is a Russian example:
A patronymic derived from the father’s personal name would apply equally to children of both genders, but with different endings:
For a man, it will usually end -OVICH (‘son of’), -EVICH, or –YEVICH
e.g. Ivan’s son will have the patronymic Ivanovich.
For a woman, it will be -OVNA (‘daughter of’), -EVNA, or –YEVNA
e.g. Ivan’s daughter will have the patronymic Ivanovna.
As such, a Russian man whose father’s given name is Ivan may be Mikhail Ivanovich KARLOV (given name + patronymic + family name).
A Russian woman whose father’s given name is Ivan may be Anastassia Ivanovna KARLOVA (given name + patronymic + family name).
Precedence of MRZ in cases where patronymics and matronymics are used
Patronymics and matronymics will be identified as part of the name as per the travel document’s MRZ or MRC, if available. For instance, if a patronymic is found in the family name portion of the MRZ and MRC, it should be recorded in the family name field in CIC’s system of record, unless it falls within one of the exceptions identified in Names where spousal relationship is indicated and Names where filial relationship is indicated sections, Exceptional Situations or an Operational Bulletin.
When no MRZ or MRC available in cases where patronymics and matronymics are used
If no MRZ or MRC is present, patronymics and matronymics will be identified as part of the name only if they are found in Roman alphabet on the document used to identify the name. Patronymics and matronymics shall not be identified in the primary name if they do not appear on the primary document used to identify the name. They must, however, be recorded as an AKA (alias) or other name in CIC’s system of record.
Relationships and names with other titles, prefixes, degrees or decorations
Names with titles, prefixes, degrees, decorations
Titles, prefixes, suffixes, professional and academic qualifications, decorations, honours, awards, and hereditary status should not be identified as part of the name, unless they are included in a document’s MRZ, which means that the issuing state considers it to be an integral part of the name. Should a client wish to have such a title added to his or her name once in Canada, he or she should do so in accordance with the procedures outlined on the page Client request for change of name for reasons other than clerical/administrative error.
In this instance, the VIZ includes the title, MR. in the given name field, but it does not appear in the MRZ. Therefore, MR. should not be recorded in CIC’s system of record.
Names where spousal relationship is indicated
Where an issuing state has included “épouse de”, “epse” or “ep.” (“spouse of”) or “wife of” (or “husband of”) in the MRZ or VIZ of a document, officers will omit this as part of the primary name. The other name will be recorded as name type AKA (alias) or other name in CIC’s system of record.
For example, if the client’s passport indicates Nour EP. Paul Sajan in the family name field, and Ibrahim Samad in the given name field, the family name will be recorded as NOUR and the given name will be recorded as Ibrahim Samad. The version of the name that includes the spouse’s name will be recorded as name type AKA (alias) or other in CIC’s system of record.
Names where filial relationship is indicated
In cases where the issuing state has included “son of” or “daughter of” or “bin” or “bint” and the father’s name in the MRZ or VIZ of a document, officers will omit this as part of the primary name in CIC’s system of record, and it will not be printed on CIC issued documents. However, the names that include “son of” or “daughter of” will be recorded as name type “son/daughter of”, and names that include “bin” or “bint” will be recorded as name type AKA (alias) or other in CIC’s system of record.
For example, if the client’s passport indicates Ahmad bin Husain bin Muhammad (translated as Ahmad son of Husain (who in turn is) son of Muhammad), the family name will be recorded as Husain and the given name will be recorded as Ahmad. The version of the name that includes the “son of” or “daughter of” or “bin” or “bint” and the father’s name will be recorded as name type AKA (alias) or other in CIC’s system of record.
Another way of indicating a filial relationship may also be written as IBN/BEN/OULD WULD). For example, if the client’s passport indicates Husain Ould Ahmad Ould Muhammad (translated as Husain son of Ahmad (who in turn is) son of Muhammad), the family name will be recorded as Ahmad and the given name will be recorded as Husain. The version of the name that includes the “son of” or “daughter of” or “IBN/BEN/OULD/WULD” and the father’s name will be recorded as name type AKA (alias) or other in CIC’s system of record.
Considerations when recording the name in CIC’s system of record
Character limitations and truncation in systems of record
When a client’s name is recorded in GCMS, there are 50 characters each for the family name(s) and given name(s). Therefore, the client’s full name, as it appears on the documentation used to identify the name, will be recorded in GCMS, in the exact order found on the document.
- Other systems of record (for example, FOSS)
In some systems of record, character limitations do not always allow for full names to be recorded. In cases where a single primary and/or secondary identifier exceeds the character limitation for the family name field, characters shall be entered until the character limit is reached, in the exact order they are found on the document.
In all cases, any names omitted due to space constraints will be recorded as an AKA (alias) or other name and an explanation note must be inserted into the client’s file.
Promoting names from FOSS to GCMS
When promoting a client from FOSS to GCMS, ensure that the client’s name is correct and that the name that appears in GCMS is accurate and not truncated. If there are any errors, please correct them immediately. The name that appears in GCMS should be the same as the one on the primary document. Please refer to Documents used to establish a name to determine the correct name.
Capital versus lower case letters
All names will be recorded as shown on primary documents and to the extent possible (due to systems of record) lower and upper case letters will mirror the way the names are recorded on those documents. If this is not possible, a note must be entered into CIC’s system of record to reflect the change and the reason for which the name was not recorded as it appeared on the primary document.
e.g. Andrew MacDonald, not Andrew Macdonald
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