American born in Taiwan: English birth certificate

Ruby was born in Taiwan and has dual citizenship from her parents, but the US does not know of her existence until we register her birth with American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) (more details in this post). Since her dad is American and mom is Taiwanese, her English last name follows her dad and her Mandarin last name is with me. The rest of the post is about the process to acquire an English birth certificate with a different name from the translated Chinese name.

Why it matters

Every Taiwanese national has a name in Mandarin, and it has a corresponding English name from the official translation system. It is not a problem if this is also their legal name in the US. However, if we like her name on her US passport to be Ruby with her dad’s surname (different from the Roman translated name), AIT requires an English birth certificate of the same name.

When it matters

This could only be an issue at public hospitals like NTU Hospital (NTUH) in Taipei. I’ve heard that private hospitals are able to issue an English birth certificate with any name you choose. NTUH staff also said that they used to issue an English birth certificate with the name of the parent’s choice, but the policy changed recently. A different English name from Roman translated Chinese name has to be verified by a government organization.

Process at NTUH

It requires multiple trips to the hospital data office and a local household registration office (戶政事務所). I’d recommend making some of these trips while staying at the hospital if you don’t live near them. Our goal is to acquire an English birth certificate with an English name that’s different from their translated name in Mandarin.

Prerequisite: a Mandarin name

Having the Mandarin name ready as early as possible. I spent hours calculating and picking the baby’s name before and after birth, it might sound silly but people believe in the importance of having an auspicious name in Taiwan.

The process

I’d leave two weeks for the entire process.

  • At birth, the hospital automatically issues a few copies of the birth certificate in Mandarin without a name (a lot of Taiwanese decide on the name after birth based on time of birth)
  • Register the child at the household registration office: a Mandarin name is required, and you can find the documents needed here (in Mandarin).
    • At the household registration office, you’d get a Taiwanese ID number for the child and an updated household registration paper (戶口名簿). At the same time, they can also apply for a bunch of other services for the child – healthcare IC card with NHI, and applying for a few other subsidies from the government. The child does not get an ID card until 14 years old or upon special requests.
  • Apply for an English birth certificate at the hospital with the desired English name in the “Also Known As” field: a household registration paper with the child’s name or any other government-issued documents is required. The main English name on the certificate has to be translated Mandarin name
  • Apply for an English household paper (英文戶籍謄本) at the household registration office with the desired English name: an English birth certificate with the desired name in the “Also Known As” field from the hospital is required from the previous step. It takes about a week to prepare the English paper, so another trip to the office is needed
  • Pick up the English household paper at the household registration office about a week after application
  • Apply for an English birth certificate for the second time at the hospital: now with an English household paper with the child’s desired English name, we can apply for the English birth certificate of the name we like!


That’s a lot of trips to the hospital paper office and household registration office! We are so glad to be done with this part, and the next step is to register her birth with AIT soon.