I am trying to fill out some French documents.

There are places where I need to fill:

NOM : _____
Prénom : ________

and there are places where I need to fill:

NOM et Prénom : "

Now I am pretty sure that the second one asks me to fill in "Surname First name" But what about the first one?

In the first one "NOM" appears separately and a literal translation of NOM is NAME so I am not sure whether I have to write my full name and then my first name for Prénom or just my surname?

I think this question is on-topic because it asks about the usage of the French word "NOM" in formal settings.


3 Answers 3


"Nom" has the generic meaning of "name" and "noun" (nom d'un lieu, nom composé, un garçon répondant au nom de François, nom de guerre, au nom de la loi...), but as personal data it indicates the surname and it's short for "nom de famille".

Source: Il Boch - Dizionario Francese-Italiano e Italiano-Francese, 4th edition, Zanichelli.

So it's just the surname where you have Nom, and surname and name where you have Nom et prénom.

  • 1
    May I ask why an Italian<>French dictionary is relevant here? Thanks.
    – Lambie
    Apr 8, 2022 at 17:28
  • 1
    @Lambie The person is properly referencing the material they used, as they should, see the help: french.stackexchange.com/help/referencing. Apr 8, 2022 at 17:54
  • 1
    @Lambie It's the reason Earendelle said, of course: I'm backing my statement by referencing the source of my piece of information, which is an Italian<>French dictionary from a reputable Italian editor. I should mention that it isn't a direct quote, because I've elaborated the content of the section dedicated to the word nom.
    – user28573
    Apr 8, 2022 at 19:37
  • @Gae.S. Benvenuto sul sito francese! Qui apprezziamo i contributi dei nostri cugini transalpini! :-)
    – jlliagre
    Apr 8, 2022 at 20:59
  • Well, you didn't answer the question as far as I can see so I don't see the pont....including explaining the all caps for NOM in the question.
    – Lambie
    Apr 9, 2022 at 16:00

For forms in France. And also letters you receive from official sources like a French government agency.

NOM is nom de famille, or last name or surname. Prénom is first name.

And just so you know: It is useful to know that in French official-type documents, they always put the last name in all caps and first. So you get: SMITH, John in lists.

That's why nom is written NOM and Prénom is in lower case.

If you have a middle name that you commonly use, the only place to put it is with your first name like this: Jean Marie. Or you can just leave it out if you don't have one you commonly use. It's true that then it will be interpreted as a first name with two parts in France. Them's the breaks. :)

[Here's a little story: I used to work for the French-American Chamber of Commerce in the States (not saying which city). The president sent out official letters to people like the CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank and he insisted on using all caps for the last name, like this: Dear Mr. SMITH, I tried to tell him many times that it was simply not done in English, and he did not believe me. So embarrassing. :)]

PS: This is for France. I am unfamiliar with how they do things in other French-speaking countries.

Prénom: John

NOM et Prénom: SMITH John [not sure of how exactly to write that, I would have to see the actual form.]

There is a famous French movie by Louis Malle called Lacombe Lucien where the name of the character is actually Lucien Lacombe but the filmmaker reversed the name on purpose to imitate bureaucracy, and maybe more... It is about World War II [I will leave it up to you to read about it.]

  • 1
    A middle name should not be put it in the Prénom field. That should (and must) be done if the label is Prénoms and with a comma between the first and middle name. Jean Marie is wrong. It's either Jean-Marie (prénom) or Jean, Marie (prénoms).
    – jlliagre
    Apr 8, 2022 at 17:43
  • @jlliagre I have a middle name, I lived in France, I always put in my first and middle name and always put it after the prénom field. And I always received my official mail: WEATHERSON, Jean Marie**// OK: Jean-Marie is FRENCH. But **in English, my first name can be Jean (like the jeans one wears) and my middle name can be Marie, which is then for a form in France: Jean Marie. Or: John David for a guy. The point is for the thing to come out right in reproduction. Please don't try to beat me at this because you were never a foreigner with a middle name living in France.
    – Lambie
    Apr 8, 2022 at 17:47
  • SMITH. John David for a man, for example.
    – Lambie
    Apr 8, 2022 at 17:58
  • That depends on what French documents this is about. As far as the French État civil is concerned, Jean Marie breaks the rules. Prénoms des personnes désignées dans l'acte: Les prénoms doivent toujours être indiqués dans l'ordre où ils sont inscrits à l'état civil. Les prénoms simples sont séparés par une virgule, les prénoms composés comportent un trait d'union. Les prénoms précèdent toujours le nom patronymique.
    – jlliagre
    Apr 8, 2022 at 18:09
  • @jlliagre I repeat, as a foreigner living in France, I never had any issues at all. I don't have a French état civil. However, I always got my mail properly and all the documents I did have like a carte de séjour or social security or caisse complémentaire letters or god know's what else never were a problem. There is another point here: If my foreign documents say: Jean Marie Weatherson and my French ones say: Weatherson, Jean Marie, that is right for my name. Who cares if it is called "middel name" in English? It is irrelevant.
    – Lambie
    Apr 8, 2022 at 18:14

Nom = surname (aka last name), in both instances.

Nom never means "full name" - that is nom et prénom in French.

  • 2
    In legal documents, "nom" is "surname", but in everyday speech "nom" can also mean full name or even first name. Apr 8, 2022 at 14:28

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