How to fill in names in forms in the Netherlands

When filling in forms in the Netherlands, many internationals struggle when confronted with voorletters and tussenvoegsel and wonder what and why they need to fill in these parts of the form.

In most forms one is asked to indicate voornaam, voorletters, achternaam, and sometimes there is also a field called tussenvoegsel.

Voornaam is the name of the person

John Campbell would indicate “John”, Liz Beatrice Cunningham would indicate “Liz”.

If “Liz” is a roepnaam, an abbreviation of “Elizabeth”, then she would still indicate “Liz” under voornaam.

Voorletters are the first letters of all names that appear in all the official documents (ID, passport, birth certificate, bankcard etc.) 

If Liz Beatrice Cunningham’s names are “Elizabeth Beatrice”, she would indicate E.B.  under voorletters.
The voorletters are important to distinguish between members of the same family
In order to distinguish between “Christa Elise Lang” and “Connie Elvira Lang”, they would indicate Chr. E. and C. E.. These voorletters would be indicated in the same way in all official documents.

Tussenvoegsel in a name is a family name affix that is positioned between the person’s given name and the main part of the surname / family name

In “Vincent van Gogh” the tussenvoegsel is van, in “Jennifer de Boer” it is de, in “Jennifer Elisabeth van der Brugge” it is van der etc..

Achternaam is the family name

Only if the form doesn’t have any space to fill in the tussenvoegsel, under achternaam one would indicate the whole name, with affix. Otherwise it would only be the family name: “Jenny van der Brugge” would indicate only Brugge as her achternaam.

To sum it up, if Jennifer Elisabeth van der Brugge calls herself “Jen”:

Voornaam: Jen

Voorletters: J. E.

Tussenvoegsel: van der

Achternaam: Brugge


Voornaam: Jen

Voorletters: J. E.

Achternaam: van der Brugge

Or… Paco (Francisco) Antonio de Aguilar Gonzalez:

Voornaam: Paco

Voorletters: F. A.

Tussenvoegsel: de

Achternaam: Aguilar Gonzalez


Voornaam: Paco

Voorletters: F. A.

Achternaam: de Aguilar Gonzalez

If you fill in a Dutch survey it can be that you’re asked for your bijnaam. This is the name you like to be called. For example, if your name is Elizabeth but you like to be called Ellie, Ellie would be your bijnaam. It is not your official name, but one that people use to call you. 

If you want to know more about Dutch names and regulations, have a look at this site or this one about personal record database in the Netherlands.

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  1. Pingback: Unseen Habits: Forms, Addresses, and Names – A Hausdorff World

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