International Highlight: Dealing With Two Surnames

While uncommon in English-speaking countries, people from Spanish-speaking countries often have two surnames; one from each parent. As my wife is Peruvian in heritage, we have followed this tradition and therefore the surname of my children is ‘Tribe Aviles’. Both children will hand ‘Tribe’ down to their children.

On casual occasions the father’s surname is used but for more formal situations, both are used. For example, in an e-mail my son would sign ‘Orlando Tribe’ but on his passport it reads ‘Orlando Tribe Aviles’.

One obvious consequence of this is the usual security question of ‘mother’s maiden name’ is useless in Spanish-speaking countries as it is in their full name. A more subtle consequence comes from trying to store this in Dynamics CRM.

What We Have To Work With

This is the default appearance of the Contact form in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.


We have a ‘First Name’ field, a ‘Middle Name’ field and a ‘Last Name’ field. We have no additional ‘Mother’s Maiden Name’ field.

Method 1: Using The Last Name For Both Names

In this case, as shown in the above screenshot, I have populated the Last Name field with both names. The Contact’s name populates correctly at the top of the form and if we set the full name convention to be ‘Last Name, First Name’, it will appear as “Tribe Aviles, Orlando” which makes sense. The problem with this approach is if I need to send an informal e-mail or message to Orlando, I cannot address him as ‘Orlando Tribe’ but must use the formal version.

Method 2: Using The Middle Name Field To Store The First Surname


After a bit of internet research, it appears this is common practice in the USA but causes a number of problems. The first one is the full name will not populate correctly and needs to be adjusted (Settings-Administration-System Settings). However, in a database where there are people with ‘true’ middle names it becomes confusing which are surnames and which are middle names. This will become impractical if we need to send out informal letters where we would need to use <First Name> <Middle Name> for people with a Spanish name and <First Name> <Last Name> for those with an English Name. We have similar problems if we need to send out a formal letter.

Method 3: Adding a New Field For The Mother’s Last Name


This one is not a bad compromise. We can send out formal and informal communication without too much difficulty. The only downside is the Full Name shows the informal format, not the formal one. also, you will need to add the Mother’s Last Name field to the searchable fields for Contact.

Method 4: Adding Fields For The Two Surnames And Combining Into The Last Name

Given I am in Australia and not South America or Spain I thought I would ask someone who is affected by this every day, fellow CRM MVP Jimmy Larrauri. He has a solution which works well for him; he adds two additional fields to CRM for the two surnames and then uses JScript to combine these into the Last Name field.


This provides all the advantages of the first method with the benefit of being able to use either of the two surnames, as desired. If JScript seems like too much hard work, you could also relax the Last Name from being compulsory and then use a workflow to populate the Last Name field, after saving the Contact record.


If you are working with Spanish speaking customers you may need to accommodate their needs when storing names, such as the capture of two last names. As with all design considerations, there are a number of different ways to achieve a similar outcome. The key is in understanding what information is to be stored and how it is going to be used. When this is understood, the best method can be chosen to meet the needs of the customer.