Whether due to marriage, divorce or court order, if you’re legally changing your name, you’ll also have a lot of things to update with your shiny new name. If you have a passport and you plan on traveling internationally in your new name, one of the things that need updating is your passport. If you don’t follow all of the necessary steps to complete a passport name change, your travel plans can become a bit of a headache. It can be an intricate process to change your name on your passport, and even a messy one if you show up to the airport with a passport in a name that doesn’t match the name on your ticket.
To avoid any tearful exchanges or missed flights, here’s everything you need to know about getting a passport in your new name.
Know Your Situation
The U.S. Department of State requires you follow different measures for changing the name on your passport based on your situation. You’ll be categorized into three areas, each with its own requirements and steps. Here are the categories:
- Your passport is less than a year old. If you want to change your name on a passport that was issued less than a year ago, you’ll need to submit Form DS-5504 by mail, your current passport, the document proving your name change and a passport photo.
- Your passport was renewed over a year ago. You’ll fill out Form DS-82 instead for eligible applicants by mail and a Form DS-11 for in-person application.
- You can’t document your name change. This is for specific circumstances, such as you need your passport before you’ve received any legal documents needed for your renewal (marriage certificate, court order, etc). If this is you, you’ll have to fill out a Form DS-11 and apply in person. You’ll also likely need a Form DS-60 Affidavit Regarding a Change of Name.
Check the Fees
Pro-tip: If you’re on a time crunch and can’t wait the usual 6-8 weeks for your updated or new passport we recommend biting the bullet and paying the $60 fee to expedite the process–a small fee to pay to half your wait time to about three weeks.
Completing a passport name change doesn’t always mean paying a hefty fee. If your passport is less than a year old (new or renewed), you can get a new passport with your new name on it, free of charge. To do so, you’ll need to fill out a passport application (Form DS-5504). Once complete, mail it in to address listed on the form and be sure to include the following important documentation
– Your current U.S. passport
– Proof of your name-change (ie: a certified copy of your marriage certificate, or a court order referencing the change.)
– A new passport photo
However, if it has been over a year since your passport was issued, you’ll have to pay either a Renewal or First-Time Applicant Fee which ranges between $110 – $175. Don’t have any official documentation to show as proof of your name change? Unfortunately, that means still have to pay the fees mentioned above as well as file for the new or renewed passport in person.
Gather Up Your Documents
All that paperwork you’ll have to send in that we mentioned above? Unfortunately, it’s not just an easy scan and print job, and photocopying your marriage license, divorce decree or court order won’t suffice as proof of a name change. You also can’t just produce a notarized copy of the document when you are applying for a name change on your passport. The U.S. Department of State requires these proof-of-name-change documents are either the originals or certified copies. If you are worried about getting the original document back in mail-in applications, it’s best to produce a certified copy instead.
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Take Processing Time Into Account
Before you start making those international travel plans, you’ll want to be sure you’ll have your passport back in time. Be sure you give yourself plenty of time to actually have your new passport in your hand before you pack your bags for the airport. The busier the time of the year, the slower the turnaround, processing time might be for passport renewals. Here’s a breakdown of the timelines you can expect, based on your method of completing the renewal:
– 6-8 Weeks: if you’re mailing in your old passport, without paying any expedited shipping or processing fees (as mentioned above)
– 2-3 Weeks: if you paid the $60 expedite the process
– 8 Business Days: if you go into an agency or passport center to submit your paperwork
Make Sure Your Passport Name Matches the Name on Your Ticket
Particularly in the case of changing your name after a marriage, you can meet your first bump in the road on your honeymoon before you even take off if your name on your passport doesn’t match the name on your ticket. You may have found the best flight deals for your dream honeymoon, but the work doesn’t stop there if you’re planning on changing your name. Even if you are planning on changing your name after your wedding, you don’t need to book your honeymoon ticket in your new name until you have actually changed your name. It’s best to make the change once you get home from your honeymoon or before you book your flight in that new name, If there’s a chance you won’t have your new passport in time, book the trip in your maiden name as name changes don’t happen right when you say, “I do.” If you do book that ticket in your new name, before making the change on your passport, you’re going to face some major challenges at the airport and might even have to buy a new ticket in your old name at the airport.
Have you changed your name on your passport? What surprised you about the process? Share your experience with us in the comments below!