Passport Name Change | [How-To Guide] & How Long It Takes

You should already know that the name on all your travel documents needs to match. Otherwise, you may run into problems when you attempt to go through airport security or customs. If the name on your passport does not match the name on your boarding pass, then you may not be allowed to board your flight for international travel. But what if your name has changed? Perhaps you got married, divorced, or went through the legal name change process. We will tell you everything you need to know about changing the name on your passport so that you can rest easy knowing that all your documentation is in order.


How To Perform A Name Change On A U.S. Passport

There are a couple of different ways you might need to perform a name change, depending on how long ago your passport was issued. If you got your passport less than a year ago, then you need to complete Form DS-5504. This is the form used for a name change or limited replacement of a passport that was issued less than a year ago. Complete and mail this form to the National Passport Processing Center. You will need to include your old passport along with the completed application.

If your current passport is more than a year old, then you will complete Form DS-82, the passport renewal application. This form is used for the passport renewal process. This allows you to go ahead and renew your passport and have your new name placed on your new passport. You can perform this renewal by mail as long as you have your old passport and documentation of your name change. Simply complete the application and mail it to the processing center.

Though there are some differences between a passport book and a passport card, the methods described above apply to both passport books and passport cards. The process for getting your name changed on either document is the same. Both of the methods above also assume that you can legally document your name change. This might be through a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or another legal document. If you cannot document the change, then you will need to visit a passport acceptance facility in person. You will be unable to mail your request to the processing center.

Finally, if you simply need to correct your name because there is an error on your original passport, then you will use Form DS-5504. You should complete this form and mail it to the passport processing facility. You should include your old passport along with evidence of the error, such as a document that shows your correct name.


Documentation Required For Your New Passport

So, what documents do you need to provide to perform the name change on your passport? You only need a couple of things in most cases. First, you must always provide your old passport. If you are dealing with a lost or stolen passport, then you will need to start the process over and request a new passport. You should complete a Form DS-11 passport application and provide all the required documents for a brand new passport. When changing your name, the documentation required is the same whether you are using Form DS-82 or Form DS-5504.

You will need to provide your old passport, evidence of your legal name change, a recent passport photo, and the passport fee. The evidence of your name change usually comes in one of three different documents. This is usually either a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order showing your legal name change. If you cannot provide a legal name change document, then the process is a little different.

In that case, you will need to complete Form DS-11 and bring along supporting documents that show secondary evidence of your identification. You will need to complete this process in person at a passport agency or participating post office. Remember that you cannot renew a passport at the post office, but some locations do accept new passport applications. You likely will want to submit a birth certificate as proof of citizenship, but you will also need other records showing your proof of identity. If your driver’s license or other state-issued ID card does not show your current name, then you may be able to show two secondary ID documents. These could be school yearbooks, a student ID, an employee ID, a Social Security card, or some other document that shows your name and photo.


How Long Does It Take To Get A New Passport?

Whether you are getting a passport for the first time or simply changing the name on your current passport, the processing time is about the same. It currently takes 8 to 11 weeks to process a passport application form. This applies to new passport applications, renewals, and name changes. If you choose to pay the expedite fee of $60, then you can expect your passport in about 5 to 7 weeks. Remember that these processing times start when the passport agency receives your application and not the time you mail the application.

Adult passport processing is a little different than that for a child passport. A child’s passport cannot be requested or renewed by mail. They must always be obtained in person. Even though the application is submitted in person, the processing time is still about the same.

For both adult and child passports, you can request an in-person appointment at the passport agency for same-day processing of your application. However, this is limited mostly to life-or-death emergencies. You must have international travel scheduled within the next five business days. Limited appointments are available, so you may be unable to find an appointment in your area.


Timeframe For Updating Your Legal Name On Your Passport

The U.S. government does not have a specific timeframe required for performing a change of name on your passport. The time at which you need to have your name changed on your passport depends on your travel plans. If you have no plans to travel internationally, then there is no requirement that you get your passport updated. However, if you plan to travel soon, then you should go ahead and get the process started.

You should know that all your travel documents need to match when you are traveling. Therefore, your boarding pass, passport, and other forms of identification should all have the same name. If you attempt to travel and your passport information is outdated, then you might run into problems. More than likely, you would not be allowed to board your flight leaving the United States. An unlikely but even worse scenario could find you in a foreign country without the ability to return to the United States. In that case, you would need to visit the U.S. Embassy or Consular in that country to obtain the necessary documents for returning home.


The Bottom Line

U.S. citizens can easily change the name on their passport through the mail with just a few simple documents. Remember that it could take up to three months to receive your new passport, so get the process started early – especially if you have international travel planned. If you cannot legally document your name change, then the process is a little more difficult. You will need to visit the passport agency in person to present secondary evidence of your name change.


Frequently Asked Questions


Do I need to change my passport name after marriage?

Yes, if your passport shows your maiden name, then you should go ahead and get it changed to reflect your new name. Although there is no time limit on getting your name changed, you should go ahead and get it done as soon as possible. Passport services can take up to three months to get your new passport to you currently, so you should start the process soon to avoid travel problems. You only need to provide the completed application form, your old passport, your marriage certificate, a recent passport photo, and the passport fee. Your new passport will be sent to your mailing address once processing is complete.


Can I use my old passport after my name change?

This can get a little tricky. If you have already changed your name on other documents, then you likely cannot use your passport with your old name. All your documents need to match and have the same name. For example, your airline boarding pass must match your passport or other identification used to get through security at the airport. If the names do not match, then you will probably not be allowed to board your flight. If you were recently married and have international travel planned soon, then it might be a good idea to wait until after your travel is completed to change your name on your documents.


Does changing the name on my passport affect my citizenship?

No, changing your name on a valid passport does not affect your U.S. citizenship status. It is simply that — a name change. You are still a U.S. citizen, and you will not need to provide evidence of citizenship to update your name on your passport as long as your passport was issued within the last 15 years. You simply need to provide the U.S. Department of State with legal evidence of your name change, and they will send you a new passport with your current name.


What happens if I have a different name on my passport?

If your passport shows a different name than your other documents, this could be a problem. This is especially true when flying. Security may be unable to verify your identity; therefore, you will likely not be allowed to board your flight. Make sure that your boarding pass and passport display the same name if traveling internationally. If flying domestically, then you should be OK as long as your boarding pass and driver’s license have the same name. In that case, go ahead and get your passport updated as soon as possible to reflect your new name.

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