How to Get a Passport Name Change After Marriage

Honeymooners who've gotten a fresh passport and changed their name within the past 12 months can get a free update.
Alisha McDarris
By Alisha McDarris 
Edited by Kevin Berry

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Getting married is often cited as one of the happiest days of a person’s life. But if you have international travel planned shortly after the wedding, it can get complicated, especially when a passport name change after marriage is involved.

But when do you have to update your documents with your new last name? And how do you start the process? Here's how to make changing the name on your passport after marriage less stressful.

Do I have to change the name on my passport after marriage?

Technically, the answer is no, you don’t have to complete a passport name change due to marriage right after saying “I do.” In fact, U.S. Customs and Border Protection says that as long as you bring proof of your name change (like a marriage certificate) with you when you travel, you'll be OK, at least when returning to the U.S.

That said, other countries may have different rules and regulations. So before you soar off to distant lands, it’s a good idea to check entry requirements so you arrive prepared. Check online or reach out to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration to determine the best course of action.

If all the destinations in question accept a marriage certificate alongside your old passport, leaving your passport in your unmarried name is a nice option to have, especially if you have travel scheduled soon after your wedding (like a honeymoon), since passport processing times can be painfully long.

Ultimately, if you travel often, it will likely be less hassle to update your passport, and the sooner you complete a name change on a passport after marriage, the easier (and cheaper) it might be.

When to change your name on your passport after marriage

The forms, documents and process to change the name on your passport differ depending on how long after the wedding you start, as well as how long you’ve had your current passport.

The easiest and cheapest way to update the info is if your name changed less than a year after you received your most recent passport and your most recent passport was issued within the past year. In other words, you got a new passport or renewed your passport and then got married, all within the past 12 months.

If that’s the case, unlike a brand new passport application, there’s no fee for applying just because of a name change after marriage.

This is nice for newlyweds who may have applied for their first passport for their honeymoon but want to update it with their new name right away.

However, if it’s been longer than a year since you got married or received your most recent passport, you’ll have to start a more rigorous renewal process, including paying the usual fees.

How to change the name on your passport after marriage

If you do want to complete a name change to your passport — whether it has been more or less than a year since your most recent passport arrived in the mail — here’s what you’ll need to get started.

Less than a year

  • Your most recently issued passport.

  • Form DS-5504.

  • A recent color photograph that adheres to required standards.

  • A certified copy of your marriage certificate with a seal and the officiate’s signature.

However, if your current ID is already in your new name, you won’t need to show a marriage certificate or other proof of the name change.

More than a year

  • Form DS-82.

  • Your most recent passport.

  • A recent color photograph that adheres to required standards.

  • Your original or certified marriage certificate.

  • Applicable fees.

If you’re not eligible to renew by mail — for example, if you don’t have documentation to support a name change due to marriage — you’ll have to apply in person using form DS-11, which more closely resembles the application for a new passport and requires more documentation such as a birth certificate and photo ID.

Changing your passport name after marriage recapped

While it’s not necessary to immediately begin the process of your passport name change to travel internationally, it may be worth the effort.

If you travel frequently and don’t want to have to carry extra documentation — or check with every destination before you visit to make sure your supporting paperwork will be accepted — go ahead and get started as soon as you can.

If it’s been less than a year since your nuptials and since you got your last passport, your updated passport may even be free.

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