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If you’ve gotten married, had a divorce or otherwise chosen to change your name, there can be a lot of paperwork, especially if you have government identification such as a passport.
But what do you do if your maiden name is on a passport? It’s still possible to travel if your name doesn’t match your ID, but there’s some extra steps involved.
Let’s check out how it works, what you’ll need to bring and how to change your passport.
Using your maiden name on a passport
Traveling with a maiden name on a passport can be done, but you’ll need to bring paperwork proving that you’ve had your name legally changed.
» Learn more: When you should renew your passport
Paperwork required if your passport has a maiden name
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, citizens or permanent residents who’ve had their names changed can use their previously issued passports.
In order to travel with it, you'll need to bring proof of your name progression. This can include paperwork such as:
A marriage certificate.
A divorce decree.
Court documents showing your legal name change.
This means that using a passport with a maiden name after marriage is still a viable option — which is good news as the time to process a passport renewal can take as long as 13 weeks.
» Learn more: The guide to different types of U.S. passports
Changing the name on your passport
Tired of dragging along your marriage certificate whenever you leave the country? There are two ways that you can change the information on your passport so that it reflects your current name.
For recently issued passports
If you received your passport less than one year ago, you can use form DS-5504 to request a correction of your information. There are three instances in which travelers are eligible to use a DS-5504:
You changed your name by marriage or court order less than one year after your most recent U.S. passport was issued.
The identifying information in your passport was printed incorrectly.
You paid full price for your passport and its duration was limited to two years or less (for reasons other than serious damage or losses of your previous passports).
It’s free to get a new passport using form DS-5504, but be aware that you’ll need to attach proof of your name change.
If you have international travel within 14 days and need a new passport, it’s possible to make an appointment at a U.S. passport agency.
For passports issued more than a year ago
If your passport is more than a year old when you change your name, you’ll have to complete a renewal rather than a correction of information. This is done via form DS-82, though there are certain requirements you’ll need to meet to be eligible.
Renewals using DS-82 are done by mail, and your current passport must meet these criteria:
You submit it with your application.
The passport is undamaged other than normal wear and tear.
Was issued when you were age 16 or older.
Was issued within the last 15 years.
Has your current name — or you can document your name change with your paperwork.
If your passport doesn’t meet these requirements, you’ll have to apply for a new passport in person using form DS-11.
» Learn more: How to get your first passport
Traveling without a passport
Don’t have proof of your name change or don’t want to travel with a passport in your maiden name? It’s still possible to travel internationally, even without a passport.
Here are a couple of different options from which to choose.
Have you ever traveled on a cruise? Depending on where you’re going, you may be able to enjoy your journey without the need for a passport.
Closed-loop cruises begin and end at the same U.S. port, which means that U.S. citizens need only bring their birth certificates and a government-issued photo ID to board. One example is certain Alaska cruises.
» Learn more: Cruises where you don’t need a passport
Land or sea border crossings
Curious about other ways you can travel with your maiden name on a passport? U.S. citizens entering the United States by a land or sea border crossing don’t need a passport. Instead, they’ll simply need an eligible form of ID. This includes:
U.S. passport card.
Enhanced driver’s license.
Enhanced tribal card.
Military ID card.
These rules apply to land crossings between the United States, Mexico and Canada, so don’t feel like you need to miss out on the tacos just because you don’t have a valid passport.
Note, however, that you will need your passport if you intend to travel by air to any other country — even Canada and Mexico.
» Learn more: Steps to take if you lose your passport
Traveling with a maiden name on passport recapped
If you’ve changed your name but don’t have proof, you’ll need to renew your passport in person before traveling.
And even if neither of these options is viable for you, it’s still possible to travel internationally without a passport at all — just be sure to bring along that birth certificate and an ID on eligible trips.
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