47 Comments

So you are in line to go to paradise by plane and… what? The employee is starting to look at you weird when they see that your airline ticket and passport does not have the same name posted on them. Next you are taken to an office and questioned by a scary tall looking official. The thought of paradise fades into the horizon as your life turns into a nightmare. Okay, Okay… that is the worst case scenario, but problems can arise if your name does not match your passport. If you plan to travel, you need those names to match.

Passport Background Information and the Law

Did you know that the vast majority of the countries in the world require that you have a passport for entry? That means more than likely, the place you are traveling to, you will need a passport.

Even going to a country such as Canada requires you to have a passport due to the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA). Mexico is restricted by the law as is Canada and the Caribbean. This most pertinent component of the law is known as the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative or commonly referred to as WHTI for short. WHTI requires citizens of the United States, Mexico, Canada, and Bermuda to have a passport or other accepted document that establishes the person's identity and nationality to enter or leave the United States from within the Western Hemisphere.

Although the law was passed in 2004, it went it effect in phases. Air travel requirements kicked in January 1, 2007. Enforcement for land and sea travel went into effect June 1, 2009.

Difficulties of Changing Your Passport Name Before you Travel

As you may already know, getting or renewing a passport can sometimes be a frustrating and drawn out experience. However, getting your name changed on it can be even more frustrating.

Depending on the status or age of your passport, the application you must fill out will vary. The fees (assuming they're applicable to your situation) can also vary. If you plan to use the expedited service to get your passport quicker than normal, there will be an additional fee of $60 on top of the other fees. This can be a good option if your travel plans are just around the corner.

As you can see, your passport can be difficult to change for a variety reasons, such as:

  • The worst difficulty can be that you put the wrong information on the application, leading to a mistake or the application to be deemed invalid due to incorrect information. This leads you having to re-do the application and send it off again, furthering the amount of time it takes for you to get your new passport. This can be problematic because you may be hoping to get your passport the first time around, because you are on a time crunch, just to learn that you will have to wait longer, disrupting your plans.
  • You can print out and send the wrong application.
  • You can forget to send the payment for the fee, or send the wrong fee.
  • You may forget to include the appropriate photo format for the passport I.D.
  • You provide insufficient documentation detailing your change of name event (e.g., marriage certificate, divorce decree).

Difficulties of Changing Your Name on an Already Acquired Airline Ticket

Notice: This following information is usually applicable for the airlines of American, Continental, Delta, Jet Blue, Northwest, United, U.S. Airways, and many other airlines.

When going on your honeymoon or another type of vacation, you most likely choose to buy a round trip ticket. A round trip ticket consists of two things: The going part of the ticket (a front portion) and a coming back part of the ticket (a return portion). Many airlines treat a round trip ticket as a two portion ticket (the front portion and returning portion) and thus, these airlines make it difficult to change your name on your ticket.

When you change your name of your ticket, this changes both the front and return portion of your ticket. If you change the front portion, airlines consider this as rebooking your ticket. This means you have to pay the cost of the ticket and an additional change fee of $50 to $100. If you change the returning portion, you also have to pay a changing fee of $50 to $100. So you end up paying more than you can imagine.

What you can do is call the airline and explain your dilemma to them, you never know, they may accommodate you and not make you pay so much or change your ticket for free. Just make sure that you have your ticket confirmation number, if required, be able to verify your identity, and explain to the agent that your name has changed due to a marriage or other valid reason. The agent will guide you through changing your ticket.

Possible difficulties you may experience include:

  • The worst difficulty can be a rude agent that does not understand and makes your life a little more strenuous when you try to explain your situation. The agent may rebook your ticket incorrectly and you end up with a headache and airline ticket with the wrong information and having to pay for a wrong airline ticket and an expensive fee that you should not be paying because you do not even have the right airline ticket.
  • You have to book another ticket with your changed name and you have to pay both fees which can lead to you paying $100 to $200.
  • An airline that does not allow you to change your name.
  • An airline that only allows you to change your airline ticket's information within a certain time frame and you have passed that deadline so they either refuse to change the information without charging you a lot of money or make you buy another ticket with the right information.
  • You have lost your ticket confirmation number or cannot prove your identity.

Preparing for International and Domestic Travel

You must consider the impact of changing your name before or after traveling because the TSA is strict about your name matching on both your airline ticket and passport. They examine your name for security screening purposes. Prior to your flight, passenger names are made available to the TSA to be checked against the "No Fly" list. Only names that are cleared are given a boarding pass upon check-in to board the plane.

The discussion thus far has focused on passports, which are specific to international travel. But the same rules apply when traveling domestically. If you're traveling on a domestic flight, you'll use an alternative form of I.D. (such as driver's license or state/government issued I.D.), but it's important for the name on such identification to also match your airline tickets.

If you choose to change your name after your travels are complete, you will not have to go through the process of having to explain to the TSA why your names aren't the same from your passport and airline ticket. You would not be required to wait for your passport name to be updated in order to go on your honeymoon, or other travel destination. All you have to do is keep your maiden name until after the honeymoon.

However, you can pay a expedited fee of $60 to have your passport name change processed quicker (which can definitely be a worthwhile option)—but think about it, you are already paying out a lot of money and $60 can be a nice dinner or saved to help pay some of the cost of the vacation, honeymoon, or the cost of the wedding.

Planning Ahead to Avoid Chaos

So you are in line to that trip to paradise and… what? The employee is smiling and telling you "Have a nice flight and an even better vacation." Because guess why? Your passport and your ticket have the same name! That means no more thinking about the worst case scenario, which is not being able to broad your flight.

Yes, there may be difficulty in changing the name of your passport because there are different applications to choose from and you have to remember when you got your passport and for some of the applications, you have to pay a fee. However, changing your ticket information can be even more expensive and frustrating. That is why your need to go ahead and plan ahead.

If you wait to change your passport, you most likely have not changed your ticket name because you are thinking ahead. This means your paradise does not fade into the horizon as the airplane leaves without you and your life turn upside down for the day.

If you wait until after your honeymoon or vacation, you can deal with the passport frustration when you get back and not have to feel like you are rushing. Plus, you have all those other things to worry about if you are getting (or have gotten) married. This also means that you do not have to spend forever on the phone with an airline agent to change your ticket just to learn that you have to get another ticket and pay a changing fee. If you just plan ahead, there is no need to worry about all the money you will be paying out to just change your name.

So now, smiling employee and a trip to paradise vs not being able to broad your flight and having to watch as the airplane to your paradise leaves without you? It is your choice, choose wisely.

47 Comments

  1. janey

    It is time for me to now renew my US passport. I remarried shortly after I received my last passport and although I changed my name to my new married name on my DL, SS and most bank accounts, I did not change my name on my passport. My question is, do I have to legally renew my name on my passport to my married name or can I renew in the same name on my soon to expire passport. I would like to keep my previous name on the passport as it is the last link that I have to my sons last name from my deceased first husband. I do not want to break any laws by doing so.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Janey. That may be problematic, as renewals require you to present identification, which will likely be in your new name.

      Reply
  2. Shimmy

    Thank you so much for your information! This is super helpful. I do have a question that I hope you would be able to help me with.

    I recently got married at the end of January in CA and have moved my maiden name to my middle name and took my husbands last name as my new last name. Now that I read thru some of your posts I really should have just hyphenated his last name onto mine so that I dont have to do anything!

    I have no plans to change my other documents. Exactly how pertinent is it to change all my legal documents (SS, DL, passport, employer)? How bad is it if I just don't change anything? I have properties and a bunch of professional license that I don't want to get caught up with the name changing. Is it bad if I wait a couple of year (or maybe never) put my legal name in effect?

    Since DL and tax are tied in with SS if I don't change SS is that ok? Is it ok to not change my passport and just bring a copy of my marriage license (not certified though) with me since I just renewed it this past year (ugh)?

    Thank you in advance.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Exactly how pertinent is it to change all my legal documents (SS, DL, passport, employer)?

      It's only vital if you really intend to change it. Specifying your intend to change your name when you got married doesn't obligate you to follow through.

      How bad is it if I just don't change anything?

      It's a non-issue.

      Is it bad if I wait a couple of year (or maybe never) put my legal name in effect?

      Not at all.

      Since DL and tax are tied in with SS if I don't change SS is that ok?

      Yes.

      Is it ok to not change my passport and just bring a copy of my marriage license (not certified though) with me since I just renewed it this past year (ugh)?

      If you're not changing your name, you don't need to bring proof of marriage (e.g., marriage license, marriage certificate). Your passport is fine as-is.

      Reply
  3. MJClassy

    My husband and I got married in California 2013. We got a confidential marriage license and plan on having a big old wedding this September. We’ve hid it from our family and while I have changed my last name to his name last name on the confidential marriage license I have not changed it anywhere else. Social security, banking, driver license everything still has my maiden name which I still use 100% of the time.

    I am applying for a brand new passport this week, I want to continue to use my maiden name as everything else I have is in my maiden name. This is a brand new passport. I’m nervous about the section which asks if I have or ever had been married which I indicated as YES and put my husband’s name, will they deny my application by accessing my confidential marriage license and stating my legal last name is different if I apply for the passport using my original maiden name?

    I will change my name at the end of the year (after the wedding) but am nervous for the passport to be declined. Can I still apply for the passport using my maiden name even though my marriage license says his name? Thank you so much in advance, I have my passport appointment in 2 days and have been worried about how to approach this. We leave for our trip in 60 days so I know I will have to certainly expedite but don't want anything else to jeopardize the timing.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi MJClassy. You're fine. You won't be declined. You can apply using your maiden name just fine and change it later when you're ready.

      Reply
  4. Stef

    Hi there,

    I booked an international flight months ago before the marriage (in my maiden name). After the marriage, I was so excited that I rushed to the Social Security and DMV to change my last name without thinking about it. My passport still has my maiden name and I'm worried about changing the flight as it was booked on awards points through booking partners. Will I encounter any difficulty at customs entering/exiting OR be prevented from leaving the US because of this? I will have my marriage license and old/new identification, but I don't know if the SSA and TSA/airlines are linked and if my passport somehow became invalid. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Stef. Your should be fine, as your passport name matches what's on your ticket. You can always contact the airline for confirmation, but I don't see what potential problem you could be facing.

      Reply
  5. Zee

    Hello,

    My passport which has my maiden name is set to expire in a few months. I have legally changed my last name to my married name. Any international trips we go on I always book it under my maiden name and I would like to keep it that way. Can I renew my passport with my maiden name and continue booking tickets with my maiden name?

    Reply
  6. Mariko

    Hi there!
    I booked domestic travel under my maiden name. I have changed my name with SSA and with the DMV, but not with the Passport Authority. Can I travel domestically using my passport, which still has my maiden name, or will there be an issue when they scan my passport at the TSA Security checkpoint?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Mariko. While it's important that your ID match the name on your domestic ticket, it isn't likely to prevent you getting from point A to point B. As long as you bring your driver's license, passport, and certified copy of your marriage certificate, you should be fine. They're trying to cross-reference passengers against the no-fly list (which is very small), and the collection of documents you provide should sufficiently bridge your identity documents, which proves you are who you say you are.

      If you're concerned about any potential delay, you could contact the airline to determine if your name needs to be amended and tickets reissued.

      Reply
  7. Natascha Stevenson

    I have booked flight with Kenya airline under my married name, my Dutch passport had my maiden name ( this is how Dutch passports are issued ) but includes my married name, travel agency are now saying there might be issue and have to buy new ticket? Am so frustrated and stressed as am not changing my name, both names are included on my passport, what can I do ?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Natascha. At best you can keep a copy of your marriage certificate with you to verify you identity. But that may not be sufficient. General rule of thumb is that the airline ticket must match the name on the passport.

      Instead of buying a new ticket, try contacting the airline directly to determine if the name mismatch will make flying problematic. If so, is there additional identity documentation you can provide that would be sufficient? If a name mismatch is unacceptable, ask if they can reissue your ticket.

      Reply
  8. Whitney

    Hi!
    I got married last month and I chose to hyphenate my name (maiden-spouse). Do I have to update my passport? Can I just leave it with my maiden name? If I have to update it, how long can I wait to update it? I have already updated my SS and DL. Thanks.

    Reply
  9. Fronie

    I will be flying internationally next month and it was my husband who booked my ticket and he forgot that I still have my maiden name on my passport and booked the ticket with my married name on it. So my passport and my ticket does not match. What should I do?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      So my passport and my ticket does not match. What should I do?

      You can contact the airline to get your ticket reissued in the proper name.

      Reply
  10. Luke

    Similar, but not identical situation to many here: My wife has changed her name on her Social Security card, but did not get a new passport with her new, married name. We are traveling internationally in a few weeks and need to renew her passport (it expires within six months of our travel). Can she renew her passport using her maiden name even though the Social Security card has her married name? Is there a cross reference that happens in the renewal process that might cause our application to be denied?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Luke. While she can continue using her maiden name passport until it's time to renew, it should be renewed in her legal name. The renewal form itself will ask if the name has changed since the passport was last issued.

      Reply
  11. Georgia Rebapis - Nehring

    I recently booked my airline ticket with an online web site. I was too excited adn did the airline ticket with my current married name. However my passport is in my Greek name and not what's on my license. I have put in a request with the place i booked my flight to send the info to the airline to see if they can make an exception. What an I do if they come back and say that the airline is refusing to change the name? My greek last name on my passport is Rempapi but my ticket says Rebapis-Nehring. Any suggesions

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Georgia. You may have to contact the airline directly to get it reissued. Name mismatches on tickets are a problem. Whether or not you'll be able to board after verifications are performed is not assured.

      Reply
  12. Angeli

    I need to renew my passport but it is currently in my maiden name. I go married a few years ago and never changed my name on my passport. Now I'm getting a divorce and would like to renew my passport with my maiden name. Can I renew my passport with my maiden name?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Angeli. Yes, you can renew your passport it in your maiden name.

      Reply
  13. S

    This is not actually related to getting name changes due to marriage.

    I changed my first and middle names, but have same last name. Changed name on social security card, DL and all other things.

    My passport is expiring next year and still has old name

    I purchased international flight ticket with old name that matches passport.

    My main question is when custom scans my passport, would they know my name has changed, but not on passport?

    I guess as long as passport and airline ticket have my old name and match, it wil be okay right?

    Reply
    1. Valera

      My main question is when custom scans my passport, would they know my name has changed, but not on passport?

      No, that's unlikely.

      I guess as long as passport and airline ticket have my old name and match, it wil be okay right?

      That's correct.

      Reply
  14. Yessi

    Hi, I recently bought an airline ticket and used my maiden name. I just went to get my passport and it has my married name on it which is my last name hyphenated with my husbands last name. I called the airline and one representative said it's fine and another(I called just to make sure) said definitely not and they don't do name changes :(
    My question is can I still travel if I bring my marriage license and my new DL and my old with my maiden name
    Also the card I used to purchase my tickets is in my maiden name

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Yessi. It's possible you'll be able to travel, but not assured. You would want to bring a certified copy of your marriage record. You can read more about this on the Fly Rights U.S. Transportation website that also touches on this. Do a keyword search for "marriage" to find the most pertinent part of the page.

      Reply
  15. Maggie

    I got married back in August 2016, I plan on changing my name in the next couple weeks but am traveling out of the country in September 2017 with a ticket in my new married name. My passport in my maiden name doesn't expire till 2023. Can I just bring a copy of my marriage license? I am keeping my maiden name as my middle name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Maggie. In these situations, you may be able to fly, but you're taking a risk. Your safest best is to either get your airline ticket changed to match your passport, or update your passport to match your ticket/new name. You can still renew your passport now even though it doesn't expire until 2023.

      Reply
  16. Michael Melendrez

    Hello Maggie. My wife recently changed her last name with the SSA only. We are traveling abroad unexpectedly and don't have time to change her passport information with her new married name. In your experience, would we be ok if her state DL, passport, and purchased tickets are all in her maiden name? We plan on packing our marriage license just in case. Thanks!

    Reply
      1. Michael Melendrez

        Great thanks for the reply and for the excellent information listed on your website! Sorry, for mistakenly referring to you as Maggie, oversight on my part ;^)

        Reply
  17. John Vorwald

    I booked an awards flight to London through Delta Skymiles on Virgin Atlantic and the booking agent issued tickets in my name and my wife's married name. I now realize that my wife's Dutch passport has her maiden name listed but it also lists the married name as wife of…. My wife also has a green card with her married name. Will that be sufficient for international travel?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  18. Hannah

    Hello!

    I've read through all the comments, but I just want to be sure. I'm overly worried about it! My passport is in my maiden name, and doesn't expire for years. My drivers license and social security are all in my new name. We are going on our honeymoon in Europe next month. As long as I book my plane ticket as my maiden name to match my passport, we will be okay, correct?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Valera

      As long as I book my plane ticket as my maiden name to match my passport, we will be okay, correct?

      Correct.

      Reply
  19. linda

    I have my married name on pass port and also my maiden name. my ticket is in my maiden name can i still travel

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Linda. That could be problem. If possible, try to get your ticket reissued.

      Reply
  20. Debby

    My passport is in my maiden name while my greencard is in ny marries name. We are going on vacation outside the country ,and my ticket is booked in my maiden name to match my passport. My question is , will i have an issue coming back into the US with my passport in my maiden name and green card in my married name.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Debby. No, it shouldn't be a problem. You can keep a certified copy of your marriage record with you to bridge the names.

      Reply
  21. Syrina Jones - Astles

    This may have already been asked a dozen times, but here goes.

    I am Canadian, I married a US citizen though the K1 Visa in good faith. We were happy for about 2 years then went down hill from there. We are at the point where we needed to do the "Removal of Conditions" and if i do not fill in the forms and pay the fees i will be deported. My husband decided he did not want to pay the fees because he wants to separate, not because of the fees or the hassle. That was just a deciding factor in the matter. We were having loads of problems before that. Anyhoo, long story short, lol. I am now going back to Canada. My passport has my maiden name on it as well as the US visa passport. My husband bought the tickets using my married name. So on my Canadian Passport i have my maiden name and on the ticket information i have my married name. Now people are saying i should just bring all the documents with me like our marriage certificate and license. Do you think i am going to have any issues? Any advice?

    Thank you in advance.

    PS i cannot do a name change on my Canadian passport as i just found our yesterday I am going back to Canada because of a failed marriage. I am leaving to go back within a week. So i would have no time.

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Syrina. You should be OK as long as you can provide sufficient supporting documents.

      Reply
  22. Samantha Moran

    Hi I have a problem..
    My passport is in my old married last name. My tickets to Mexico are in my maiden and legal name. If i brought my divorce decree would that be proof? I only have 2 weeks till trip and never thought it would be an issue. Thank you

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Samantha. You should be okay with the divorce decree, assuming it documents the restoration of your maiden name.

      Reply
  23. Maida

    Hi,
    Probably this question is asked multiple times, but here it goes. We bought tickets for Europe with my married name, and I have passport with my maiden name. Will it be ok just to bring green card and marriage certificate with me?
    Thank you,

    Reply
    1. Valera

      Hi Maida. Having the name on your passport and airline tickets mismatching may cause problems, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's insurmountable. If you can provide supporting documentation, as you've cited, to explain the name discrepancy, you should be fine.

      This is, obviously, especially common in marriage situations. Still, it wouldn't hurt for you to contact the airline to determine if you can get your tickets replaced.

      Reply

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *