The ultimate guide to updating travel documents after a name change

Dec 30, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

While more and more people are choosing to keep their surname after marriage, many still take their partner’s name after the ceremony. Another popular option is to create a hyphenated last name, but doing so doesn’t make the process of legally changing your name any less complicated.

Changing your name can be viewed as the standard, and perhaps even romantic, but there’s no getting over the fact that it’s a laborious undertaking. If you’re changing your name — whatever the reason — follow this guide to make sure you’re ready to enter this paperwork gauntlet.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Image by LPETTET / Getty Images
Image by LPETTET / Getty Images

Step 1: Be Mindful of Time Constraints

This is a time-consuming process. Some changes will have to be made in person, such as getting your new driver’s license. Other offices may allow you to mail in your name change request, but then you’ll be faced with mail delays. If you’re heading out on a honeymoon directly after your wedding, you should book your travel under your maiden name and change your name once you’re home. You likely won’t have enough time to obtain new IDs that reflect your married name. TSA does not accept marriage certificates as a form of ID. You also will likely use credit cards while traveling and want those to reflect the same name you have on your ID.

Image by Tetra Images / Getty Images.
Image by Tetra Images / Getty Images.

Step 2: Get Certified Copies

To get started, you’re going to need to prove that you have a legal name change. After marriage, for example, this means providing copies of your marriage certificate. And you can’t just make copies of your certificate: the copies need to be certified. You can get these through the vital statistics or records department of the state where your marriage took place. Expect to pay approximately $15 to $30 each, and definitely order more than one copy.

Step 3: Get a New Social Security Card

Updating your Social Security card should be one of the first things you do when you change your name. Your Social Security Administration (SSA) card and number will often be necessary to get a new driver’s license, which will be required for many of the other steps in the process. Changing your name with the SSA will also notify the IRS and help make sure your name and Social Security number match. If you don’t want to mail in your ID and marriage certificate, you’ll want to find your local SSA office and file the form in person.

Related: The ultimate guide to credit card application restrictions 

Step 4: Get a New Driver’s License

Now that you have your new Social Security card with your new name, you’re ready to head to the DMV. Check online with your state’s Department of Licensing to find out what documents you’ll need to bring with you to get a new ID with your married name. Most likely, you’ll need to bring your current driver’s license, your certified marriage certificate and your new Social Security card. You’ll also want to ask if your voter registration will be changed along with your driver’s license. If not, add the voter registration name change to your list of things to do.

update your passport with your new name after you
Image by Greg Blomberg / EyeEm / Getty Images

Step 5: Update Your Passport

To update your passport you’ll need to determine what form you need to submit and if you’re able to submit the form via mail. If you got your passport less than a year ago, for example, you’ll have a different process than if it’s more than a year old. If your passport was issued more than one year ago, you’ll follow the passport renewal process. No matter what, you’ll probably need to include a certified copy of your marriage certificate. New passports typically take four to six weeks to process, though there are ways to expedite if necessary.

Step 6: Change Name With TSA PreCheck or Global Entry

To change your name for TSA PreCheck, you can call 855-347-8371 on weekdays, between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET. To change your name for Global Entry, however, you’re going to need to visit one of their enrollment centers. Thankfully, you shouldn’t need to obtain an appointment slot, but reach out to your local center to verify that you can drop in for the name update. Don’t forget to bring in your new passport and your marriage certificate, just in case.

Your credit card may save you from bag fees. (image courtesy of Shutterstock)
(Image via Shutterstock)

Step 7: Change Your Financial Records

With your new driver’s license and Social Security number, you should be ready to update your financial records. Start by visiting your local bank branch, and don’t forget to bring your new ID and marriage certificate.

Most credit cards will need you to fax or mail a digital copy of your new ID showing your changed name, but each will have its own method and forms. Chase, for example, requires account holders to send in a form with a copy of their marriage certificate. American Express may accepted your new U.S. passport or driver’s license. Check with your issuer directly to determine what forms and evidence will be required. You can also call your credit card’s customer service number or use their website chat.

Once you’ve updated your name on your credit cards, your new name will eventually be updated on your credit report. You don’t need to contact the credit reporting companies directly, but keep in mind you might want to hold off on applying for new credit cards until you see your new name reflected on your credit report. Your credit report is also a great resource for locating all the financial institutions where you have accounts.

Step 8: Update Your Rewards Accounts

After updating your personal documents, it’s time to address your loyalty program and rewards accounts. Just like with your banking institutions, you’ll need to contact each program to find out what is required for the name change. Most of the programs, including Hyatt and Marriott, will require you to fax or mail your legal documents to a specific address. Delta and United, similarly, will request a copy of your marriage certificate or another legal document. (If you have existing reservations made prior to your name change, most U.S. airlines will accommodate a legal name change without charging a fee.)

If you’re enrolled in a number of programs, signing up for an e-fax service might be helpful. You and your spouse might also want to consider changing your points-earning strategy.

Step 9: Get Extra Help

If all this overwhelms you (we get it, really) there are services available to help speed the process along. The popular service, HitchSwitch, will let you submit basic information online to autofill all the forms you’ll need to change your name. Along with the auto-filled forms, they’ll provide instructions for completion and how to submit each application. For any steps that have to be submitted via mail, they even include the address to which the application needs to be sent.

Feature image by JovanaT / Getty Images.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • No delivery fees for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with a DashPass subscription from DoorDash -over a $100 value. Activate with your Chase Sapphire card by December 31, 2021.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.49% - 24.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.