Everything You Need to Know About Traveling and a Name Change

Changing your last name post-"I do" may complicate your travel plans

Updated 10/05/19

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For those who are looking forward to changing their last name after marriage, it’s tempting to get started right away. After all, it’s a bit of a lengthy and often complicated process.

It’s easy to forget, though, that changing your last name can have immediate implications on your travel plans. To avoid any unwanted surprises at the gate or check-in, here’s what you need to know about changing your name and traveling.

For Timely Travel

If you’re heading off on your honeymoon in the immediate days or weeks following your wedding, book your travel in your maiden name. (Name changes don’t happen overnight; in fact, it’s quite the opposite.) It’s the easiest way to travel, and it will buy you some extra time to enjoy wedded bliss before standing in long lines at the Social Security office, DMV, bank—you get the idea.

For Future Travel

If you’re planning on taking a trip a few months or more after your wedding, then it is safe to book in your married name, provided you are proactive and timely in changing your name legally, then acquiring the necessary documents. Remember that your best bet is to have all your documents changed and set to go before you embark on your journeys, so ensure you will have ample time to make that happen.

If there’s any question, it might be best to play it safe and book in your maiden name, and wait until you return home to make your name changes. (It will also give you something special to look forward to!)

A general rule of thumb for international travel is that your passport is your primary source of identification. Many times, U.S. citizens forget this, as your driver’s license is often all you need for domestic travel. It’s imperative to remember that the name on your airline ticket must match your passport name. Sometimes, newlyweds change their license first and neglect to change their passport, so this is important to keep in mind.

Changing Your Documents

Your first stop in changing your name is to make it official via Social Security, then you’ll have to move forward with changing it everywhere else.

For many, this will begin with a driver’s license and passport, and then you can tackle your bank, credit cards, professional licenses, etc.

Be as prepared as possible and ensure you have proper forms of identification, your birth certificate, certified original copies of your marriage license, a check or money order to cover fees, and any necessary forms.

To change your name at Social Security, it will have to be done in person. More information on the requirements and procedure are available online.

For U.S. citizens and passport holders, details on the easy-enough process can be found here.

A good rule of thumb, if you have any questions or concerns regarding your name change, is to directly contact your airline or hotel to ask for its specific policies and procedures. Also, it can’t hurt to keep a copy of your marriage license handy while adjusting to all the formal changes.

A little bit of information, preparation, and some peace of mind can go a long way.

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