Travel Tip: Changing Your Name On Important Documents

Posted by Grace Haag on

Travel Tip Tuesday: Changing Your Name after getting married

If you are anything like LOVE to travel and explore new places.  As much as there is to see here in the good 'ole USA, there's even more to see in the world. So we venture to other countries to experience other cultures and add to our list of life's adventures.

There are a few things you need to change before traveling out of the country after you get married...If you are changing your name. can just ignore this whole post and celebrate with a really awesome pair of red rose leggings to wear on the flight.


Step 1: Social Security Card: Before you can change anything else you need an ID showing your name legally changed. To get the ID- You have to legally change your name with the Social Security Administration. Their website actually has pretty good info on what documents you'll need and how to do this. You can find links for forms and office locations on the link I provided.  Tip: Be prepared to wait in a long line and make sure you have ALL of your required documents ready to go when its your turn.

Step 2: Driver's License: You don't actually need your new card (in most states) to get your new DMV ID. You just have to wait at least 24 hours for your name change to show up in the DMV's system. I ended up waiting for my SSN Card to come in the mail 2 weeks later before getting my ID. Tip: Be sure to check with your DMV about accept forms of's no fun waiting for your turn and being told they don't take debit cards.

Step 3: Passport: This one takes around 6 weeks to change. BUT you want to do it within the first year of your marriage to avoid the standard renewal fee. You will have to send them your current passport and the original or certified copy of your marriage license. You may want to order a certified copy anyways to have an extra and so you can change everything else while the Passport processes.  I waited and its kinda nerve wracking (more on that later) Visit for the fees and locations.

Step 4: Employer & Insurance:  You need to change your name with your employer so you can change your name on your insurance. Every employer is different- but you will have to show documents to show your legal name change.  Be sure to contact your HR department.

Step 5: Banks & Credit Cards: For some of my accounts this was as painless as calling and changing it over the phone. Others required faxing proof of my name change or visiting their local branch.  Just call your financial institution.

Step 6: Everything else: Change your most used accounts first. Then make a list of all of your other accounts like travel rewards, memberships etc.

If you are planning to travel outside of the US in the first 3 months of marriage- Wait to legally change your name until you return home. There's nothing more stressful than having to wait to get all of your documents in order!

Why is this all important? Because I didn't do all of that within the first year of getting married...and I ran into a few potential headaches.

Last year we went on a cruise- we booked it a month out and then realized I hadn't changed my name on my Passport....a year and a half after the wedding. We called the cruise line and they changed my name back to my maiden name but advised we bring the marriage certificate along with the passport and driver's license.

When your dog eats your marriage certificate.Flash forward to the week after we got home from exporing Mayan Ruins and snorkeling in Honduras.... All of these documents were on the kitchen table and our youngest dog-child decided his snack d'jour would be our marriage license.

You'd think I'd replace it immediate right? Wrong. I put the PRO in Procrastinate.  We have an amazing trip planned for the end of April to Italy. Everything is booked...but remember that Passport thing? Yep still have to change it.

Fortunately (fingers crossed) I'll have the new copies of the marriage license (I ordered 2....because...dogs & adhd) next week and still have time to for the Passport Renewal.

Don't be like me. Get it all done within the first year. And order that backup certified copy.

Do you have any tips for making this transition to a new name easier? Share them!

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