A passport is undoubtedly among the most important documents. Not only does it allow you to travel internationally, but on top of that—the document certifies your citizenship and can be used as your proof of identity. Bearing that in mind, it only makes sense to keep your passport up to date with even the tiniest modifications, not to mention a complete last name change.
But is it, in fact, necessary to get a new passport if you got married? Or is your current passport valid under your maiden name? See what the official standards are in this matter by reading this article.
Using a passport with a maiden name after marriage
In some circumstances, your passport becomes invalid if any changes occur. This is true for both external damage or any other significant alterations in its appearance. However, there is a sort of an extra category reserved for a name change, and especially for using a passport with a maiden name after marriage.
When you get married, in most scenarios your last name changes to your husband’s, or it becomes a composition of both your maiden name and your spouse’s name—which technically makes for a new last name.
However, this does not automatically make your maiden name no longer legitimate. Your original family name remains with you regardless of your marital status unless a court decides otherwise, but that’s a different story.
So, in a pretty usual scenario, when two people get married, the new bride can still ID herself using her maiden name, therefore making the passport valid. Although it is recommended by authorities to apply for a passport renewal with your new name, it is not a necessity, and you can continue using your old passport until it expires.
Traveling with maiden name on a passport
We already know that your old passport doesn’t automatically lose its validity after your marriage name change. But what if you want to travel with it, and, for example, your driver’s license shows your new name?
In most cases, you shouldn’t encounter any difficulties when traveling with a passport in your maiden name. After all, the officers have no insight into what your marital status is, nor is it illegal to have a passport in the pre-marriage name. Therefore, in most circumstances (especially when traveling by land or sea), you should be able to travel hassle-free.
However, if you plan to travel by plane (especially if it’s international travel), there is one more thing you need to keep in mind. According to the TSA regulations, your travel document must be in the same name as your airline ticket.
Therefore, if you want to board a plane and haven’t updated your current passport, make sure to book the ticket in your maiden name in order to avoid being denied boarding. These are the specific regulations that were introduced by the TSA as an aftermath of the September 11th events.
However, according to the official guidelines of the US government, once you undergo a name change regardless of your situation, whether it’s getting married, divorced, or as the result of a court ruling—you can identify yourself with the previous passport only if you are able to present a document proving the progression of your name change.
Such a document could be an original or certified copy of your marriage certificate. Therefore, for extra caution, it is recommended to have this document with you if you plan on using a passport that bears your maiden name.
Returning to the passport with maiden name after divorce
There is one more scenario that might prove itself difficult in terms of legitimacy. What if I got divorced and wanted to revert to my maiden name? Can I switch back to my old passport?
The answer is: it depends.
If during your marriage you had your passport renewed in the new last name, then you cannot go back to the old one. This is due to the fact that once you renew your passport, it has an indication as to which document it’s replacing—making your previous passport invalid. If you wish to have a passport in your maiden name again, you need to apply for a new one upon showing a divorce decree.
On the other hand, if you went through the marriage without updating your passport, and it hasn’t expired yet—you can still use it. The document is still considered a valid passport. For more detailed information on how to change your name after a divorce see our handy name change after divorce checklist.
If you’re interested in passports, you can also check out:
- Can I Travel if the Names on My Passport and Green Card Don’t Match?
- Should I Sign My Passport with My Middle Name?
- Do You Need to Change a Passport After Marriage?
- How to Change Name on Passport After Marriage?
- Can You Travel With a Damaged Passport? [Ultimate Guide]
- Do You Need a Passport to Go to Canada? [Ultimate Guide]
- Type P Passport—What Is It and How Do I Get One?
A speedy way to update your passport picture
There are many reasons to update your passport, and getting married is among them. And for that, you will also need a proper passport photo.
With many time-consuming and pricey solutions around, such as a passport photo studio, you might want to consider taking a quicker and less expensive path—an online passport photo generator: Passport Photo Online
Passport Photo Online is a tool that allows you to transform your smartphone pictures into legitimate passport photos which are in accordance with the official US regulations. A tool that has been used and appreciated by millions of users worldwide.
In order to use the app, you simply need to upload your picture to the app or website. Passport Photo Online will then automatically adjust your image so that it meets the passport photo requirements of the US Department of State. The process takes literally just 3 seconds, and all of this can be done from the comfort of your own house. In case of doubts, take a look at how to take a passport picture yourself.
Try Passport Photo Online yourself with no charge at all, and pay only once you are satisfied with the result. All passport photos go through a verification process—first by an AI system and then a human expert, to ensure compliance with the official US passport photo rules.
In the section below we will address some of the most commonly asked questions regarding using a passport with a maiden name after marriage.
What is a maiden name?
A maiden name is the last name used by a married woman prior to legally changing it to her husband’s name upon marriage.
Can I change my name without changing my passport?
Yes, you can change your name and are not obligated to change your passport right away. However, when you travel using your maiden name passport, remember that all the other travel itineraries must be in the maiden name as well.
How to update married name on a passport?
To update your passport with your new married name, you need to apply for a passport renewal (if eligible) or a new passport. You will have to document your name change with a court document.
What happens to your passport when you get married?
Your passport remains valid when you get married and you can continue using it as an identification document until it expires.
Can I use my marriage certificate with my passport?
If you want to continue using your passport with your maiden name on it for identification purposes, you should always carry with you the legal document that proves your name change – it can be your marriage certificate. If you plan to fly using your passport with the old name on it though, all the travel itineraries and bookings must also be in the old name.
Can I cross the border with my maiden name on my passport even if I’m married?
Traveling with a passport in your maiden name once you take your spouse’s name is possible. However, when purchasing tickets, it is important to ensure that the passport name and the passenger name are the same.
Can you use a passport with a maiden name?
You can use a passport with your maiden name when traveling. However, keep in mind that if you purchase travel tickets, both your passport and your plane ticket should bear the same name, whether it be your pre-marriage name or your marriage name.
Can you keep your maiden name on your passport?
You can remain with your previous passport, which has your maiden name on it. However, if you decide to renew your passport, it will be issued with your current legal name.
Will a passport work with a maiden name?
Yes, as long as you do not ID yourself with an expired passport, it does not lose its validity due to a name change. Therefore, if the document hasn’t exceeded the expiry date, it remains legal.
Can you keep your maiden name on your passport?
You can remain with your previous passport which has your maiden name on it. However, if you decide to renew your passport, it will be issued with your current legal name.
How long do you have to change your name on your passport after getting married?
There is no legal obligation for you to change your name on your passport after getting married. That means you can use your current passport (with your maiden name) until it expires. However, if you decide to remain with your current passport, make sure to book airline tickets in your maiden name as well (names on the ticket and the passport have to match).
Can you fly with a maiden name on your passport?
Yes, you can fly with your maiden name on your passport. However, when making the booking, make sure to use your maiden name as well—your name on the ticket and on the passport have to be the same.
Can I have my maiden name on my passport and married name on the ticket?
No, your name on the ticket and passport have to be the same. Therefore, if you have not updated your passport after marriage, you should make any reservations that require a passport verification (e.g. airline tickets) in your maiden name.
Can I go on a honeymoon with a passport in my maiden name?
Yes, you can go on a honeymoon with a passport in your maiden name. There is no legal obligation to update your passport right away, and you can keep on using your current passport until it expires. However, upon making any reservations, such as airline tickets, make sure to use your maiden name as well, so your booking name matches your passport name.
Passport with maiden name–better safe than sorry
Although there is no official obligation to apply for a passport name change once you get married, it is, nevertheless, a strong recommendation from the officials.
You may need to present a document stating the progression of your name change—such as a certified copy of your marriage certificate—every time you want to ID yourself with the old passport. Therefore, even if just for peace of mind, it is worth visiting a passport agency to renew your document, so it reflects your current legal name. Especially now that your new passport photo is just a few clicks away.
Adam is an SEO & Digital PR writer with a child’s curiosity about the surrounding world. His superpower to dig out juicy facts got him citations in Forbes, Social Media Today, and 90+ other news outlets. Adam enjoys snapping pictures and won the national Huawei Next Image Award.