What To Do When Your Name Changes

Name changes tend to be a part of major life events. Marriages, divorces, and gender transitions are just a few reasons someone might have for needing to change their name. It’s not as easy as filling out a form, though.

Name changes are an in-depth process that require the updating of multiple legal and financial documents. You’ll also need to update immigration documents like your passport, especially if you’re planning to travel internationally. Let’s take a look at the process of changing your name.

Changing Your Name on Your Passport

Your passport always needs to reflect your current legal name. If it doesn’t and you head out for an international excursion, you’ll quickly find out that your trip is going to be cut short.

Because updating your passport is a correction, all required documents can be submitted by mail. If you have a valid passport that was issued less than 12 months ago, you’ll need to use Form DS-5504. 

If your valid passport was issued more than 12 months ago you’ll use Form DS-82.

If your passport has been expired for less than 5 years or you’d like to apply for your first passport, you’ll need to complete Form DS-11.

You’ll need to mail in the form along with the required documentation, a color photograph of yourself, and the applicable fees.

Your updated passport will arrive in 6-8 weeks, so make sure you apply well in advance of any planned trips. If you need your passport update to be processed faster, you can pay a $60 expedition fee and you’ll receive your passport in 2-3 weeks. If you need your passport quickly, CIBTvisas can expedite service so you can receive your passport in as little as 24 hours.

Along with your updated passport you’ll also receive your old passport back with a hole punched through the center canceling it, along with the documentation you submitted.

How To Change Your Name

How to change your name in the U.S. differs from state to state, but these six steps will give you a great starting point:

1. Obtain And Complete Required Forms: This could include an application, a petition for name change, and other legal documents to request the change. You can also expect to pay a name change fee.

2. Undergo Background Checks: Depending on the state you live in and the reason for your name change, you may have to complete an FBI background check and have your fingerprints taken. There is a fee for both of these as well.

3. Publish A Public Notice: Some states will require you to publish a public notice about your name change. This means publishing your name change in a local newspaper. Sometimes this requirement can be waived, but that decision is up to the discretion of the court.

4. Attend A Name Change Hearing: You may be required to have a hearing with a judge once the public notice has been published. The judge will consider your petition and any objections before ruling on your request. If the court approves the change, you’ll need to obtain a copy of the court order so that you can use it to begin changing your name on official documents.

5. Update Your Official Documents: After obtaining a court order granting a name change, you’ll need to update important identification records, including your driver's license or other state-issued identification, birth certificate, Social Security card, and, of course, your passport. If you got married or divorced and your name changed, there is no need to update your birth certificate. Make sure you also update your name on credit cards, financial records, utility bills, and so on.

6. Retain Proof Of Your Old Name: It's important to retain proof of your former name and to ensure that your financial and other records are correct after the change.

Need To Change Your Name On Your Passport?

If you’ve recently undergone a name change, or are planning to change your name in the near future, then you don’t want to forget to change your name on your passport, unless you want a rude awakening when you travel internationally. That’s where CIBTvisas can help. For over 50 years, we’ve been helping travelers navigate the passport and visa acquisition process, to get to where they need to go. 

Contact us today to talk to one of our experienced immigration specialists who can start the process of updating your passport with your new name.

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