Is Your Passport Still Valid Even If It Has Your Maiden Name On It?

Getting married is an exciting time in one's life. For folks who decide to change their last name though, there are a lot of considerations and changes to make. You have to update all kinds of documents like your social security card, driver's license, credit cards, and, of course, your passport. Doing all of that takes time. So what if you're headed out of the country shortly after changing your name — can you still use your old passport? The answer is a little complicated. 


At some point after a name change, you will need to get a whole new passport from the State Department. But that takes time. As of this writing, the standard processing for passports is six to eight weeks, expedited is two to three weeks, and urgently needed within two weeks requires an appointment. Especially for out-of-country honeymooners departing right after a wedding, there's a good chance you won't get your passport in time. And don't forget to check if you need a passport when traveling by cruise, because you may not be exempt.

There is some good news though. If you received your passport within the last year and also changed your name within that time frame, the State Department doesn't charge you any additional passport fees when you get a new one. Unless you pay for expediting, that is. However, when you do get your new passport though you should hang on to your old one because you shouldn't get rid of old passports


The ticket has to match the name

You can absolutely travel with your old passport that still has your maiden name in it. The thing that matters most is that your flight itinerary name matches your passport. That means you need to book your flights under the maiden name unless you want to bring additional identifying documents along. Your name on the passport and the flight have to match exactly, so be sure to include middle names if needed as well. It can be a hassle to change a name on a flight reservation once it's booked — even if you just left out a middle name. 


If you already booked the flight under your married name, don't panic. You can still use the passport with your maiden name. However, you will need to bring some things along to demonstrate the legality of the name change. Those documents include marriage certificates, divorce decrees, or court documents identifying a name change. It's a good idea to get multiple official, certified copies of your marriage certificate for situations like this. That way you don't accidentally lose the one copy if you need to bring it along on your travels. 

Don't forget to update your TSA PreCheck

While you can't use your TSA PreCheck outside of the United States, it is also important to update your name in this program as well. Just like with your passport, your name on the flight booking must match the name in your TSA PreCheck. So, just as with booking, be sure that, if you are using your maiden name, it is consistent with what TSA has or you'll have issues at the airport. 


According to the Transportation Security Administration, not updating your name will nullify your ability to use your PreCheck at the airport. "If you change your name and do not update your TSA PreCheck membership to match the new details, you will not be able to use your TSA PreCheck benefits when traveling until the name change process is completed," according to the website

In order to update your name, you'll need to call the PreCheck helpline at 855-347-8371. If you don't have PreCheck yet, consider whether PreCheck or Global Entry is a better option for you as a traveler.