Can my wife travel with a passport under her maiden name?
June 22, 2009 4:04 PM   Subscribe

Passport Question: My wife and I were married in May. All of her documents now reflect her name change, with the exception of her passport, which still bears her maiden name. Will we experience any difficulties at customs while traveling abroad in July? Will it be sufficient to come armed with our marriage certificate to prove she is who she claims to be? Thanks!
posted by jackypaper to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by AloneOssifer at 4:07 PM on June 22, 2009

The problem you'll have is if the tickets are in a different name than the passport, same as visa's.

A new passport is generally just about 3-4 days away with a hundred or so bucks...
posted by iamabot at 4:07 PM on June 22, 2009

How long is it until her passport has to be renewed? If it's awhile, do you really want to go through this every time you travel? July is still a couple of weeks away - just get a new passport.
posted by meerkatty at 4:17 PM on June 22, 2009

The World Hemisphere Travel Initiative has really tightened things up with customs. You are supposed to renew your passport when you change your name, so I don't know if it would still be considered a valid passport. I can't find anything that says coming with your old passport and a marriage license would be sufficient. Look here about renewing:

The WHTI is now in full effect (I am almost positive). Will they catch you if the ticket and her passport have the same name on them? I have no idea, but I think the chances are much higher now than they would have been in the past. Would I risk it? No. It can't hurt to call the State Department's Passport Office and ask if that would be enough, but otherwise I would put in a rush order to renew the passport.

Also, I wouldn't pay too much attention to the previous thread from 2006. That's pre WHTI coming into affect so anything there is likely obsolete. The final rules have also changed multiple times since then.
posted by whoaali at 4:41 PM on June 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

Why not just buy the ticket in the same name as the passport? There's no list of marital namechanges sent to the airlines or to customs, so there's no way of anyone at the airport or any immigration checkpoint knowing that your wife has now chosen a different surname.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:57 PM on June 22, 2009

In February I saw a couple trying to get on a plane for their honeymoon where the new bride had her maiden name on her passport. She was in tears because she was not allowed to get on the plane despite having the marriage certificate because the ticket and passport had different names. Does it happen in all cases, probably not, but I did witness the situation you described.

(related note: I think he ended up getting on the plane because they would lose some kind of deposit for wherever they were going. No, I wasn't eavesdropping, they got LOUD! :-)
posted by sandra_s at 5:02 PM on June 22, 2009

My wife's drivers license has her married name, her passport her maiden name. We've left the country seven time, booking travel under our passport names. Never had a problem with it, never been asked to show anything other than passports.

In fact, I had a conversation with a customs agent at Logan that went like this:

me: We filled out two declarations because our IDs have different last names on it and the flight attendant said we should, but we're married.

CA: I only need the one then.

me: So in the future, we only need one?

CA: We get all sorts of families in here. If you say you're a family, you're a family. Doesn't matter what your names are.

So, in short, when she travels, her name is the one on the passport and you'll be fine.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:19 PM on June 22, 2009

Make the plane reservation in the same name that is on the passport. Use the passport when asked for ID.

Alternately, if you've already made the plane reservation under the married name, either get an updated passport (which might be a little tight at this point), or start working it out now with the airline to get her reservation changed to her maiden name (I was able to do this at the airport on the day of travel, but it was a little stressful).
posted by sad_otter at 7:14 PM on June 22, 2009

If you expedite your passport processing, you might be able to get it back within the week, or early next week. They are blazing fast...ours took something like three business days a couple of months ago. I doubt the processing time has gotten any longer since then. I was very, very impressed that paying to expedite was actually worth it. If you have a reasonably convenient passport processing office, you can get next day service if you have a good reason and make an appointment. I get the sense that with the economy being as crummy as it is, not a lot of people are planning international travel and the people in these offices are working round the clock to justify their continued employment.

I don't know about you, but if she was let on the plane I know *I* would ruin the entire trip for myself worrying she'd be arrested or something trying to get back into the states. You need to either change the ticket or the passport...if I were you, I'd change the passport.
posted by crinklebat at 7:49 PM on June 22, 2009

I would recommend strongly that you get a new passport expedited. It really is fast, and the fear that you won't be able to get back into the country isn't a fun one.

Also, US Customs has tightened progressively over the last few years. It's hard to say what any particular customs agent will do, but my experience is that it's just best to count on Murphy's Law and prepare for the worst.

So: yeah, get that passport fixed.
posted by koeselitz at 8:20 PM on June 22, 2009

I don't think the passport control officers will be interested in your maritial status. But they will be interested in knowing that the name on the passport matches the name on the ticket. That's why airlines warn people about that. So, if you haven't already bought your tickets, use the name that is on the passport. The exact name.

The best idea, however, as others have suggested, is to simply gte a new passport. Pay the money for expedited processing and take away the paranoia.

BTW, everytime I've flown out of the U.S. in recent years, everyone checks the ticket name against the passport: Airline agents, passport control, etc.
posted by justcorbly at 8:28 AM on June 23, 2009

I have used my maiden name passport when the plane ticket has been in my married name many times. I've not had any problems as I always bring my marriage certificate. It's been probably a year or two since I've done this though because now I just always book tickets in my maiden name.
posted by triggerfinger at 12:14 PM on June 23, 2009

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