Who the hell am I?
October 22, 2010 4:23 PM   Subscribe

My married name was "Jane Whatever Doe". I got divorced a while back and my legal (according to Social Security) name is "Jane Whatever Smith." Everyone in the art world knows me by my married name of "Jane Doe," so my driver's license says "Jane Whatever Smith-Doe." Are you confused yet? More within...

I kept it that way on my driver's license so that I wouldn't have problems with checks written to either "Jane Doe" or "Jane Smith" or "Jane Smith-Doe". Also, there are so many places where my name is one or the other and I can't remember which one I may have been using at the time. All of my credit cards are hyphenated...

In other words, my name is a complicated mess.

I have two questions:
1. How should I handle this name issue in regards to acquiring a passport? Although my driver's license says "Smith-Doe," my name is legally just "Smith," right? Does my passport have to match my DL?

2. If your answer is that I should change ALL identifying materials to "Smith," can you help me form a list of places I should call to change my name back to Smith (i.e. my employer, credit cards, etc.)?
posted by madred to Law & Government (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Ugh. I have a hyphenated name, and it took awhile for the hyphen to permeate. It's a pain, innit?

You can actually just change your SS card. http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/315/~/changing-your-name-on-your-social-security-card

Both your divorce decree and your DL would be adequate proof that you are you, and that you need to change your name.
posted by amberwb at 4:40 PM on October 22, 2010

(BTW, I didn't get around to doing this until a year or two after my marriage, and the SS department didn't care, so it doesn't matter that time has passed.)
posted by amberwb at 4:41 PM on October 22, 2010

What's most important is that your TICKETS match your passport name, exactly. And sometimes airlines are pissy about your ticket name matching the name on the credit card, exactly. No one who looks at your passport really cares, except as it regards matching your airline tickets.
posted by cyndigo at 4:48 PM on October 22, 2010

I did Social Security first and it seemed to be the right choice. Next, do your driver's license (and the title of any vehicles you own - I forgot about that one). If your state is like Georgia, changing the title of your car will automatically trigger the auto insurance to change. Banks and credit cards next.

In this era of electronic records, you might as well make your passport match your drivers' license. Your application will be cross-referenced to your Social Security number and the name therein, but I've found it to be a hassle to have ID in different names.

I felt a lot better after getting it all done, although it took me a couple of years to catch everything.
posted by catlet at 4:50 PM on October 22, 2010

Does my passport have to match my DL?

No. The role of the DL is as "present identification" to "establish your identity to the satisfaction of the acceptance agent" -- i.e. that you're not using someone else's birth certificate and SSN -- and if you're worried about that, you can providing secondary documentation to show the various incarnations of your last name.

As cyndigo says, you basically need to make sure that international flight tickets are issued to your "passport name", as mismatches can cause hassles at check-in and security. Having a credit card to book them using that name will also help. The leaked TSA guidelines said that there has to be a "substantial match" between ID and ticket, so you should be okay, but better safe than sorry: people who go by shortened or colloquial first names get tripped up quite a bit.
posted by holgate at 4:57 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

My passport matches my social security card, and, like you, I have a hyphenated driver's license and a mish-mash of names on everything else. I've never had a problem with any of it. EXCEPT that it turns out that the IRS cares that the name on my mortgage, and the name on my w-2, and the name on my SS card are the same.
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:06 PM on October 22, 2010

Hi! I was just trained by the local state department passport agency as a passport acceptance agent. We were quizzed pretty heavily on names, and it's often a complicated mess, but what it all boils down to is that you can document your name from your proof of citizenship (birth certificate or previous passport) through your photo ID (often drivers license) and finally to the name you put on the application.

So, the ideal way to go about this regarding your passport is to take the name you put on the application, and the name on your birth certificate, and then line up all the official documentation you have that gets you from one through to the other. Provide any marriage or divorce certificates (NOT COPIES), name change certificates, and/or 3 pieces of evidence proving you've been using whatever name is on the application exclusively for the past 5 years. Two (2) separate DS-60's can be used as a substitute for one (1) piece of evidence. (The DS-60 is a witness statement from someone who's known you since before you were known as the name you're putting on the application. I.... I think they need to be notarized.) The 3 pieces of evidence should only be used if the name you 'go by' now is not officially your official name.

Here's some stuff from my training materials and notes:
Name Quiz
Name on application: Mary Jones-Price
Name on ID: Mary E. Jones
Name on birth certificate: Mary Elizabeth Jones
Q: Does Mary need to submit additional documentation?
A: YES. Mary would need to submit documentation for 'Price', whether it's a marriage cert or whatever.

"If a married, divorced, or widowed customer uses his/her previous surname exclusively, he/she must submit acceptable identification in the surname and one of the following documents:
- Acceptable ID in the surname AND
- Legal documentation that entitles him/her to use that name OR
- Evidence that he/she has used the name exclusively for at least 5 years
Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other specific questions, and make sure you read travel.state.gov thoroughly. The National Passport Information Center's phone number is 1-877-487-2778.
posted by carsonb at 5:35 PM on October 22, 2010 [7 favorites]

My married name was "Jane Whatever Doe". I got divorced a while back and my legal (according to Social Security) name is "Jane Whatever Smith." Everyone in the art world knows me by my married name of "Jane Doe," so my driver's license says "Jane Whatever Smith-Doe." Are you confused yet?

Nope! Let's see if I can parse out what you'll need to bring to the passport acceptance agent's desk. This breakdown assumes that the name you want on your passport is "Jane Whatever Smith-Doe".

1. Your Birth Certificate. This says "Jane Whatever Smith" on it.
2. Your drivers license. This says "Jane Whatever Smith-Doe" on it.
3. Your marriage certificate. This connects "Jane Whatever Smith" to "Jane Whatever Doe"
4. Your divorce papers. These also help connect your given name to your current name.
5. 3 pieces of evidence that support the fact that you've used "Jane Whatever Smith-Doe" as your name for the past 5 years. These can be canceled checks made out to you, bills, other governmental IDs, bank statements, tax receipts—pretty much anything that proves you've been using the name you want on your passport. Like I said above, you can sub 2 DS-60s for 1 piece of evidence, so if you have two friends/relatives who knew you before you used your current name and who are willing to attest to your current name, you can have them complete and notarize a form each and use those as 1 piece of evidence. It helps a lot that your DL already has "Jane Whatever Smith-Doe" on it.
posted by carsonb at 6:02 PM on October 22, 2010

Thanks all. What a nightmare. I'm never changing my name again!
posted by madred at 2:24 PM on October 27, 2010

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