Can I use my old passport even though I've legally changed my name?
November 15, 2013 1:53 PM   Subscribe

I was married a few years ago and subsequently changed my name. My DL says my married name. We are preparing for international travel early next year, and I'm wondering if I need to pay the $110 to get a new passport or if we can just put my maiden name on the plane ticket. I'm a US citizen...

That's pretty much it. Will the airport people care, or are they just comparing plane ticket name and passport? What about overseas airports, at customs, etc? Would I explicitly be breaking any laws here?

posted by ancient star to Law & Government (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes! This happened to me. The ticket has to match the ID you are traveling with. I had changed backed to my maiden name (after a divorce), passport was in old married name. I had to pay $100 to AA at the check-in counter to change my ticket name to match my passport. Or not travel. Even tho' I had a DL in my maiden name.

So either get the ticket in the name on your PP or get your PP revised.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:00 PM on November 15, 2013

Regardless of legality, if even one of these entities cares enough to delay you for this (even if they're in the wrong), how much extra money will you spend on hotels/extra food/changing plane tickets/etc?

This is not a risk I'd be willing to take.
posted by markslack at 2:01 PM on November 15, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I am not sure if you would be breaking laws but I have flown internationally three times on a passport in my maiden name. I just booked the tickets to match.

One thing to remember is if you lose your passport and have to pull out alternative ID, you might have problems. I flew domestically and had lost my license and had to show TSA everything else I had - credit cards, check books, insurance cards. They let me by but not sure if customs would.
posted by polkadot at 2:01 PM on November 15, 2013

Best answer: Datapoint: I traveled internationally using my maiden name on both my passport and tickets. I didn't even carry my DL nor did I show my DL at the airport. This was five years after 9/11. I just always put my tickets, hotel, etc. on my maiden name.
posted by mochapickle at 2:02 PM on November 15, 2013

Best answer: Yup, I've traveled internationally with my maiden-named passport several times (US citizen – I also have a EU passport in a third, different name and use that to enter the EU with no problems; it's only when flying back to the US that I have to use one that matches – or the airline has to pay significant fines). Buy the tickets in your maiden name.
posted by halogen at 2:05 PM on November 15, 2013

Best answer: Another data point: if you get a name change on your passport, the State Department print it in the back. Department of Homeland Security has not caught on to this and will hassle you in the line, sometimes to the point of not letting you through. After my name change, I was kicked out of several security lines because the name on my ticket did not match the name in the front of my passport. I pointed to the line in the back and was accused of forging it. Yes, really.
posted by rednikki at 2:40 PM on November 15, 2013

Best answer: So I am in the same boat as you. Honestly, it depends on who you get with TSA and gate agents. My passport is in my maiden name, but I almost always book my flight with my married name (for frequent flier/status reasons). I bring a copy of my marriage license with me just in case and my old driver's license with my maiden name and my current effective license with my married name.

As my anecdata - a customs agent has never cared one bit about the name differences. My passport is valid and looks like me, they seem happy. The only times I've had trouble has been with gate agents for the airline. Usually they are appeased with the marriage license.

I have traveled out of country 3 times in the past 2 months if the timing helps.

In re-reading the question, if you book your flight in your maiden name (which matches your passport) - i don't think anyone will care.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 2:53 PM on November 15, 2013

Response by poster: OK, that settles it, I'll save the $100 for now. Thanks for all the help!

(rednikki, that sounds terrible! I'm sorry!)
posted by ancient star at 2:56 PM on November 15, 2013

How much time is left on your passport? When I changed my name, as rednikki mentioned, the State Department just printed a line on the last page that said "THIS PASSPORT WAS AMENDED SEP 01 2005 TO CHANGE THE BEARER'S NAME TO READ FIRST MAIDEN LAST."

I did not have any troubles with TSA, but I did have a customs agent look at the front, look at the back, and tell me I changed my name wrong. Because I had dropped my middle name for my maiden name, and that seemed not right to him. "What's wrong with Megan?" he asked.

I wish I was making that up.

In any case, changing the name did not cost anywhere near what it costs to get a new passport.
posted by ambrosia at 3:01 PM on November 15, 2013

Following up on ambrosia's point about the fees - if your current passport is less than a year old, you may be able to have the passport name updated, for no charge, without applying for a whole new passport.
posted by Signed Sealed Delivered at 3:12 PM on November 15, 2013

Best answer: I can only speak for the TSA side of things. They want your ID to exactly match your ticket. Otherwise you may get extra screening or be denied.

And really, name changes are fluid, especially for women. Often simple politeness with get you far.
posted by "friend" of a TSA Agent at 9:54 PM on November 15, 2013

Best answer: I've been travelling internationally for five years on my maiden name passport (more than six or seven times a year). I have never had a problem. I just use my maiden name when purchasing the ticket. Once the passport expires I will get one with the correct name. I do not carry a DL or other form of ID. I suppose this would be problematic should I ever lose the passport while on the road.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 12:58 PM on November 16, 2013

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