Should I wait to change my name?
July 26, 2007 8:30 AM   Subscribe

Is my passport enough ID for travel? Is having my name changed on my drivers license & credit/debit cards before a trip a bad idea?

I'm going on vacation to the at the end of August, and I want to make sure I have no problems getting to where I am going with my ID. I will be flying to Florida from Massachusetts and then taking a cruise to various islands in the Caribbean.

I got married in October of last year and have been very lazy about changing my name on my personal documents. The only thing that has my new name so far is my social security card. My drivers' license, debit card, credit card, passport, etc all have my maiden name.

Because of this, I booked both the cruise & flight with my maiden name because I know that you need to provide ID.

However, I have just moved to a new state and would like to get my new drivers' license and update all my bank info once and for all. I suppose I could wait until I get back in September but (1) I am supposed to have my license changed within 60 days of moving to this state, so I've got about 2 weeks left (2) I'm sick of all of the confusion my old name on my ID & financial stuff has been causing.

Do you think there will be any problems if I travel with my passport being the only document that matches the name on my tickets? I could bring my marriage license as backup proof of my name change.
posted by catfood to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
We did this not long ago as my wife has not changed her name but booked the tickets as Mrs. mkb instead of in her maiden name. I called both the TSA and the airline and both recommended taking the marriage license as backup.
posted by mkb at 8:37 AM on July 26, 2007

I have no idea how these things work technically, but if it were me, I would go ahead and update your driver's license and bring your passport and (definitely) your marriage license.
posted by Zephyrial at 8:39 AM on July 26, 2007

Best answer: My wife's driver license has her married name, her passport her maiden name. We've left the country about five times, 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 you travel your name is the one on the passport and you'll be fine.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:04 AM on July 26, 2007

Just use your passport and don't even bother bringing other ID unless you have plans to drive while on your trip. I haven't had a drivers license in over a decade (my wife loves to drive and we're New Yorkers) and have traveled extensively using only my passport. Not once has anyone ever asked for additional ID once I've shown it.
posted by JaredSeth at 9:21 AM on July 26, 2007

Best answer: Do you think there will be any problems if I travel with my passport being the only document that matches the name on my tickets?

No. I am in the exact same situation (recently married, some docs in married name but some in maiden). As long as your flights and cruise are booked in the name that matches your passport, you'll be fine.

I could bring my marriage license as backup proof of my name change.

I would recommend making a photocopy of it and carrying that instead, since you only need it for backup, and not as a primary identification. It can be difficult and time-consuming to replace it if lost... and in my jurisdiction there is a sentimental value to the original as well since it was executed at the ceremony.

Also in your case, you should definitely consider scanning a copy of your maiden-name passport and emailing it to yourself at a browser-based address, so you can access it online from anywhere in case of emergency. If the passport is your only ID proving ticketed name... and it gets lost or stolen while on your trip... you could have a hell of a time getting home.
posted by pineapple at 10:05 AM on July 26, 2007

Response by poster: Wow, great advice pineapple. I actually have 2 certified copies of my marriage license, so I'm not concerned about that, but the passport suggestion is terrific.

Thank you everyone! I feel much better about proceeding with getting my new drivers license.
posted by catfood at 10:57 AM on July 26, 2007

I don't have experience with the Caribbean, but some countries are much more concerned about it than others. In Japan I had a fair amount of difficulty explaining that "Steve" and "Steven" are the same name a couple times.

But yeah, make sure the name on your passport is the name you are travelling under. No one will care about your driver's license except for the curiosity of seeing a driver's license from another country.
posted by Ookseer at 11:13 AM on July 26, 2007

It sounds like having a driver's license backup isn't necessary, but you know, you get to keep your old driver's license when you get your new in-state one. You could use that to corroborate your maiden-name passport even though you have the new license.
posted by blueshammer at 1:53 PM on July 26, 2007

you get to keep your old driver's license when you get your new in-state one

I think this must vary by state -- Texas makes you surrender your old license to get the one, plus it's illegal here to be in possession of two state-issued licenses. Florida, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania were the same, last I heard. The MA website says this, and implies that they also require surrender.

One can always pretend one lost the first ID, and lie at the DMV, in order to use it as maiden-name ID later. But that might lead to problems with obtaining the second, since there's no way to demonstrate that one is licensed in prior home state.

posted by pineapple at 2:50 PM on July 26, 2007

I don't want to sound like a jerk, but have you considered just not changing your name?
posted by loiseau at 4:38 PM on July 26, 2007

Yes, take your wedding certificate, but keep it well out of sight unless you need it. Basically, you goofed when you made the booking. One of the principles of the new security regime is that people should travel under their own legal name -- not unreasonable when you think about it.

However, no one is going to notice, as they process thousands of people every day. Just hand over your passport, the gold standard of ID documents, it will be checked for being a forgery, checked against a list of suspicious characters, and you will be let through. As you stand there, there should be nothing to show it isn't still the name you use (think when tagging your baggage).

If anyone did notice (the cruise ship people being the likeliest people) you will be able to talk your way out of it, as it is such a common situation. But frankly the TSA would be justified in giving you a hard time -- do update your passport when you have an opportunity. Obeying sensible security rules is a no-brainer.
posted by Idcoytco at 1:30 AM on July 27, 2007

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