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How to Add an "Known As" Name to Your Passport


Chances are if you heard the name Paul David Hewson, Alecia Beth Moore, or Eldrick Tont Woods, you would say to yourself, "Who?" How about Bono, Pink, or Tiger? Maybe those names ring a bell. Those are the "known as" names for each of these celebrities' real names, respectively. So how do you go about naming yourself on your passport when the world knows you as someone else? Can you legally put your "known as" name on official documents? It turns out that anyone, famous or not, who goes by a name other than their given name, can add the "known as" name to their passport.

If passport applicants cannot demonstrate that they completely changed their name by court order, or don't otherwise meet the criteria for a complete legal name change, they must use the same name from their birth certificate on their passport. However, if they have assumed a name for professional or other non-fraudulent purposes, they can list the assumed name as a "known as" name in addition to their legal name on the passport.

To be able to add your "known as" name to your passport, you have to submit two affidavits from two people who know you by both names, plus two or more public documents such as tax records, employment records, military records, or some other public records. At least one of the two public documents that you submit must show your current "known as" name and some other identifying data like your social security number, date of birth or age, or place of birth. If no one is able to produce an affidavit on your behalf stating they know you by both names, you can submit three public documents as evidence. You can sign the passport application in either name, but you have to present identification to the passport agent in your "known as" name.

You can use a previous legal name as a "known as" name. For example, if you changed your name to your partner's surname when you married, your maiden (birth surname) is a previous legal name. You have to sign the passport application with both names and submit acceptable current evidence of identity in the "known as" name such as a driver's license in the "known as" name.

Keep in mind that if you sign the passport application with your "known as" name only, and the evidence you submit does not support that you have been using your "known as" name for at least five years, you'll be required to sign the passport application also with your current legal name. The amount of time you've used your "known as" name matters in the passport application process. In other words, you'll have to sign the application with both of your names if you haven't met the length of time criterion for using your "known as" name.

The "known as" designation is usually used when your documentary evidence clearly shows that you openly use both names all the time. You won't be able to obtain the "known as" designation on your passport if you've only recently begun to accumulate the documentation for a new name. You have to have evidence that you've used it for a period of time, so don't bother with it if it hasn't been at least five years that you've been using the "known as" name.

So, if your friends all know you as "Skip" or "Skeeter" but your given name is Lowell, you can use "Skip" as your "known as" name, as long as you can provide two public documents, one of which has the name "Skip" and another identifying piece of data on it going back at least five years, and two people willing to sign sworn affidavits under penalty of perjury that they have known you by both names. If everyone always calls you "Skip", you'll want to make sure that your "known as" name is on your passport to avoid problems with border crossing agents who overhear others refer to you by your "known as" name.

Just be happy you're not "known as" The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, or an unpronounceable symbol. How much trouble would that be?

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