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Acceptable Forms of Name Changes on a U.S. Passport

There are many different reasons why people change their names. The list below provides acceptable forms of name changes that may be entered in U.S. Passports. Each change has specific requirements that must be met in order for the name to be allowed.

There is no fee if the application is mailed within one year of your passport's issuance date and you can submit evidence of the legal name change. After a year, it is necessary to apply for a renewal which has an application fee of $110 or for a new passport which has an application fee of $110 and an execution fee of $35.

Routine processing for a passport name change takes 4-6 weeks. It is possible to expedite passport renewal with a name change. Applicants who request this service by mail should receive the new passport in 2-3 weeks. You can get it done in 8 business days or less at a regional passport agency. You can submit the form yourself or get a third party to do it. This can be anyone you authorize. If needed, there are many professional passport expediting couriers registered with the State Deptartment to provide this service.

1. Adoption of Spouse's Surname: If you wish to use your married name in your passport, you will be required to furnish the original marriage certificate.

If this certificate is not available, you will be required to appear personally at the passport office to execute your application and provide acceptable identification showing exclusive use of the married name and make a statement as to the reasons why the certificate cannot be presented.

2. Hyphenated Surname through Marriage: A person may have a hyphenated surname placed in a passport, providing the original marriage certificate, or acceptable identification in the hyphenated name, is produced.

3. Married/Divorced/Widowed Applicants Using Maiden Name or Previous Married Surname: A married, divorced, or widowed applicant who wishes to have the passport written in his or her maiden name or previous surname is required to provide three pieces of acceptable identification.

If using a previous married surname, the applicant will be required to complete a statement which includes the spouse's name, date and place of birth, date of marriage, and reason for termination (i.e. divorce, death).

You will also be required to furnish the divorce or death certificate. The applicant will need to produce evidence of claim to the former name i.e. marriage certificate or, in the case of maiden name, a birth certificate or expired U.S. passport in that name.

An applicant whose maiden or previous surname is restored after a divorce may present the divorce decree or court order so specifying (original or certified copy).

4. Maiden or Previous Married Surname as "known as" entry: A woman may have her maiden or previous married surname included in her passport as a "known as" name.

She must submit a sworn statement confirming use of her former name, plus documentary evidence of her claim to that name such as a previous passport, a birth certificate, or a previous marriage certificate.

5. "Known As" Professional or Religious Name: An applicant who has assumed a name for professional or religious reasons, while retaining the use of the legal name, may have the professional or religious name included in the passport as a "known as" name.

Both the legal name and the professional or religious name must be shown on the application. The applicant must present acceptable identification in the "known as" name together with public documents confirming the change of name. A sworn statement confirming the use of the "known as" name will also be required.

6. Use of Stepfather's Surname by Minor: A minor who has been using the surname of his/her stepfather may have this name reflected in the passport as long as documentary evidence establishing the minor's exclusive use of that surname for at least five years is provided. Also required is the written consent of both natural parents.

Written consent may be in the form of the natural parents' notarized affidavit of consent, execution of the minor's passport application, or signature on the minor's passport application to identify the child. If the child has used the name for less than five years the name may be written as a "known as" name providing documentary evidence is submitted (see paragraph 5).

7. Use of Guardian's Surname: When the whereabouts of the natural parents are unknown or the natural parents are deceased, and the child has assumed the guardian's surname, the passport may be written in that surname.

In all cases the guardian must provide evidence of legal guardianship (such as the original or certified copy of a court order) and documentary evidence as described on the page on showing the exclusive use of the guardian's surname for at least five years.

If the whereabouts of the parents are unknown the guardian must also provide a notarized affidavit regarding the whereabouts of the natural parents and the child's assumption of the guardian's surname. In the case of the death of the natural parent(s) the death certificate(s) must also be provided.

8. Assumption of Parent's Birth Surname Following Divorce: If a minor has assumed the birth surname of a parent following divorce, a passport for that minor may not be written solely in that surname unless the following documents are submitted:

  • the original divorce decree;
  • the written consent (minor's application executed by parent, parent's signature on application to identify minor, or parent's notarized affidavit) of both natural parents to the name change;
  • or
  • two or three public documents showing exclusive use of the assumed name for at least five years, and an affidavit from the parent as to the child's use of the parent's birth surname. If the assumed name has been used for less than five years, it may be included as a "known as" name if documentary evidence as outlined in paragraph 5 is provided.

9. Complete Change of Name through Usage: An applicant requesting the issuance of, or amendment to, a passport showing an assumed name, where the name has not been legally changed by Court Order, may have a passport written in the assumed name providing s/he has been known exclusively by this name for at least five years.

The applicant must present acceptable identification in the assumed name together with public documents showing the use of the assumed name for at least five years.

In addition, the applicant must be able to submit "Statement of Witness in Support of Change of Name" executed by two or more persons who have personal knowledge of the applicant's use of both names, and who can attest to the applicant's exclusive use of the assumed name for at least five years.

These statements may be executed by relatives, close friends, or business associates. Witnesses will need to accompany the applicant to the passport office in order that their statements may be prepared and sworn to before a Consular Officer.

The witnesses will need to produce some form of legal (photo) identification, preferably their own passports. Affidavits will be executed free of charge. The applicant will also be required to execute his/her own sworn statement confirming the usage of the assumed name.

10. Complete Change of Name by Court Order/Adoption/Statutory Declaration: An applicant who has had his/her name legally changed by U.S. Court Order, and who submits the original or certified copy of the order or decree, may have a passport issued in the new name as reflected in the order or decree. Uncertified copies are not acceptable.

A child who has been legally adopted and has a court order showing a change of name may have a passport issued in the new name provided the original court order shows the previous and present names.

An applicant who has had his/her name changed by Statutory Declaration may have a passport issued in that name providing acceptable identification showing usage of the new name is submitted with the original declaration.

A minor (under the age of 18) must have the statutory declaration signed by both parents. If parents are separated or divorced, please see paragraph 6, 7 or 8.

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About the Author: For over 20 years, the U.S. Passport Service Guide team has helped hundreds of thousands of travelers with their travel document questions and shared advice about how to make traveling abroad simpler, safer, and more enjoyable.

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