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How should we prepare our passports?

by Karen Van....
(Rocklin, CA)

Question: Our last name starts with Van, has a space, and then the rest of our last name appears. Our licenses and my husband's social security card show the name without a space. His birth certificate and my social security card show it split, as does our marriage certificate. What should we do on the passport? Since our licenses are the other main form of ID, is it best to put it together as it appears on the licenses?

Answer: Since the difference is not one of spelling but the presence or absence of a space, you can use the one you prefer. Be aware that you may face problems either way. It is not likely, but it is possible.

When applying for a new passport, you must submit both evidence of U.S. citizenship and proof of identity. The documents most frequently used for this are a birth certificate (citizenship) and driver's license (identity).

If Passport Services requests more documents to support the use of the name, you will need to submit 3 or more public records that show exclusive use of the name for at least 5 years.

You may consider correcting the name on your driver's license and social security card before applying for a passport. Click the links below for more information.

California Driver's License Corrections

Social Security Office Locator

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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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