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Passport Name Change While Abroad

passport with boarding pass inside

There are any number of situations why you might undergo a legal name change. Whatever the reason, it is important to update your passport as well. If you are outside of the United States and need to change your name on your passport, there are several key considerations and steps you must account for.

First, you must be prepared to conform with the rules of an official passport name change. Where you are applying from will have no bearing on these procedures. To help, we maintain a complete guide to the passport name change process.

Of particular note is the fact that U.S. passports are no longer amended to change items appearing on the data page (which was once the common practice). This means you will need to apply for a new U.S. passport in your new name. This process looks differently depending upon how recently your name has been changed and the remaining validity of your existing passport.

Most registered passport expediting services are prepared to help you with completing this process correctly and quickly while you are in the United States, but their ability to help while you are outside of the U.S. may be limited. This is because while you are abroad, there are several potential complications to the passport processing that must be accounted for.

Important Considerations when Updating Your Passport Overseas

Once you have the proper forms and supporting documentation for your passport name change, there are other aspects of the process you will need to accept and understand:

Handle your passport business locally – Instead of mailing documents back and forth to the U.S. (and leaving yourself stranded without them), you will be dealing directly with the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy. Any time you travel abroad, you should know where these critical points of contact are located. If you are unsure where your best options are located, check out our list of U.S. Embassies and Consulates.

You will need an appointment along with specific supporting documentation to complete the passport name change process. In most cases, photocopies of your supporting materials and/or application forms will not be accepted.

Onward travel – If you have any tickets already booked or purchased in your original name – even if they are for your return to the United States – avoid changing your name on your passport. You will be unlikely able to board a plane, train, boat, or other border-crossing transport with documentation that does not match. Save the potential hassles and postpone your passport name change until your current travel itineraries are completed. Traveling with your former name should not be an issue.

Be prepared for unique circumstances – Each U.S. embassy and consulate has its own procedures for handling travel documentation. Consult the U.S. Department of State website for the latest and most up-to-date information about updating your passport overseas.

Top 5 Questions About Expedited Passport Couriers

1. How can you get a passport when you're in a hurry?
2. What exactly does a passport expediter do?
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Get answers to these questions and more in our Ultimate U.S. Traveler's Guide to Passport Expediters.

You can also visit our library of articles about passport expediting.

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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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