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7 Tips for Updating Your Travel Documents After a Name Change

So you’ve changed your name and want to update all your travel documents. Maybe you just got married and took your partner’s name, or maybe you didn’t like your old name and decided to get a new one. 

Whatever the case, updating all your travel documents with your new name can be a pain. The process can be long and confusing. To help make it a bit easier, here are some tips to follow: 

1. Review your calendar

Be mindful of time constraints before attempting to update any travel documents. For example, if you already have plane tickets or hotel reservations in your old name, now may not be the best time to update your IDs. Why? Because if your ID doesn’t match the name you used for booking tickets and reservations, you may run into trouble.

The best time to update travel documents is when you don’t have any travel plans for a while. That way, you won’t run into any unnecessary complications. Give yourself at least two or three months to update all your travel documents, especially if things are backed up (as they are now for passports). 

If you don’t already have one, get a certified copy of your legal name change document. This could be a marriage certificate, divorce decree, court order, or deed poll. You’ll need this to update many of the other travel documents we will discuss.

3. Update your social security number (SSN) or National Insurance Number (NIN)

You’ll need to get a new Social Security Card in the U.S. or update your National Insurance Number (NIN) in the U.K. For a new Social Security Card, contact the Social Security Administration (SSA). To update your NIN, contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or Jobcentre Plus.

4. Update your passport

Now it’s time to update your passport. Again, you’ll want to do this months in advance of any travel to avoid unnecessary complications. The usual processing time for new passports is six to eight weeks in the U.S. However, it’s taking about four months in 2023. 

That said, you can also pay an extra $60 to expedite your passport application, but this currently still takes seven to nine weeks.

5. Get a new driver’s license

You’ll also want to get a new driver’s license, which is a pretty standard form of ID. In the U.S., for example, it can serve as an ID for domestic flights. 

To update your driver’s license, you’ll need to go to your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or equivalent government agency. Most U.S. states will require you to present a new Social Security card, proof of citizenship, a legal name change document, and two documents that show your current address. 

6. Update your membership in expedited travel programs

If you are part of any expedited travel programs such as TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, or CLEAR, you’ll want to update your member name.

For Global Entry, you may be able to change your name over the phone. If not, you must show up at the nearest enrollment center (such as an airport). No appointment is needed. This will automatically update your TSA PreCheck membership as well. However, if you are not a Global Entry member, you must update your TSA PreCheck membership separately.

CLEAR is not a government program, so you must also update your name with them separately.

7. Update Frequent Flyer and Hotel Loyalty Program accounts

Part of any Frequent Flyer or Hotel Loyalty Program? Then let them know about your recent name change, too. You can look up their contact information online. 

The bottom line

Changing your name on all your travel documents can be tough, but if you follow these steps, the process is bound to run more smoothly.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most agencies are happy to help walk you through the process, and there are even programs like HitchSwitch that will handle much of the work for you.

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