Updated: Mar 8, 2020
You've said your vows, cut the cake and had your instagram worthy send-off. Now that the big day is over, how do you go about changing all your travel related documents so you can keep traveling!
Step 1: Social Security Card
Make sure this is the first thing you do. It will be necessary to have this done for other items on this list. The process is relatively harmless. You will need to fill out an Application for Social Security Card, and provide documentation of your identity, proof of citizenship, and reason for name change. The easiest choices are a driver's license, passport or birth certificate, and marriage license. For a full list of other acceptable forms, check here. Once you have the application filled out and have gathered the required documents, you can either mail everything in or stop by a field office. You can use this search tool to find the office closest to where you live. I used a local office in Memphis and was in and out in about 30 minutes. They will still have to mail you your new passport, but mine arrived in only about 2 weeks!
Step 2: Passport
This is the most expensive item on the list, but necessary if you want to keep traveling! Hopefully the timing will work out that you may be ready to renew your current passport anyway. If not, look at the bright side...maybe you'll end up with a better picture than the mug shot you currently have? Keep in mind that whenever you are renewing a passport, you should always renew BEFORE you are within 6 months of its expiration. Most other countries have a requirement that your passport must be valid for 3 to 6 months from your initial date of entry. Better to be safe than sorry!
The procedure for this is the same as a regular passport application or renewal. The easiest way is to fill out their online form. Then you will need to print it and send it in with your supporting documentation. In addition to the application (Form DS-82), you will also need to send in your current passport, certified copy of your marriage certificate, a new passport photo, and your payment. After filling out the online form, you will get instructions on how to print it and where to send it in. As always with passport renewals, give yourself plenty of time to get your new passport back before you will be traveling anywhere out of the country. Routine delivery takes 6 - 8 weeks, and expedited service is usually 2 - 3 weeks.
Step 3: Driver's License
This one may vary from state to state, but the basic rules are the same. You will need to go to a driver's license or county clerk's office to get this done. You should take your current driver's license and a certified copy of your marriage certificate.
If your current driver's license is not yet REAL ID compliant, you might as well kill two birds with one stone. To do this, you will also need proof of citizenship, proof of your social security number, and two proofs of residence for the state you live in. Typically, the most common documentation would be your birth certificate, social security card, and proofs of residence such as a utility bill, mortgage or lease, vehicle registration, bank statement or paycheck stub. For a full list of acceptable documents, see your State's Department of Safety and Homeland Security website or Driver Services Division.
Step 4: TSA PreCheck/Global Entry
If you don't have TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, shame on you! This will change your life. For more information on the benefits of TSA PreCheck, see my article "A Beginner's Guide to International Travel". To change personal information on your TSA PreCheck account, you'll have to call (855) 347-8371 between 8:00 am and 10:00 pm ET. You can also submit an online inquiry, and they will send you an email with instructions and a list of required documentation.
If you are a member of the Global Entry program, you can submit an email inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org, or login to your account at the Trusted Traveler Program website.
Step 5: Bank and Credit Cards
Your bank will most likely require you to personally go into a branch office with the proper documentation. Your new driver's license and certified copy of your marriage certificate should do the trick. If you are unsure, you can always call them ahead of time to verify that they don't have any additional requirements.
Credit cards and other loan companies will most likely have the same documentation requirements as banks. However, many of these may not have offices in the city where you live. Call the customer service number and ask for their procedure for name changes. They will most likely send you an email with instructions, which should include a way for you to scan the required documentation and send it back via email.
Step 6: Health, Life and Travel Insurance
If these are paid for privately, you should be able to call the customer service number to ask what their procedure is. After doing so, you should get an email with instructions and a list of required documents.
If your health or life insurance is through your employer, the procedure may be slightly more complicated. You will need to change the information in your employee records first. Usually, this will mean filling out a new W-4 and providing a copy of your new social security card and driver's license. If you have a job that requires a certification through a state licensing agency or board, you will need to change your name through them as well.
If you will be changing jobs or moving as a result of your marriage, it's especially important to have your name match on all of your employee records before leaving your current job. If they get a call for a reference or job verification, you want them to be able to find your records (and know who you are!)
Step 7: Airline and Frequent Flyer Programs
Airline and frequent flyer programs will typically have the same procedures as other business accounts, as mentioned in previous sections. Because the name on your airline ticket will need to match what is listed on your driver's license, passport, and TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, they are pretty serious about getting their documentation. Some of them will have an online inquiry on their website; however, I found that most of them require a phone call to initiate the name change process. I called the customer service number for each of them, and got an email almost immediately with instructions for submitting the required documents.
Step 8: Booking Sites and Hotel Rewards Programs
Booking sites and reward programs seem to be a little less strict in this regard. I've been able to log in to each of my accounts and change my name in my profile settings. The only complication you might run into is that you won't find the full profile settings on some mobile app versions of websites. You may need to log in on the desktop version in order to accomplish this on some sites.
Bonus: Social Media Accounts
If you share pictures of your travels or use social media to post or write about your trips, this is one to consider. There's always the option of hyphenating so that people who only know you by your previous name can still find you. But I think posting a fabulous wedding pic and changing your name at the same time is the best way to do it!
If you're reading this, I assume that congratulations on your recent or upcoming marriage is in order! I wish you all the best in your marriage AND your future travels! I'd love to hear your comments and feedback, and if you found this helpful, please share!