Does a Marriage Certificate Qualify as a Name Change for Passport Requirements?

By Marcy Brinkley

If you formally change your name when you marry, you must notify all government agencies that have issued you documents, licenses and identification cards in your former name. These documents might include an updated Social Security card, driver's license and a passport, if you have one. Proof of marriage is required to change your name on a U.S. passport.

Marriage Certificate

If you changed your name at the time of your marriage, you may use either the original marriage certificate or a certified copy as proof of the change. A certified copy typically has a raised seal and indicates the copy has been certified by a government official, such as a court clerk. Documents such as photocopies of the certificate, a church record or a copy of the marriage license are not acceptable proof. If you used your husband's last name socially but did not change it legally at the time of marriage, you cannot later change the name on your passport without a copy of a court order showing the legal name change.

Obtaining a Certified Copy

If you do not have a certified copy of your marriage certificate, you may obtain one from the agency where you applied for your marriage license. If convenient, go to the licensing office to immediately obtain a copy. Otherwise, contact the licensing office for instructions on requesting a copy by mail. Typically, you will be asked to submit a completed request form, proof of identity and a money order or certified check for the applicable fee. Many states also provide copies of marriage certificates through a centralized vital statistics office.

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Change Within One Year of Issuance

If your passport was issued less than one year ago and before your name change, you may request the change on your passport by mailing your passport to the National Passport Processing Center along with the original or certified copy of your marriage certificate and a signed and dated, "Application for a U.S. Passport: Name Change, Data Correction, and Limited Passport Book Replacement." If your passport was issued more than 90 days before submitting the application for a name change, you must also submit one passport photograph with your application. There is no fee for routine service but there is an extra fee for expedited service.

Change After One Year of Issuance

If your passport was issued more than one year ago and before your name change, you must mail your current passport, a completed "Application for a U.S. Passport by Mail," an original or certified copy of the marriage certificate and the applicable renewal fee to the National Passport Processing Center. You may have expedited service for an extra fee. Current fees and processing times are listed on the U.S. Department of State's website.

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