Changing your name after your nuptials isn't just for the ladies anymore. An increasingly popular trend is for both members of the couple to change their names, to hyphenate or even for the groom to take his bride's last name. Regardless of who is changing what, one of the key steps to make a smooth transition is the "when." And for frequent travelers, finding the time to make the switch can be pretty tricky. Here are some do's and don't's for name changing.
Don't change your name before your honeymoon. It is generally advised that people not make a name change before the honeymoon. Sure, if you are waiting several months before you travel, go for it. But it takes a couple of weeks for the marriage to be final on the books and for your to obtain an official marriage certificate - and then you have to have official government I.D. to board a plane. If you are traveling abroad for your honeymoon, that means a passport and that can take up to five weeks. So, doing the math, you need approximately seven weeks (at least) before you'll have the right identification to leave the country.
If you travel frequently, let your travel agent know that you are changing your name. The process of changing your name can take awhile (see above) so make sure that the person who books your travel knows that you are in the process of changing your name so that they can make sure your plane ticket is booked with the correct surname. Changing the name on a ticket can be an expensive experience.
Play it safe, book travel in your maiden name. Until you have your new documentation in hand, ie. a new drivers license or a new passport, book travel in your maiden name. This will ensure that you have the proper ID to board a plane.
Plan a time to make the switch. On a good day, it takes about 5 weeks to receive a new passport so for frequent travelers, this can put a dent in plans. But if you have all of the right paperwork for your name change done, go ahead and book a flight (maybe for some non-essential travel) in your married name. With ticket in hand, you can expedite the passport process at a regional passport center and have a new one in as short as one day.
New passports can be changed for free. If you are worried that you are getting a new passport in your maiden name to go on your honeymoon but then you are going to be changing your name right after, the State Department (for once) is here to help. Within 12 months of a passport being issued, if you have a name change through marriage, divorce or due to a court order, the State Department will issue you a new passport free of charge. Of course, there are a couple of forms to fill out.
Once one year passes, passport changes get a little more complicated (and pricey), so make sure you don't let that slip.
Pro tip: Use a name-changing service. To speed up the process and get your name changed fast and with as little leg work as possible, seek the advice and the services of professionals.
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