There are a number of reasons why you may need to change the name on your passport, from simply correcting an error to having your passport reflect major changes in your life. While changing the name on your passport may sound like an arduous task with lots of red tape, the truth it that a passport name change is usually fairly easy and straightforward. Even better, the sooner you act on changing the name on your passport, the quicker the process will often take. While a passport name change is something many people will have to deal with at some point in their lives, most people are largely unaware of how to go about changing the name on their passport. Below is a brief guide to doing just that.
If you need to change the name on your passport because of a printing or spelling error then the process is relatively straightforward. Correcting an error, including not just name errors but errors relating to gender or date/place of birth, are free of charge, both for minors and adults. To correct an error you will need to fill out Form DS-5504 and mail it to the U.S. Department of State along with a color photograph and proof that there is an error on your passport. Keep in mind that if you report the error within one year of receiving your passport then your new passport will be valid for 10 years from when the new passport was issued. If, on the other hand, you wait for more than a year then the new, correct passport will have the same expiration date as the old, incorrect passport.
People change their names for a variety of reasons, most often because of a marriage or divorce. Some people, meanwhile, may need to obtain a court-ordered name change, whether for personal or security reasons. If you have changed your name then you will need to apply for a new passport, but how you do so will depend on your unique situation. For example, if it has been less than a year since your last passport was issued then you can just use Form DS-5504 as described above.
If, however, it has been longer than a year since your last passport was issued then you will need to verify if you are eligible for submitting Form DS-82. You are eligible for this form if you are able to submit your most recent passport, your most recent passport was issued less than 15 years ago, you were over 16 years of age when it was issued, the passport has not been lost, stolen, mutilated, or damaged, and either your current name is the same as on the last passport you held last or you can provide documentation of your name change. You will need to submit originals of your name change documents along with any applicable fees. Both Form DS-5504 and Form DS-82 can be submitted by mail.
If you are not eligible for Form DS-82 then you will need to go to an Acceptance Facility or Passport Agency in person and fill out Form DS-11. You will also need to provide originals of your name change documents along with proof of U.S. citizenship, a photocopy and original of a valid I.D., a color passport photo, and any applicable fees. Even if your valid I.D. has been issued in your new name, you will still need to provide documentation of the name change, such as a court order.
As the above shows, getting a passport name change is relatively simple. However, you will need to know which form to use for your particular situation in order to complete the passport update faster.