My names are not the same on some documents. What must I do?

Passport Frequently Asked Questions and AnswersQuestion: I have various official documents showing different names. Let me explain. I was single when I received my driver’s license and my original passport. Since then, I married and changed my passport. I still have my old driver’s license. About five months ago, before marrying my wife, I got tickets to travel to England to see my sister? The ticket is my then maiden name. I contacted the travel agent to change the ticket and they informed me that they could not do so because the names are not the same. I do not understand. People get married all the time. Why is it a big deal?

Answer: Since the tightening of travel requirements many years ago, the TSA developed guidelines governing authenticating identity when traveling. Those guidelines are part of their Secure Flight Program. You are not alone. Many people experience this problem.

Travel agencies, especially online services do not typically cooperate in these matters. It is simply to complex and requires personal attention.

The best practice is to:

  1. See if you can get a refund and reissue the tickets in your proper name.
  2. If you cannot do so, contact the airline and see if they can handle the problem for you.
  3. If they cannot help, then arrive at least 2 hours early to deal with the problem at the point of departure. Be sure to bring all of your documentation with you (your old passport and your re-issued passport, marriage license, old driver’s license, etc.). If you can get a new license prior to travel that would be very good since many rental agencies overseas will want to match your passport to your driver’s license if you wish to rent a car. However, bring your old license as well just to be safe.
  4. Understand that this is a common problem and if you bring the correct documentation (old and new) with you there is a good chance that you will be allowed to travel. If you are very concerned and can easily get to the airport a week or so prior, to travel than you can do a “dry run” with the documentation. Be sure to explain the situation to avoid misunderstandings with security personnel.

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