Passport Question

I was an idiot and let my passport lapse a few years ago, so I need to go through the whole process for getting a new one again - plus, with this RealID thing coming in 2020, I need to get one so I can fly.

Here’s my problem: in order to get a passport, you need to show a valid form of ID, like a birth certificate. Well, I’ve got my birth certificate, but the names on it (both first and middle) don’t match the spellings I’ve used since I was a kid. Essentially, my parents misspelled the way they wanted my name to be on the BC (my name isn’t Karen, but think of it as spelling it “Karin” instead of “Karen.”)

All of my information, from the time I was a little kid, has their preferred spelling, which isn’t the one on the BC. That includes my driver’s license. Likewise, my middle name on my driver’s license is spelled one way, but differently on the BC (this time, it’s got one extra letter on the BC). I hate my middle name and never use it, so I never paid much attention to it.

The last time I got a passport was in 1997, and none of this was a problem. But I’m really afraid it’s going to be this time, since everything is scrutinized so much more carefully these days.

Has anybody else had this issue? Am I worrying about nothing? Or am I going to have to do some kind of legal rigamarole to get everything to line up (in which case, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t just go ahead and change my hated middle name to something I like better)?

If the last passport you got was in 1997, then your passport expired more than a “few years ago”, more like 11 years ago.

Your passport will need to include your legal name as it is on your birth certificate, unless you have a court approved name change. I’m curious how you got your state issued drivers license under an assumed name.

It’s not exactly an “assumed name.” It’s the same name, spelled with one letter differently. And I’ve literally never gone by the spelling on my birth certificate. When my parents registered me for preschool, it was under their preferred spelling.

No idea how the passport people let it through, but they did. I got in and out of the country with it, and nobody even brought it up.

You might be right, but I doubt it. I have never used the name on my BC and I keep getting new passports under my usual name. When I got my first passport, I had to get two people who knew me under both names to sign notarized “one and the same” affidavits. The only two people who did were my parents (and there was a question of what name they should use since their customary was the same as mine, not the one on my father’s BC). Okay, this was in 1964 and things were obviously much looser in those days. Nonetheless I still keep getting passports in that name, most recently in 2016 and they obviously do know that I am not using my BC name.

Even more surprising is that what happened when I needed a BC for my retirement annuity. I wrote to the Commonwealth vital statistics bureau in Harrisburg, assuming that they would send a copy of the original BC and I would have a bit of hassle explaining to the pension office that administers the annuity about the name change. Instead, they reacted to the fact that the name I used was not the name on my BC by sending me back a letter saying that if I could document the fact that I had been using my customary name for at least ten years, they would issue a BC in that name. I sent them photocopies of my current and all the old expired passports and my college diplomas which went back to 1959 and they sent me the new BC immediately. That was in 1999, the year I retired. Would they do that today? Dunno. But don’t be too certain what they will or won’t do.

Incidentally, my family started using the new name about when I was born, but put the old one on my BC. They didn’t have to do that, but didn’t realize it. But it appears on no other document.

I decided to take the plunge and call the passport office (which I probably should have done anyway). According to the person I talked to, since I already have a passport (even though it’s expired and lost) under the name I use, it won’t be any trouble for me to get a new one with the same name. I just have to fill out a form, bring my birth certificate and driver’s license, and give them the info about when the original passport was issued.

I sure hope this is correct. She didn’t seem to think the fact that the name on my BC and the name on the expired passport aren’t the same should be an issue. Crossing fingers.

Yeah, up until the relatively recent obsession over ID, the difference between “MIke” and “Michael” was never a big deal. I had ID’s with both names and everyone seemed to get that it was the same person. But, now, since my BC says “Michael” that’s what my ID HAS to say. And much of the time my middle initial needs to be listed as well. I had to change the name on my credit cards recently to comply (not a quick and easy task, letmettellyou). The utilitity bills were somewhat easier. . . After over 40 years of being “Mike” now everything that identifies me says “Michael” . . .hmmm. . .I wonder if I have to change my username here - I know how fastidious TPTB here are about stuff like that! :smiley:

ETA: it probably wont be a big deal that your old passport had a different spelling, but I bet your new one will have the spelling on your BC!

Just a quick note that when you make international plane reservations, make them in the name spelling on your passport. My children have two middle names and we have had issues with different middle initial being used for the ticket vs. passport and the airline didn’t know how to handle easily. SOlution for the future for us is, “don’t put down middle initial on plane tickets”. But that is all to say, a single letter difference will be noted and cause problems.

I had a similar sort of problem a couple of years ago. I have my three names on my driver’s license, but only two on my passport, since that is missing my middle name. I lost my driver’s license (wallet pickpocketed in Greece), and had to get a new one from the NSW government. I thought that my passport would be adequate identification, but no – I had to produce old forms of ID that had my middle name on them. Fortunately, I did have them.

In our ID-obsessed society, this is going to keep being a problem for you. If not a passport, then something else.

Bite the bullet and get a legal name change to your preferred spelling. Then you can show the official court order to all the petty bureaucrats that are bound to hassle you in the future.

Which passport office did you call? The one associated with your local post office, where you spoke with an hourly employee? Or, the US State Department?

Just curious.

According to the government, the name you use that is not on your birth certificate, would be an alias.

I had a similar situation when I got my first passport about 7 years ago. My middle name was misspelled on my BC. The person that accepted my application said it was no problem, all my other forms of ID had it spelled correctly. Proved to be a non issue.

Not necessarily. I use the common diminutive of my name (think “Tom” for “Thomas”) When I was a teen, I filled out the DL form as they requested - Firstname Middlename, Lastname.

Somewhere along the line, I got them to drop “Middlename” for “M” (middle initial) at one of the renewals. Then, as an adult, when I went to get a passport, I filled out my name as First, M, Lastname. They gave it to me that way. I then (almost immediately) ran to the DMV & asked them to ‘correct’ my license since it was ‘wrong’ so now both my DL & passport read First M Lastname.

I should go to Social Security & see if I can get them to change my name there w/ all of the official government issued IDs that I have that show them different what what SS has.

Depends on the government and on where the certificate was issued.

The US government has a list of so-called aliases for me which includes over 20 entries; most of them are either abbreviations or fuller versions of the name than the one they consider “my legal name”. There’s a horrible transcription (I still want to know if the library page who copied it like that was supposed to know the Latin alphabet and why the heck does the US government care) and, of course and being a Hispanic woman, María García (excuse me, Maria Garcia). The name they consider “my legal name” is considered a partial version by the government under which I was actually born.

The Spanish government doesn’t have any aliases listed for me. To call something an alias it has to be unrecognizable as a variant of the official versions (there can be more than one official version, as there are official abbreviations). At one point I went through an official name-change to shorten the name printed on ID to a form that would be easier for foreigners to deal with, but I could have done that at age 14-minus-one-day just by giving my preferred version to the cop who typed my first ID.

I called the actual passport office, not the hourly employees.

If I recall correctly, when I renewed my expired passport, I only had to supply current photos.

They already had my BC from the previous passport. The old passport was all they needed. But, times have changed. Don’t know about these days.

It won’t be a problem. My passport is different than my DMV card. I was all worked up about it and they could have cared less. The main concern of the Passport people is that you are a citizen of the USA. It’s going to be the name on your birth certificate/social security card. I listed it on the a/k/a sheet.

Most states have a “quick fix” for simple errors on birth certificates, as in Dauid instead of David. Sometimes that involves a name change, other times it’s just paperwork. Check it out first if you want to try and have it “fixed” before you go.

My passport does not have the name on my birth certificate and my name was not changed in court. Mine is in the name associated with my social security number, though. The change happened overtime in a process similar to Spiderman’s.

I have slightly different versions of my name on my passport, DL, and credit cards, and usually just use my first name and last name when making flight reservations. Never had a problem.

As I said above, no document I have, passport, driver’s licence, school records, whatever, uses the name on my BC.