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Update your passport

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab
Contents
U.S. Passport updating policies Process Process

U.S. Passport updating policies

If you have made a change to your name or gender marker since your travel document was last issued, it is a good idea to apply to have these items changed on your passport as well. The application and supporting documents that you will submit depend on a couple of factors, so please read carefully to make sure you are submitting the correct information. 

  • The application takes approximately 4 to 6 weeks to process 
  • Requesting an expedited service will get it processed in 2 to 3 weeks

In June 2010, the State Department announced a policy to issue passports that reflect a person’s gender marker. Under this policy, a transgender person can obtain a passport reflecting their gender marker by submitting certification from a physician confirming gender affirming surgery. No specific medical treatment is required. This policy replaced the Department’s old policy. 

 

Additional Resources

Full text of the gender marker policy - US State Department Foreign Affairs Manual:
https://fam.state.gov/FAM/08FAM/08FAM040303.html

US State Department Gender Information:
https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/apply-renew-passpor...

US State Department Passport Home:
http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html

US State Department, Change Your Name in Your Passport:
https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/services/correct...

US State Department, Frequently Asked Questions on Passports and Citizenship Documents:
https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/FAQs.html

Call the National Passport Information Center for Information or Complaints:
1-877-487-2778

Process

Step One: Complete application form +

There are 3 possible application forms that can be used to change the name on a passport. Choose the form that best applies to your situation from the list below. The link will open a page where you can download the form and obtain instructions and tips for completing the application.

1. Passport issued LESS than 1 year ago

2. Passport issued MORE than 1 year ago 

3. No document to prove legal name change 

If you prefer, you may complete the form online. When the page opens, agree to the disclaimer and click the "Submit" button. You will then choose the correct form.

Note: some applicants have encountered connection difficulties or problems with the online form accepting certain data. If this happens to you, just download the correct application form and complete it offline.

Step Two: Gather supporting documents +

Below is a list of the supporting documents that you need to submit with the request for changing the name on your passport. Be sure to assemble the correct materials and documentation for your situation.

1. Passport issued LESS than 1 year ago

  • Passport
  • Passport photo
  • Evidence of name change

2. Passport issued MORE than 1 year ago 

  • Passport
  • Passport photo
  • Evidence of name change

3. No document to prove legal name change

  • Passport
  • Passport photo
  • 3 public records with date and place of birth proving exclusive use of new name for at least 5 years

 

Note: The documents submitted as evidence of your legal name change must be original copies or certified copies. Acceptable documents include a marriage certificate, divorce decree, adoption certificate, or a court order. Driver's licenses and Social Security cards are not acceptable as proof of a legal name change.

Photocopies and notarized copies of documents are not acceptable for passport purposes. If you need to acquire a certified copy of your marriage certificate, you can do so through the vital records office of the state in which you were married.

 

For more information, visit Where to Write for Vital Records.

Step Three: Package and send +

Both Forms DS-5504 and DS-82 can be mailed to the address printed on the applications. Place the completed applications, supporting documents, and payment fees in a protective packaging, such as a Tyvek envelope. It is recommended that you use a traceable delivery method

 

If you need to use Form DS-11, you are required to appear in person at an application acceptance facility. These are usually located in post offices, county and city clerk offices, and public libraries. Call before visiting these offices to guarantee that the location is open and accepting applications.

Process

Step One: Complete application form +

You must apply using Form DS-11, unless you are replacing a limited-validity passport in your new sex within two years of its issuance date (see below). In addition to the regularly-required documents*, submit the following:

  1. ID that resembles your current appearance
  2. Passport photo that resembles your current appearance
  3. A medical certification that indicates you have had gender affirming surgery to male or female, or are in the process of gender affirming surgery. 
  4. Proof of legal name change (if applicable)

 

Replacing a Limited-Validity Passport

You may have received a limited-validity passport because your transition was in process at the time of your application. To replace a limited-validity passport with a full-validity passport, submit Form DS-5504 (at no additional cost). To use this form, you must apply within two years of your previous passport's issuance date, and you must have completed your gender affirming surgery when you apply.

Submit the following:

  • Your limited passport book
  • Passport photo that resembles your current appearance
  • medical certification indicating you have had gender affirming surgery

If your transition is still in process two years after the issuance date of your limited-validity passport, you must submit a new Form DS-11 and satisfy the requirements for another limited-validity passport including a medical certification letter.

Step Two: Gather supporting documents +

*See Apply in Person for all regularly-required passport documents

 

Medical Certification

A signed, original statement from a licensed physician must be on office letterhead and include:

  • Physician’s full name, address, and telephone number
  • Medical license or certificate number
  • Issuing state or other jurisdiction of medical license/certificate
  • Language stating that:
    • He or she has treated you, or has reviewed and evaluated your medical history
    • You have had gender affirming surgery.
  • The statement must include, “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States that the foregoing is true and correct.”
  • Medical certification requirements are the same for a minor as an adult.

template medical certification is available for download here.

 

A description of specific medical or surgical treatments as part of gender affirming surgery is not required in the medical certification. The certification is based on your physician's clinical assessment of your treatment. The certification meets the standards and recommendations of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health which is recognized by the American Medical Association.

 

Applicant Advice: We understand that people experience hiccups in the process to update your gender marker. Many physician letters get rejected because they do not follow the exact language of the model letter, so please ask your physician to use the model language word for word. If you receive a letter from the State Department that they need additional information for your application, do not be alarmed. Follow the instructions of the letter from the State Department and send in any additional documentation within 90 days. Keep copies of everything you submit, and ask your physician for extra originals of their signed letter if you can. 

Step Three: Submitting application and supporting documents +

Form DS-11 requires you to appear in person at an application acceptance facility. These are usually located in post offices, county and city clerk offices, and public libraries. Call before visiting these offices to guarantee that the location is open and accepting applications.

Last Review and Update: Jun 17, 2021