(Un)Happy Anniversary from the Federal Government

I am seeing red and so steaming hot mad as I write this.  This is worse than any sort of my-husband-left-the-toilet-seat-up-again or I’m-taking-the-fall-for-my-boss’s-mistake type of thing.  What has me so angry?  The government trying to interfere with my upcoming vacation.  And as my one year anniversary approaches this weekend, I find the government’s actions a little ironic.  So how about some background?

Okay, Chase and I got married May 13, 2011.  We were going on our honeymoon to the Dominican in July/August.  To be extra certain I would have my passport in time, I applied for my passport in June, 2011 under my maiden name knowing that I would change my name when we returned and get a new passport after that (according to the people at the post office where I applied, all I would have to do was fill out a name change form).

So I change my name in August, 2011.  For those who know me, and Chase who witnessed it, this was an emotional experience and not something I personally was thrilled about doing.  But I did it.  And the name change at the social security office went smoothly.  The BMV, on the other hand, was another story.  See previous blog rant.

So a few weeks ago, I submit my name change passport form because we are traveling out of country in June.  The form asks if your name has changed since the date your last passport was issued.  Since I got my passport in June and changed my name in August, I answered this question with a yes.  I provided a copy of my marriage certificate and the date I changed my name.

Today I get a letter in the mail saying that I have to apply for a new passport, not a name change, because my name changed BEFORE my passport was issued.  Wrong, I think to myself yell in the phone to Chase who is reading me this ridiculous letter.

So I call the number on the letter and get a government gem nightmare.  I explain the situation and that there must have been a mistake in processing.  The lady on the other line then proceeds to tell me that my name changed the day I got married. Wrong!  I explain how wrong she is and she continues telling me that my name legally changed on the date of my marriage.  Still wrong!  I then posit this question: so are you telling me that if I had applied in May for a passport with the last name Haller, the government would have given me one even though my name didn’t change ‘legally’ to Haller until August.  She doesn’t answer the question.  Instead, she gives me some lines about how I could have used my husband’s name starting in May and that if I had applied for my first passport before I got married I wouldn’t have this problem.  In her eyes, because I got married and could have changed my name before I applied for my first passport, I didn’t qualify now that I had changed my name.

So she wants me to apply for a new passport and pay $170 (for the application and the expedited rate to get my passport before our very near vacation).  So I go online to fill out the form.  I do so and how much does it say I owe?  Nothing!  Because unless I answer the question “did your name change since your most recent passport was issued” with a no (which assumes my name changed in May and not August), I won’t have to pay.

Can anyone even follow this mess?  UGH!  So I called back and per my usual experience with the government, got someone else who said totally different things than the first person.  This lady was nice and said someone would call me.  Who knows when that will be.  She couldn’t even tell me.

So where does that leave me?  Well I don’t want to pay the $170 for a new passport I shouldn’t have to get.  On the other hand, I really need a vacation.  Therefore, it appears my best option may be to ‘lie’ on this government document – something I’m pretty sure is illegal.

So as my wedding anniversary approaches and I think of how happy my husband makes me, I think it is a darn good thing because the name change associated with this marriage is a huge pain in the rump.  All thanks to the federal government.  Happy anniversary I suppose.  The government wonders why its reputation is in the toilet.  Well let me tell you: because I am a smart person who fills out forms properly and with precision and even I evidently cannot figure out the government’s logic on this one.

Please tell me this has happened to someone else!  Am I the only person who didn’t change their name until later?  Has the government seriously not encountered this situation before or has but fails to correct their forms to ask appropriate questions?  Can I just swim across the Rio Grande into Mexico like everyone else and forget my passport?   Should I persist or just lie on the form and pay the money? 

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