Poems, Personal Stories, and Observations

What’s in a Name?

This is long, but if it will save anyone some trouble, it will be worth it…

For people who may be applying for a driver’s license in the future, especially “real id,” a.k.a. “compliant,” be sure your identification documents are in sync, that is, the first and last names match EXACTLY. Also, if you’ll use your passport as an identifying document, obviously it must be up to date. Passport renewal can take weeks.

On 11/9/2021, I got approved for a driver’s license, after three tries. I don’t know if it would have been a problem if I had not moved to a new state. On my first attempt to change to my new state’s license after moving, I brought in a certified copy of my birth certificate, a certified copy of my marriage license, my Social Security card, my former state’s driver’s license, and two proofs of my new address, like utility bills.

My dear parents, may they rest in peace, gave me four middle names besides my first name (at the time, Clara). One of my middle names was Katalin, and over the years people started calling me Cathy, a derivation of Katalin. So, though my birth certificate and my marriage license have Clara as my first name, and four middle names, all my other documents, including my Social Security card and my former state’s driver’s license, had Cathy as my first name. So, because, of the difference in first names, my application for a D.L. was rejected. I cannot remember how I got a driver’s license and SS card with the name Cathy and not Clara (I’m 66.).

My husband thought and thought, then said, “Forget the birth certificate, use your passport, which has your name as Cathy.” That’s how he had gotten his new D.L.

I applied for renewal of my passport, which had expired. I paid extra for expediting the passport renewal. Some weeks later, I received a valid updated passport with the name Cathy.

Soon after, I returned to the licensing bureau, using my passport as an identifying document instead of my birth certificate. Things were going well until they checked my passport number. The clerk said, “It doesn’t match up.” Turns out that it takes three to six weeks, or more, for new passport numbers to be downloaded into the license bureau’s database. So, no go, again. The clerk recommended that I “come back in three weeks”.

I was tempted to give up, but I then emailed the state capital licensing bureau. They confirmed that it takes three to six weeks for new passport numbers to be downloaded.

After waiting four weeks, I tried and succeeded in having the D.L. application approved, using the passport! What a relief! I was so amazed, I left my checkbook at the bureau and had to return to get it, thanks to an honest person who turned it in.

During this ordeal, I briefly contacted two lawyers (no fees paid) who weren’t a big help. One option was to have my name changed in court. But you must reside in my state for a year before you can legally change your name.

Other cases I’ve heard of: 1) a woman whose only name differences were Catie versus Katie. 2) A person whose name difference was Julie versus Julianna. That lady got results by writing to her U. S. Senator. 3) A woman who had either “Grace Mary” or “Mary Grace” (I have changed her names) on different documents.

So, if you’re planning to get a D.L., you may want to work on getting all your identifying documents to agree on the version of your name, or use a passport that is synchronized, if your birth certificate is not.

I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t had a passport!

If anyone has had a similar experience, or advice on hindsight, please share.

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