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Can Felons Get Passports?

Updated on March 17, 2016

Losing Your Rights Due to a Felony Conviction

Being convicted of a felony in the USA will almost certainly result in losing many civil rights afforded to you by our constitution. The right to vote, bear arms, and even live in certain places can be taken away as soon as the judge bangs the gavel and pronounces you guilty. While you may have some hope of getting a portion of these rights back after a period of time, laws vary greatly from state to state so it's important to check with your state government regarding getting your rights back. If you are able to have your civil rights restored, you will regain the ability to vote, sit on a jury, and possibly own a firearm.

In this article we will explore passport requirements for convicted felons. Much of the information regarding passports for felons can be found at US Department of State website.

Passport Requirements for Felons

Thankfully, there is not a US Law preventing a convicted felon from getting a passport. There are however several restrictions that can possibly prevent you having your passport application approved.

If you were convicted of a minor felony such as multiple DUIs, burglary, etc., you probably have your passport application approved. Felony crimes that related to drug trafficking, treason, etc., are likely to result in an application denial. Below are the top reasons why a felon would have their passport application denied.

Reasons for Passport Denial

  • Felony Drug Convictions
  • Child Support Cases
  • Unpaid Federal Loans
  • Other Factors

Felony Drug Convictions

The US Dept. of Sate is unlikely to issue you a passport if you have a felony drug conviction such as trafficking, conspiracy to smuggle drugs, or similar. A simple drug possession conviction will generally not get your passport application denied but it might throw up a red flag which might delay the process. If you have been convicted of ANY international drug trafficking crimes you will never be able to obtain a passport.

Child Support Cases

If you are over $2500 in arrears on your child support you will not be eligible to receive a US passport. In order to overcome this can either pay your debt in full or make arrangements with the state for a payment plan.

Once you arrange a payment plan with the state, you will need to make sure the US Department of Health and Human Services removes your name from their delinquent list and have them provide an updated list to the US Department of State. Once this has been completed you are eligible to be issued a passport.

Delinquent Federal Loans

While it is unlikely that you have an unpaid federal loan, having one will prevent you from being issued a passport. Most of the time federal loans are incurred when you are arrested in a foreign country and government loans you money for legal defenses or to evacuate you.

Other Factors Preventing a Felon from Getting a Passport

While the above will definitely stop you from being issued a passport, the Dept. of State can deny your passport application for any reason they fit. If there is a question as to whether or not you are responsible enough to travel abroad, it's likely you will not be issued a passport.

Additionally, just because you are able to get a passport doesn't mean you will be able to enter every foreign country. Some countries will deny you entry if you have been convicted of certain crimes. Every country has different laws so be sure to do plenty of research prior to attempting to travel abroad when convicted of a felony. It would be a shame to make it all the way to your destination only to be denied access.

Where to Apply for a Passport

You can apply for a passport at most post offices, libraries, and any government passport agency hub. You can also apply with a private passport agency and most travel agents. If you have a felony conviction on your record it is important to apply for your passport at the earliest opportunity because you never know if you will need to provide additional documentation.

Also, it's important to apply for your passport in the state where your driver's license of ID card was issued. According to the folks at the Commerce City, CO passport office, applying for a passport in a different state than where your ID was issued can result in a big red flag and cause additional screening and possible delays.


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