Things that disqualify you from getting a passport

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What would you do if you didn’t have your passport? About a month ago, I lost mine. I knew that it was somewhere in my house, but beyond that, it could be anywhere. This was a significant cause for concern, especially since tickets to Costa Rica are so affordable right now. Even with the last year of limited travel due to the pandemic, knowing that my passport was available whenever I was ready to go was such a source of relief.

When I started to research how to replace a lost or stolen passport, I learned that there are actually certain things that can disqualify you from being eligible for a passport. Let’s take a closer look.

You might be ineligible for a passport according to the terms of your parole or if you’re behind on child support payments. (Photo by gchutka/iStock)

How to get a passport

First, it’s helpful to know how to get a passport, now that this process is completed mostly online.

Applying for your first passport

Those who are applying for their first passport or replacing one that was lost or stolen will need to apply in person at the passport office that is closest to you. Once there, you will fill out a DS-11 form and show proof of US citizenship and proof of identity. This can include one of the following documents: 

You will need to bring a black and white photocopy of your proof of citizenship.

Proof of identity can include:

  • In-state, fully valid driver’s license or enhanced driver’s license with photo
  • Certificate of Naturalization 
  • Certificate of Citizenship 
  • Government employee ID (city, county, state, or federal)
  • U.S. military or military dependent ID
  • Current (valid) foreign passport
  • Matricula Consular (Mexican Consular ID) – commonly used by a parent of a U.S. citizen child applicant
  • U.S. Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) – commonly used by a parent of a U.S. citizen child applicant
  • Trusted Traveler IDs (including valid Global Entry, FAST, SENTRI, and NEXUS cards)
  • Enhanced Tribal Cards and Native American tribal photo IDs

You will also need to provide a photo. Most passport offices will offer this service at an extra charge, or you can bring your own as long as it meets the requirements.

Replacing or renewing a passport

  • Replacing a lost or stolen passport: The process for replacing a passport that was lost or stolen follows the same steps as for those who are applying for a first-time passport. Be sure to file a report if your passport was stolen.
  • Renewing your existing passport: If you have your current passport on hand and just need to renew it, the good news is that you can do this online and through the mail, and won’t need to make an appointment to visit a passport office. Follow the steps to renew your passport here. This will require sending in your existing passport, so keep that in mind when booking travel plans. It can take some time to get your new passport back! 

Things to remember

  • Consider your timing: It can take up to 12 weeks to get your passport. Yikes, that is a long time! If you need to expedite the process, you can pay an additional $60 processing fee and expect to receive your passport back in 4 to 6 weeks. 
  • Track your passport: Keep track of your passport status online to see where it is in the process.

Reasons for denial Of U.S. passports

There are several scenarios that could result in your passport application being denied. Some of the most common reasons that a U.S. passport application would be rejected include: 

  • Terms of probation or parole: If a court has ordered that you are unable to leave the country as a term of your parole or probation, your passport application could be denied. 
  • Drug offences and convicted of felonies: Not all felonies will prevent you from receiving a passport. In fact, there’s currently only one felony charge that will. Felons who were convicted of international drug trafficking, specifically, those who are charged for bringing drugs over an international border, are not eligible to receive a passport. 
  • Neglecting child support: Those who neglect to pay child support are penalized when they attempt to apply for a passport. If you owe $2,500 or more in outstanding child support payments, you won’t be issued a passport. 

How to get a passport if you’ve previously been denied

In most cases, it is possible to get a passport if you’ve been denied in the past simply by correcting the reason that your passport application was rejected. 

  • Parole or probation: Once your term of parole or probation has ended, the State Department will be notified and at that time, you will be able to apply for a passport. 
  • If you owe child support: Contact your state agency to schedule payments before you start the passport application process. Once the agency makes arrangements for payment, they will alert the Department of State to remove your name from the list and you can apply for a passport. 
  • International drug felony conviction: Those who are convicted of an international drug-related felony will have the hardest time getting a passport. However, they might be able to qualify for a passport if a judge has issued an official pardon. 

Bottom Line

It might come as a surprise, but there are many different scenarios that could result in your passport application being denied. Most of these are fixable, either by paying a financial debt or waiting for the terms of your denied passport application to expire. The passport application process is relatively straightforward, but it is helpful to understand both how to apply and the reasons that your passport might be denied when you are looking to either renew or receive a new passport.

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Erin Lizzo is a contributor for Million Mile Secrets where she covers points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. Her work has also appeared in the Matador Network.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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