Is it Legal to Sell an Expired U.S. Passport?
You have renewed your old passport, which has been returned to you after being marked as expired. What do you do with this passed document? Many people keep their voided passports as souvenirs of their travels, but some individuals are interested in selling them. What is the legality of selling an expired U.S. passport?
First and foremost, the legal prohibitions on selling expired passports are not entirely clear. However, when considering whether or not to sell your expired U.S. passport, remember that such documents can be used for potentially illicit purposes.
Even an expired passport can be used to prove U.S. citizenship in many instances; while expired passports cannot be used to travel internationally, they are generally accepted as proof of identity on domestic flights.
U.S. Passport Remains the Property of the United States
Both of these reasons make selling a recently-expired U.S. passport potentially concerning to the government. Since U.S. law asserts that passports remain the property of the United States at all times and that the government can demand their return, consider that the government may exercise their rights if you attempt to sell a recently expired passport.
Furthermore, while not strictly a question of legality, the fact that expired U.S. passports remain important for proving identity means that they can be used for identity theft purposes. Generally speaking, if your passport is less than five years beyond the expiry date, you should consider it off-limits for sale.
However, long-expired passports do not face the same issues. “Obsolete” passports–often defined as those over 20 years out of date–are often sold, and the antique passport collecting community is robust. However, if in doubt, err on the side of caution. Rather than selling it, keep your old expired U.S. passport as a beautiful record of past travels.
Ultimately, selling an expired U.S. passport is a legal gray area, and caution should be exercised when considering such a sale. While the law may not explicitly prohibit it, there are risks associated with the sale of any personal document that could be used in identity theft or fraudulent activities. Furthermore, antique passports over 20 years out of date are often sold by collectors, but the best way to preserve your passport memories is to keep it as a souvenir of past travels.