How to Get a Passport With A Felony Conviction?

If you have plans to travel overseas, you should apply for a passport way ahead of your trip. One reason to do so would be if you encounter problems, you can delay your trip plans until you can get a passport. For most people without a criminal record, the process can be flawless. However, for those who are convicted felons, the process can be complicated. Nevertheless, a convicted felon can still get a passport.

Who Is Not Eligible for a Passport?

Being convicted of a crime can have serious repercussions. One is getting a passport. The type of offense can make you ineligible to get a passport. Here are some reasons that will prevent from getting your traveling documents.

  • Felony drug convictions (International drug trafficking.)
  • Certain other drug convictions (Distribution of control substances)
  • Child support cases (Owing more than $5000 US)
  • Unpaid Federal taxes or loans
  • Being a minor who does not have parental consent to obtain a passport

Felony Drug Conviction

Under federal law 22 U.S.C. 2714, the US government will not issue a passport to anyone if convicted of a felony, federal or state drug offense while using a passport or crossing international boundaries during the commission of that crime. They would also revoke any existing passport in these cases. This disqualification is in effect throughout your imprisonment in jail, stay in a halfway house or parole.

Other Drug Convictions

If you are a convicted felon because of dealing or distribution of any control substances, your chance of getting a passport can be slim or none. The law about this type of conviction is kinder murky. Nonetheless, it may prevent you from traveling abroad if you are denied a passport. The US Secretary of State may disqualify you if you have a conviction of a misdemeanor state or federal drug charges, except in cases of misdemeanor drug charges that involve only a first offense possession of a controlled substance. Only the Secretary of State can grant exceptions in humanitarian circumstances.

Child Support Cases

If you have unpaid child support arrears over $5000, you will not be allowed to get a passport. Before you apply, make arrangements to pay it in its entirety or set up a payment plan. Once you can do either, only then will the US Department of Health and Human Services can remove your name from a list of outstanding arrears. An updated copy of the record is frequently sent to the US Department of State to verify who owes child support.

Unpaid Federal Taxes or Loans

Anyone who works legally in the US should be paying taxes to the government. If you failed to file your taxes and worst owes the Federal and State, you cannot get a passport. Also, if at some point you borrowed Federal loans to pay for your education and did not repay them back, you are likely to be denied getting a passport. To remove the denial, you must repay any outstanding balances to the IRS or loan providers by either setting up a payment plan or paying it off.


A minor under the age of 16 years cannot get a passport without the consent of both parents and guardians. A passport application requires both parents’ or guardians’ signatures and supporting documents before getting approval. If these documents are not part of the application, the application will be denied.

Getting a Passport for a Convicted Felon

A first-time applicant must complete Form DS-11: Application for a U.S. Passport online or in person at a Passport Agency or Passport Acceptance Facility. This form is used if you had a passport that has expired more than five years ago. To renew an expired passport less than 15 years old, complete Form DS-82. For a lost or stolen passport, complete Form DS-64. Be as honest as you can. Fill out the form entirely to avoid delays.

You must provide proof of citizenship which can be a certified copy of your birth certificate, a previous passport, naturalization certificate, and certificate of citizenship or a consular report of birth abroad. Provide a copy of your photo identification, such as a driver’s license, current school, or military ID card.

Take two passport pictures of yourself in front of a white background. The photos should be current, within six months of passport application, clearly show your face, and be about 2 inches in size. Take the photos, documents, and application form in person to your nearest passport acceptance agent.

Gather your official court documents to show you no longer on probation or parole. You may not need to show these documents, but you can save yourself quite a bit of time and aggravation if you need to present them.

What Happens to a Felon Passport?

A felon with a valid passport could have it taken away by the courts even if the passport was obtained before the crime was committed. If the passport was not confiscated, the Secretary of State could deem it invalid. The same will apply if child support is owed, unpaid Federal taxes, or outstanding Federal loans. Taking the passport away will discourage a felon from fleeing to a country that does not have extradition laws with the US.

Getting a U.S. passport is relatively easy for a convicted felon, so long as you do not have an international felony drug conviction. However, keep in mind that other countries may not accept your passport according to your status as a convicted felon.