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Can I Obtain a Passport if I Have a Felony?


It’s safe to say that most Americans travel abroad at some point in their lives. Whether it’s a cruise, a European vacation, a trip across the border to our neighbors Canada or Mexico, or a honeymoon to some exotic tropical island, it’s an American pastime to travel overseas. And then you have those who travel for work, lots of people have to travel abroad for their jobs.

If you were convicted of a felony in the past, you may have had a lot of conditions imposed upon you. You may have been told not to contact the victims of your crime. You may have been told that you can’t leave the county or the state. You may have been prohibited from visiting certain places or contacting certain types of people with criminal backgrounds. So, now that you’ve completed your sentence, are you prohibited from obtaining a U.S. passport?

Most Felons Won’t Have a Problem

Federal law does stipulate under what conditions a U.S. citizen will be denied a U.S. passport. In most circumstances, a convicted felon will not have any issues obtaining a U.S. passport. This is because like driver licenses, passports are simply identification documents; they don’t contain people’s criminal record information. Instead, a U.S. passport states that you are a citizen of the United States as opposed to any other country.

Under federal law, U.S. citizens are barred from receiving passports under the following circumstances:

  • The person was convicted of drug trafficking and they went to another country to commit the crime.
  • The person is under a felony-related subpoena.
  • The person is under federal arrest.
  • The person has been forbidden to leave the country because of probation, parole, or court order.
  • The person is currently serving time in prison or under a federal release program that is designed for felons who have been convicted of certain drug crimes, such as possession or distribution.

All individuals who are in arrears of $2,500 or more in child support, whether they have criminal records or not, will be denied a U.S. passport. “If you owe $2,500 or more in child support, you are not eligible to receive a U.S. passport. Pay your child support arrears to the appropriate state child support enforcement agency before applying for your passport,” according to

Next: Traveling Abroad with a Criminal Record

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