Can a Felon Get a Passport?

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Acquiring a passport as a US citizen is one of the many privileges you can enjoy. However, not every US citizen has the right to enjoy this privilege - especially felons.

Depending on the circumstances, felons may be denied a passport. It sounds complex, but I promise you that it’s not.

Don’t worry; this guide will answer the question “can a felon get a passport?” in detail. That way, you’ll clearly understand why you or your felon friend/family was denied a passport.

Can a Convicted Felon Get a Passport?

Yes, a felon can get a passport if they fulfill certain conditions. However, it depends on your type of felony charge.

Two federal US codes describe the circumstance prohibiting a felon from getting a passport.

According to the first code, a felon cannot get a US passport if they were convicted of a felony of international drug trafficking. The code further specifies that a drug trafficking felon would be denied a passport if they used a US passport in drug trafficking or crossed an international border during the offense.

The second code highlights that individuals convicted of human trafficking, especially minors, across international borders for sex trade would be refused a passport.

If your type of felony charge does not fall under any of the above two categories, you may likely get a passport. The real issue for you will not be about getting a passport but traveling internationally. This is because most countries prohibit felons from anywhere in the world into their country.

Their reasons are linked to politics and safety. While some countries would open their arm wide to US felons, you might have to keep them from finding out that you’re a felon. Otherwise, they might kick you out. So, you’re restricted.

How Felony Affects Passport Acquisition

Felony affects obtaining a passport in diverse ways. Regardless of the nature of your felony, felons generally might struggle with getting a passport for a while.

For instance, a person charged with a fourth-degree felony may be denied a passport under certain circumstances.

If they are still under probation, it will be difficult for them to get a passport unless they get permission from their probation officer. But after their probation, they can get a US passport.

Another way felony affects passport acquisition is if the government has issued a court order for a travel ban. In that case, you would be denied a passport.

So, until the government takes off the ban, you would most likely be denied a passport. Likewise, you'd be declined if you have a warrant for your arrest and attempt to get a passport. It would be assumed that you are trying to flee the country.

That’s not all. The United States has every right to decline felons who have completed their sentences a passport in some circumstances. First, if you are in huge financial debt or owe federal taxes, you won’t get a passport until it is cleared.

Those who are supposed to take care of a child and provide child support but fail at it would also be denied.

However, if you’re a felon and none of the preceding situations apply to you, there’s a high chance that you’ll be given a US passport.

Generally, you’ll need your passport to travel out of the country - even if you’re going on a short trip.

Once you get a passport, you may not have difficulty getting into a foreign country if you are going on a short trip, as there’s no place on a passport that questions if you are a felon.

However, you’ll need a visa for longer stays in a foreign country. Now, that’s where the problem comes in.

Before you can get a visa, a background check will likely be carried out. Most foreign countries will likely deny your travel visa application if your felony record is found in the process.

Felony Charges You Can’t Get a Passport With

People with felony charges can get a passport if their felonies do not look like the ones I’ll highlight below:

  • Distributing Hard or Controlled Substances: If you’re guilty of distributing hard or controlled substances and convicted of it, you may be denied a passport. However, if you are a first-time offender with a clean record, you still have a shot at obtaining a US passport.

  • Drug or Human Trafficking. People convicted of drug or human trafficking are ineligible for a passport. As long as they went across international borders while trafficking drugs, they would be denied a passport.

    The reason is that the United States government would believe they used their passport to traffic drugs across international borders. So, the best line of action is to take away that privilege.

Sometimes, you don’t have to be a felon to be denied a passport. Certain circumstances could make the state decline your passport.

A good instance is if you have a financial debt or owe a government loan/taxes. You may not be a felon, but you will not be granted a passport. But that does not mean you won’t be granted a passport if you owe student loans - this type of government loan is not a cause for passport denial.

Being a minor is another reason you’ll be denied a passport. You need the consent of your parents to get a passport.

Another situation that is unrelated to a felony charge that might lead to passport denial is child support. If you failed to pay what you owe on child support, the state may take your privilege of getting a passport.

Can You Get a Passport if You Have a Felony? All You Should Know

Let’s start with where to get a US passport. As a felon, you may think there’s a different procedure to get a passport. That’s false. The process of obtaining a passport as a felon is similar to how other people get theirs.

You can either apply online or go to the United States passport acceptance facility or the agency closest to you to apply.

You must fill out the form DS-11 if your passport expired more than 15 years ago. The DS-64 application form is the one to fill out for misplaced or stolen passports. Meanwhile, form-82 is for renewal.

You will need to take some documents with you when applying. Some of the documents you have to provide include:

  • A copy of an identification card. Some cards you can use include a driver’s license, military ID, or school ID (current one), amongst others.
  • A document that proves your citizenship. This could be anything from your naturalization certificate, birth certificate, citizenship certificate, consular report of birth abroad, or your previously expired passport.
  • Two passport photographs (not more than 6 months old) with a white background. Ensure the passport is 2 inches.
  • To save time, add an official court document that proves you are done with probation or parole.

Voila! You’re ready for a new passport.

Is It Possible for a Felon to Get Their Confiscated Passport Back?

When an individual becomes a suspect in a criminal case, the court can collect their passport. The reason is to make it difficult for the suspect to flee the country until the proceedings come to an end.

Similarly, the Secretary of State could invalidate your US passport so you won’t flee the country. When any of this happens, it would be difficult to get your passport back.

However, you can apply for a new one after you’ve dutifully served your sentence. If you were placed on probation, you have to finish serving your probation to apply for a new passport.

But felons should know that depending on your type of felony charge, you may not get approved for a US passport.

FAQs: Can a Felon Get a Passport?

What Disqualifies You from Getting a Passport?

Some factors may disqualify you from getting a passport. For starters, if you are on probation or parole and you have been banned from leaving the country, you could be denied a passport. Other factors are; extradition request, federal warrant of arrest that’s valid and unsealed, amongst others.

Can Felons Travel Internationally?

Yes, felons can travel internationally. However, there could be some travel restrictions. For example, a felon may not be able to travel to some countries because of the felony charge on their record.

Where Can a Felon Obtain a US Passport?

If you’ve completed your probation or jail time and there’s no travel ban on you - mainly because of your felony crime; you can get a US passport like every other US citizen. Apply online or go directly to the US passport office.

What Felonies Can Prevent You from Getting a Passport?

International drug trafficking or human trafficking are felonies that can prevent you from obtaining a passport.

Can a Felon Have Their Passport Confiscated?

A felon can have their passport revoked by the court under certain circumstances. For instance, if you are a suspect in a criminal case, the court could revoke your passport because of flight risk.

Conclusion: Can a Felon Get a Passport?

Can a Felon get a passport? The short answer is yes. But as demonstrated in this guide, certain circumstances might prevent you from getting a passport.

For starters, the type of felon in question, a specific court order prohibiting you from traveling internationally, can prevent a felon from getting a US passport. Nevertheless, you may be able to get a passport if you’re in the clear as a felon.


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  • " Can a Felon Get a Passport?". Legal Explanations. Accessed on July 18, 2024.

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