Can A Felon Get A Passport? Each Potential Scenario Explained In Small Details

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Can A Felon Get A Passport?

Traveling overseas comes with some rules and requirements in terms of documentation. It normally depends on where you need to go, as well as the reason. There are certain rules for work or residency, as well as different rules for a holiday trip.

On the other hand, based on your citizenship, some countries may require nothing but a form of identification. Some others may need a visa in advance. All in all, you need to research all these possibilities upfront, only to avoid wasting money and time.

While certain countries and partnerships allow going in with a national form of ID, the passport is by far the most common recommendation because it is an internationally recognized document. You need to have it in advance.

There are all sorts of problems and delays when applying for a passport, hence the necessity to apply for it way ahead of your trip. Most people without a criminal record will find the process fairly simple and straightforward – some forms and a few pictures, nothing else.

Convicted felons will find it more difficult. The process becomes much more complicated. Obviously, it depends on where you live – some countries make this venture more difficult than others. So, can a felon get a passport? Yes, but with extra work involved.

When it comes to the USA, most people have the misconception that a passport is an actual right. This is terribly wrong. The passport is an international document. It identifies you by your picture and name – it basically confirms that you are a citizen of the USA.

You can, however, get this document as a convicted felon, but there are plenty of extra requirements. Moreover, some individuals will be denied a passport based on the crimes they committed. Plus, authorities have the discretion to deny passports to pretty much everyone else.

A passport is not a right​

Again, getting a passport is not a right. Sure, some documents are given as they are. You are born, so you get a birth certificate. You do not need to do anything about it – there is no need for affirmative action from your side.

The passport is different. If you have ever applied for one, you know how complex these procedures can be. The initial application is the most difficult one, as you step into a new world. The documentation can be comprehensive – besides, you need to show up in person.

Then, you need to pay a fee, which is considerable too. The result will take a while too. Even if everything goes according to the book, you will still need to wait for a month or two before getting the passport. Indeed, you can pay more fees and get it done faster.

Based on this process, having a passport may seem like a right, but it is not. There are lots of reasons to get rejected – such as a poor-quality photo. Even if you get everything right, you can still face rejection. So, can a felon get a passport? What are the reasons to be rejected then?

Reasons behind automatic rejections

Getting a passport is sometimes a matter of being eligible. Apart from the standard rules – such as having citizenship, there are other things that could lead to instant rejection. A specific criminal history is one of them – certain crimes may not affect the result, but others will.

On the same note, particular financial circumstances could also make you ineligible. If you have such things on your record, your application will be automatically rejected, and it makes perfect sense – there are plenty of risks associated with the application, so the authorities try to prevent them.

So, can a felon get a passport? It depends. If someone has faced conviction of a felony for international drug crimes, the State Department is not legally allowed to issue the respective individual a passport – the rejection is automatic.

Basically, this kind of crime usually involves international drug trafficking. The convicted felon has most likely crossed the border while committing the crime – even if you have not, being part of such an operation has similar effects.

There are more reasons behind automatic rejections. For example, you are not eligible to get a passport if you owe at least $2,500 in back child support. Such problems will step in the process of your application, so there is no way you can get away with them.

Finally, owing the federal government money is also a reason to get rejected, yet it depends on why you owe this kind of money. If the issue is related to your repatriation or your family’s repatriation, you will need to clear your debt first.

There are more reasons wherefore you may end up in such a situation, such as ending up overseas without the financial resources to get back home. Issues could have other causes, though. If you ask the embassy or consulate to bring you home, this is considered a loan – you have to repay it first.

What the discretionary denial refers to

The State Department can deny passport applications in all kinds of circumstances. Generally speaking, the above-mentioned felonies lead to instant rejection, but then, other felonies may also cause similar problems. Reasons are quite diversified, but some of them are more popular than others.

The department can simply choose to reject a passport application if your criminal history includes a felony conviction. It does not necessarily have to be about international drug trafficking – any felony can get you in trouble.

On a different note, it makes perfect sense to face rejection if you deal with a felony arrest warrant or a court order that prevents you from leaving the country. Even if you are not planning to leave now, the disqualification makes sense – the authorities try to prevent all kinds of risks.

Other than that, requests for extradition from other countries may cause the same types of problems.

With no relation to felonies and convictions, the department is free to deny passport applications coming from those committed to mental institutions – the same goes for those judged incompetent. Minors will also face rejection if only one parent offers consent.

In any of these situations, it depends on who actually reviews the application.

Becoming familiar with the background-checked for passports

In order to understand how the department works in accepting or rejecting applications, you need to know what the authorities look into before making a final decision. While the whole process may seem smooth, rejection may occur when least expected.

Federal law comes first

The federal law can prevent the State Department from issuing a passport – simple as that. It may look like you meet all the requirements. You have all the documentation, and your application goes smoothly. Rejection can hit out of nowhere.

Again, think about not having the finances to get back home from another country. This is not a right associated with your citizenship. Instead, the government paying for your trip back home is basically a loan. You need to pay it back.

Since you are abroad, it makes perfect sense – you already have a passport. You may not be bothered about it right now. But at some point, you will have to renew it – this is when old problems will come back at you.

Child support arrears will also interfere with the application. Small amounts of money will not make the difference. However, if you owe around $2,500 or more, chances are you will face rejection in your passport application.

Discretionary refusal

The good news is the State Department is not really required to reject a passport application to someone with an outstanding arrest warrant – even if it is for a felony. However, the department can do it – it is a pretty high risk there.

It makes no difference who issues the arrest warrant – it could be a state court or a federal court.

It may also be a local authority or even a foreign government.

Now, the department can also reject an application if there is an order for you against leaving the country. It makes sense, even if your intentions are clear. You know that you are not guilty, and you will probably have no issues, so you prepare for your trip in advance.

The authorities do not know it, though. As long as there is an order to prevent you from leaving the country, applying for a passport looks a bit suspicious. There is a decent chance to be rejected as a safety measure.

Mental issues or extradition requirements from another country are likely to cause rejection too.

Considering the background checks

So, can a felon get a passport? It depends on all these factors. Submitting an application will not give you a result straight away. Even if your situation goes in the automatic rejection category, it does not mean that you will have an instant refusal.

The whole process will take about a month. The department will take around a month to check your background and ensure none of the above-mentioned situations are part of it. Some matters are not always visible on the record.

But generally, authorities will browse some detailed databases to reveal potential problems.

Passport requirements for convicted felons

You have made some mistakes, and you have done some time. You have learned from all these problems – lack of money, bad entourage, or other causes. But then, will these things chase you in the future? Chances are they will.

Can a felon get a passport? It is not impossible if you have a felony. Sure, the process is not as straightforward. There are some difficulties in the process, but many felon applications will still manage to stay eligible for a passport.

International drug trafficking is by far the most common felony that could prevent you from getting a passport. Other issues – such as loans and child support debt – will also cause problems, but they are not that harsh. Once you sort them out, there will be no issues – the felony will stay on your record though.

So, what kind of requirements do you need to pay attention to? If you cannot be bothered to wait for weeks and you need a passport quickly, you will need an application form for a new passport, as well as proof of citizenship.

Bring in a couple of passport pictures as well, not to mention identification documents.

Citizenship documents vary a little, so you can bring a naturalization or birth certificate.

Now, assuming you have all the required documents, you need to make a visit in person. Check the local post office or perhaps a passport facility – if there is one in the area. Submitting the application is not free – it will come with a small fee.

The same procedures apply if you renew a passport or you ask for a new one due to losing the previous.

What are the passport processing times?​

Officially, processing times change every now and then. They will most commonly take at least four weeks – up to a couple of months. You can, however, ask for fast track applications – they may get your passport within a couple of weeks only or even less than that.

When doing everything yourself, chances are you will be unable to rush the process. You can also hire a service providing help with applications – chances are someone with legal experience is aware of all the tricks and loopholes to beat the system.

How to prevent passport application delays

Passport application delays are not uncommon at all. They are not normally related to the State Department and the slow processing, but because of applicants making mistakes – innocent mistakes that may seem irrelevant at first.

For example, you need to ensure the application is fully complete. Double-check every aspect before submitting it, only to ensure you have not missed anything. It must be completed accurately, but also honestly.

Avoid taking those pictures yourself. Take them in an actual agency dealing with passport photos – or perhaps one of those photo booths. Just because you have some old pictures around, it does not mean that you can use them.

Make sure whatever you use for the application is new – not older than six months.

Once everything is submitted, the authorities will start reviewing one thing at a time to ensure there are no problems. You must provide your address on the application – if everything is right, you will get the passport in mail.

Can a felon get a passport?​

Can a felon get a passport? Yes, assuming the felony is not an automatic rejection one, such as international drug trafficking. But then, having a passport does not necessarily mean that you can travel freely anytime, anywhere.

It makes perfect sense – most countries will try to prevent convicted people from getting in. After all, they represent a risk from more points of view. Take George W. Bush, for example. He was caught driving under the influence in 1976, and he was deemed inadmissible by Canada.

Just because you do your time and you pay for your mistakes, it does not mean that you can still travel freely. Severe criminals will never be allowed in western countries – all the TV shows you see about such things are nothing but television. Such things do not happen.

The good news about the American passport is the fact that it is extremely powerful. Most countries will not require you to get a visa in advance. If you do need a visa, chances are you will get it as you enter the country – just a formality.

Most Americans have no clue how to apply for visas. After all, most countries do not require one for them. China and Russia are some of the largest countries that would require a visa. All in all, if you do not need a visa upfront, you will not have to go through any criminal record checks.

No matter where you go, chances are you will go through some random checks. A border agent will definitely grab your passport, look at you and take it through a device to check it against a few databases. Such databases do not always provide access to foreign criminal databases.

Some countries are quite strict in checks. They will ask questions about all sorts of criminal history offenses – dating back to your youth. They may not necessarily have too much data, but it pays off being honest about everything.

More and more countries turn to electronic travel authorizations these days. From some points of view, they work like visa applications. Countries like Canada, the USA, New Zealand, and some European countries have such requirements.

At this point, it is not about getting a passport as a felon, but being able to travel to a different country as a felon. For instance, Australia has a rule that bans people with a sentence of a year or more – whether served or not.

Problems associated with living abroad

Similar problems could occur if you are a felon and you want to live abroad. Sure, the felony is not that bad, and you have successfully managed to get your passport. Now, you want to live in another country for whatever reason. Is it that easy? Not really…

Try to see things like this. If a particular country does not want you there as a tourist because of your past, the same country clearly does not want you to live there on a full time basis. It makes perfect sense if you think about it.

From a more technical point of view, you can live as a perpetual traveler. This is not a lifestyle for everyone – you need a constant source of income. You can go from one country to another as a tourist – basically, you can live for months without a visa before moving on.

Most countries will not be bothered about their tourists’ criminal records anyway.

Everything changes if you want a residence permit. Most countries will ask for a criminal record from the home country before giving you a permit. Some of them will actually check and ask about things, while others will not care.

Whether you want to move to a developed country or a tax haven – including countries providing residence permits through investment, you will be asked about the criminal record. Authorities will ask all sorts of questions to determine if you are a felon.

Getting a felon passport confiscated or invalid

As a felon, you can have your passport taken away. Even if you obtained it before committing the crime, there are further consequences that may affect your possibility to travel. Most commonly, severe felonies – like international drug trafficking – will get the passport confiscated.

Sometimes, the passport is left, but it is deemed invalid. In other words, trying to go abroad will get you in trouble at the border. The same rule applies to other issues that may prevent you from getting a passport in the first place – child support problems, unpaid federal taxes, or federal loans.

You probably ask yourself – why such a big deal? It is fairly simple to understand. The authorities do not want you to escape to certain countries. Sure, many countries have extradition laws with the USA, but there are plenty of exceptions as well – the authorities do not want you there.


As a short final conclusion, can a felon get a passport? In theory, a felon can get a passport without too much trouble, as long as the felony is not international and related to drugs. Other felonies will not pose so many issues, but it is still worth double-checking everything upfront.

Now, just because you manage to get a passport, it does not mean that all your problems are over. Some countries may not accept your passport because of your status. Some of them accept particular felonies and ban others – each country is different.

The more developed a country is, the more restrictions you are likely to get.

The good news is that visiting as a tourist will not expose you to too many restrictions.
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In theory, a felon can get a passport without too much trouble, as long as the felony is not international and related to drugs. Other felonies will not pose so many issues, but it is still worth double-checking everything upfront.
I like that thu&¤#

Golden Fleece

Believe me there are tons of convicted felons even for the worst crimes who can and have easily obtained a second passport from a CBI country or something more illegitimate
Why wouldn't we believe you? They are convicted criminals, so of course they will do "something more illegitimate." That's what criminals do. lol. rof/%

Just be sure to stay away from such CBI programs. Such programs will eventually attract unwanted attention. Just look at all the current EU scrutiny of the Vanuatu CBI program.

Marc Rich

Active Member
Why wouldn't we believe you? They are convicted criminals, so of course they will do "something more illegitimate." That's what criminals do. lol. rof/%
I mean to point out that they have obtained them in a clean, legal way bypassing the due diligence that would have rejected them otherwise.
Just be sure to stay away from such CBI programs. Such programs will eventually attract unwanted attention. Just look at all the current EU scrutiny of the Vanuatu CBI program.
There are many reasons for clients to want a 2nd passport, more often than not for legitimate reasons. Vanuatu was usually the country that did fly under the radar as everyone knew Caribbean but nobody knew Vanu-what?

However, lately Vanuatu has been thrust into the spotlight albeit a bad one. From the start all the bad press was in fact sponsored by ********, but my self being very involved and maintaining a very close relationship with the Vanuatu authorities for many years, I cant say that this isn't their own doing. They had many chances to clean up over the years, and now they must face the music. The Caribbeans are also a ticking time bomb mainly Dominica & St Kitts - question is not if they will blow but when.

Vanuatu I am sure will come back with a stronger DD process, and address all concerns laid out by EU. There is even a chance they will be able to address all said issues before May and have the suspension lifted. As I said in another thread, this is a suspension not a cancellation meaning there is way for this to be removed.

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