What Can Stop You From Getting a Passport

By Leah Rendon; Updated June 08, 2017

Passport problems: Things that can cause your application to be denied

What Can Stop You From Getting a Passport

You’re dreaming of snorkeling in Australia's Great Barrier Reef, but what if you have problems getting a passport for your long-awaited adventure? The State Department may deny issuance of a passport due to a variety of legal and financial issues. If you fall into one of those categories, the best solution is to learn how to rectify the situation, giving you the chance to plan your vacation without lingering doubts or concerns.

True or false: Convicted felons or warrant recipients can’t receive passports.

This statement is somewhat true. While passport applications don’t dig into anyone’s criminal history, felons convicted of international drug trafficking or treason are prohibited from obtaining a passport or traveling abroad. Applicants may also get denied if they have a federal warrant out against them, have outstanding prison debts or are currently on parole or probation. In some instances, subjects of subpoenas in federal cases may be barred from receiving passports, as well.

True or false: You may be denied a passport if you owe alimony or child support.

True. If an applicant owes $2,500 or more in child or spousal support, she is not eligible to get a passport, but an existing passport is not revoked. Under the Passport Denial Program (PDP), the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) places the offender on a list and submits her name to the State Department , the agency in charge of issuing passports. Debts must be fully repaid to a state’s child support agency before the OCSE removes the applicant's name from the PDP. List removal may take up to two to three weeks. Travelers may be removed from the denial list if the applicant filed for bankruptcy protection, is the subject of a foreign government’s extradition request or has an immediate family member living abroad that is very ill or close to death.

True or false: You may be denied a passport if you owe back taxes.

True. Starting in December 2015, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST) allows the IRS to supply the State Department a list of people who owe federal back taxes. If the applicant has a large delinquent tax debt, defined as any amount over $50,000, his passport application may get denied. Travelers have 90 days to get back in good standing. Individuals who already settled their debt or have made repayment installment agreements with the IRS are exempt from the denial program.

True or false: You can’t get a passport if you have outstanding student loans.

False. Applicants will not be denied passports from the State Department even if they have outstanding or delinquent student loans. Travelers may encounter problems, however, if they have not repaid a loan to the government for the costs of providing emergency evacuation, medical or rescue services to the applicant in a foreign nation.

About the Author

Leah Rendon