Istock_000002913345small GENERAL PASSPORT FACTS

By federal statute, the Secretary of State of the United States may issue a passport only to a United States citizen or national. Every United States citizen is entitled to a U.S. passport provided that they, or an adult acting on a child’s behalf, comply with all applicable requirements, and that there is no statutory or regulatory reason to deny the passport. The United States issues a passport to each eligible applicant. [Generally see: 8 U.S.C. § 1401, et seq.; 22 U.S.C. § 211a, et seq.; 22 CFR, Parts 50, 51].

Acquisition of one country’s citizenship does not prevent the automatic acquisition of another, concurrent citizenship if the law of the other nation provides for such acquisition. Thus, many children acquire the citizenship of a non-U.S. citizen parent, and could potentially have a passport from both countries at the same time. Some countries, but not the United States, allow the inclusion of dependent children and/or a spouse in the passport of an adult.

A U.S. passport for an adult is valid for no longer than 10 years; a U.S. passport for a child under 16 is valid for no longer than 5 years.

U.S. passports may be applied for within the United States and at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad. Most passport applicants, and all children, must appear in person. Within the United States passport applications may be filed at passport agencies or at any of over 5,000 post offices, or clerks of court and other municipal offices designated to accept passport applications (information available at Passport applications for children under 14 must be filed in person by a parent or by an individual specifically authorized as a person in loco parentis . The application must be accompanied by documentation of the child’s U.S. citizenship, identity and compliance with the Two-Parent Consent Law (see below).

Although the U.S. does not require a passport to be used for travel between the United States and Western Hemisphere countries (except Cuba), many Western Hemisphere countries do require U.S. citizens to carry passports. The Department recommends U.S. citizens use their passport for all foreign travel.


A minor is defined for passport purposes as an unmarried person under the age of 18 years. 22 CFR 51.27.

Either parent, whether a U.S. citizen or not, may apply for the U.S. passport for their minor child. However, the Two Parent Consent Law, effective July 2, 2001, requires that, for a child under the age of 14, both parents must consent to issuance, or the applying parent must document his/her sole authority to obtain a passport for the child. Thus, before a passport is issued for such a child, Passport Services will require evidence of one of the following: sole custody, a court order allowing the parent to travel with the child; a written statement under penalty of perjury that the other parent agrees to issuance or is unavailable, a termination of the other parent’s parental rights, or compelling humanitarian reasons relating to the welfare of the child.

Grandparents may not apply for the passport of a grandchild unless they have a document of guardianship or written authority that complies with the Two-Parent Consent Law. Minors who are 14 years and older execute their own passport application with proper identification from a parent or responsible adult.


A state court has the authority to order a parent, possessing a child’s passport, to surrender the passport to the court or the court’s designee. Such an order is enforceable by the court’s authorities under its state’s law. The court may hold the passport as long as it deems necessary to reduce the likelihood of the removal of a minor child from the United States. In such a case, the action to withhold the passport should be reported to the Office of Children’s Issues (address below) to prevent unauthorized attempts to replace it. Questions about the possible value of passport revocation should be sent to the Office of Passport Policy and Advisory Services (address below).

At the request of either parent or his/her attorney, the Department of State will give effect to the intent of state civil court orders regarding a child’s custody and/or travel by denying a minor child’s passport when appropriate. See 22 CFR 51.27. A request for passport denial should be sent to the Office of Children’s Issues , (address below).

Moreover, independently, or in conjunction with a court proceeding, a parent or attorney may request the Office of Children’s Issues to place the child’s name in the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP) lookout system. Under this system, the Department of State will notify the requesting parent or attorney that a passport application is being filed for the child. In these cases, if the Department has on file a court order granting sole custody to one parent, or restricting the child’s travel, the passport would be denied. The address is:

U.S. Department of State
Office of Children”s Issues
Fourth Floor
2100 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20520

Phone: (202) 736-9124
Fax: (202) 736-9133

All requests must be in writing, and include the child’s full name, date of birth, place of birth, social security number, address, and phone number of the requester.

It is vitally important that parents with concerns about parental child abduction consider CPIAP as an abduction prevention measure. While Passport Services does its best to prevent it, we are aware that some would-be abducting parents have succeeded in evading the Two-Parent Consent Law by the presentation of misleading or false evidence. Once a passport has been issued, its recovery, and the recovery of the child, is extremely difficult.

Unless parental rights have been removed, either parent, with or without custody, can obtain information about his/her minor child’s passport status as part of a passport restriction request. Certified copies of a child’s passport application can be obtained from:

U.S. Department of State
Passport Services
Office of Research and Liaison, 5th Floor
1111 19th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20522-1705

Phone: (202) 955-0447
Fax: (202) 955-0288


Appropriate law enforcement agencies may place the name of an adult subject to a Federal Warrant for Parental Child Abduction or Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution, into the Department’s passport name check system. This action can assist in locating the fugitive, prevent future passport issuance to them or force their return to the United States from a foreign country. See 22 CFR 51.70 and 51.72. The office to contact for law enforcement assistance is:

Department of State
Passport Services
Office of Passport Policy and Advisory Services
Third Floor
2100 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Phone: (202) 663-2662
Washington, D.C. 20037 Fax: (202) 663-2654


Passport revocation has the same regulatory basis as passport restriction – 22 CFR 51.72. A passport may be revoked where the person obtained their passport fraudulently, the passport was issued in error, the person’s certificate of naturalization was cancelled by a federal court, or the person would not be entitled to a new passport under 22 CFR 51.70 (a) or (b). Please note that the physical revocation of a passport is often difficult.

To begin the revocation process, law enforcement officers should make a request, in writing, to the Office of Passport Policy & Advisory Services (address above) with the subjects name – including any aliases, date and place of birth, social security number, any known passport data, last known address, copies of any court orders or warrants, and the agent’s direct contact information.

Revocations are done in coordination with the Department of Justice and the requesting agency. A passport will not be revoked when the whereabouts of the bearer is unknown. When there is a passport “hit” on an individual within the United States, based on the request, the interested law enforcement agency will be informed of the person’s address so that an arrest can be made.

The requesting agency generally works with the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, the Department of State’s Office of Law Enforcement and Intelligence (L/LEI), the U.S. embassy and the foreign law enforcement establishment to effect the person’s return to the United States.

Often, when foreign law enforcement agencies are informed by the Department that the passport of a U.S. citizen in foreign custody has been revoked, they will deport the person under escort because of that person’s status as an undocumented alien. Thus, passport revocation (or the threat of passport revocation) is especially valuable when attempting to convince a parental kidnapper to return, with the child, to the United States.

When a subject is apprehended routinely and has a passport, the passport may be retained by the law enforcement agency for evidentiary purposes. However, when it is no longer needed for the law enforcement purpose and the person is still in custody or subject to a bond or parole, the passport must be returned to the Department of State, Office of Passport Policy and Advisory Services (address above).


Upon written request from the presiding judge in a domestic civil suit, passport information may be released to the court relating to a party who has been ordered to surrender their U.S. passport.

The Department of State will release information about the person’s current passport status to a requesting judge and will inform the judge if that person applies for a new passport. Passport issuance will not be denied based on the request, but the judge can invoke state civil contempt sanctions based on the information. If requested to do so by the court, issuance of the passport may be delayed for a minimal period of time – generally 10 days. This can be helpful to prevent a parent’s use of a passport in international child abduction when the judge has placed a passport restriction as a condition of visitation or other parental privilege.

Judges may request information about a party whom they have ordered to turn in their current passport by writing to the Office of Passport Policy and Advisory Services (address above). Please use the attached sample letter as guidance for drafting a passport information request, and provide all information requested.

Revised: March 2004


Sharon E. Palmer-Royston
Office of Passport Policy & Advisory Services
Third Floor
2100 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037

Case No: ______________________

( Caption )

Dear Ms. Palmer-Royston:

I am writing to request that _______________________, a party to the above captioned suit, be placed into the passport lookout database, and that you inform me if he /she applies for a new passport within the next year.

Mr./Ms. ___________________________________ has surrendered his/her

United States passport, number __________________, per order of this court.

Mr./Ms. __________________’s identifying information is as follows:

Date of Birth: _______________, Place of Birth: _________________________,

Social Security Number: ________________.

Should Mr./Ms. ___________________ apply for a new passport, please notify me or my clerk at the following telephone number and address:

(Address Line)
(Address Line)
(Address Line)
(Telephone No.)
(Fax No.)


_____________________, Judge


SOURCE: U.S. State Department