Can a felon get a US passport?

Generally speaking, if you are a US citizen, you are allowed to get a passport because you are free to depart and return to your country. But obtaining a passport is not a right, but a privilege and the government may deny you this document for some reasons. One of them may be unpaid child support or taxes, other – being a minor who does not have a parental consent to have travelling documents.

And there are also two more cases. Both apply to felonies.

Can a felon get a US passport?

I am a convicted felon – can I get a passport and travel?

It depends on the type of felony you have committed. Most felons and ex felons can get a passport. Only being convicted of a crime has serious repercussions. And even if you manage to get your passport, it does not mean that you will be able to travel everywhere you wish. A lot of countries refuse to let convicted criminals enter their country for public safety and political reasons.

So, if you figure in the crime register, you may have problems with obtaining a visa to some countries. Each time you want to go overseas, check the list of countries that don’t allow felons to cross their borders and felony friendly countries.

You can get a american passport with a felony unless…

you convicted one of following felonies:

  • international drug trafficking
  • distribution of drugs and/or control substances

Felony drug convictions are a significant obstacle to getting a passport. These two types of offense probably will make you ineligible to get a passport. 

If you crossed an international border while drug trafficking and was arrested and convicted for it, you will not get a passport for sure.Now you know who cannot get a passport. Nevertheless, conviction for possession of a controlled substance cannot serve as a basis for denial.

Felons and passports

As you can see, a person with a felony conviction is not automatically disqualified from getting a U.S. passport. Denial may be caused only by certain drug convictions as indicated above. If you are a convicted felon and you want to travel overseas, as the first step make sure that you have no criminal record with international drug trafficking and distribution of control substances. If not, you can apply for your traveling documents.

Are there any felons friendly states?

No. This is a federal law of  the US government not to issue a passport to anyone if convicted of a felony, federal or state drug offense while using a passport or crossing international boundaries during the commission of that crime.

Where a felon can obtain a US passport?

Like every other citizen he or she should complete an application form online or in person at a Passport Agency or Passport Acceptance Facility. The same rule applies if you want to renew an expired passport or replace a stolen or lost one. 

Which documents are required from a felon to get a US passport?

Like everybody else, you must provide following documents:

  • proof of citizenship which can be a certified copy of your birth certificate
  • a previous passport
  • naturalization certificate and certificate of citizenship or a consular report of birth abroad 
  • court documents to show you no longer on probation or parole (you can not get a passport on probation or parole)
  • two passport photos.

Remember that a US passport photo must meet specific requirements to be accepted. 

You do not need to go to a professional photographic studio, instead you may take a picture of yourself at home using a passport online photo tool.

Confiscation – can a felon get a passport back?

The court can take away a valid passport of a person suspected in a crime case event if it was obtained before the crime had been committed. The Secretary of State can also cancel a passport even if it is not confiscated to discourage a felon from fleeing to a country that does not have extradition laws with the US. In such a case you cannot apply for a new passport till the end of criminal proceedings.

As long as you are not convicted for an international drug trafficking and/or drug distribution, you have the right to apply for a new document after punishment. However, it doesn’t mean that other countries will automatically accept your passport knowing your status as a convicted felon.