If you intend to travel abroad, you should apply for a passport well in advance of your trip. One benefit of doing so is that if you run into complications, you can postpone your trip until you can obtain a passport. The process can be perfect for most people who do not have a criminal background. However, the process might be hard for convicted felons. Nonetheless, a convicted felon can obtain a passport.

Can a Convicted Felon Get a Passport?

The answer isn’t as straightforward as a yes or no. While some countries will refuse entry to anyone with a felony conviction, many are more tolerant. In general, felons must acquire a waiver from the country they intend to visit before being awarded a passport.

The waiver process might be time-consuming and costly, but it is typically worthwhile for the opportunity to travel overseas. So, if you’re asking, “Can a felon acquire a passport?” the answer is yes – but it could require a little more effort.

How does a Felony Charge Affect the Ability to Get a Passport?

A passport is required for travel outside of the United States. If a person has a felony conviction in Tennessee, it may affect his or her ability to obtain a passport, which is required to leave the nation. It is crucial to note, however, that a felony conviction does not disqualify everyone from obtaining a passport. So, before booking a vacation to a foreign nation, one should study the rules.

Who is Eligible for a Passport and Who is Not?

According to USA Today, most felons may obtain a passport with ease. This assumes the individual is not currently on trial, on probation or parole, or otherwise barred from leaving the country. Certain convictions will revoke a person’s permission to leave the nation and obtain a passport, while others will prevent them from obtaining one.

If a person is convicted of conviction trafficking across national lines, he or she will be denied a passport. It is also not permitted for anyone who owes more than $2,500 in unpaid child support or government loans. Treason convictions, according to Help for Felons, also disqualify a person from obtaining this passport.

What Other Factors Should You Consider When Traveling Abroad?

There is no question about a criminal past on the passport application, but one thing to remember is that a passport is simply a kind of international identification. It permits a person to return to the United States but not to enter another country.

Most nations will accept your passport as proof of entry for brief visits. However, if a person wants to stay for an extended period of time or enter certain countries, he or she will also require a visa. Obtaining a visa does necessitate a criminal background check, which may preclude a person from traveling to certain countries if he or she has a felony conviction.

Traveling outside of the United States is a rewarding experience. However, travel restrictions may apply if you have a felony conviction. Some offenses, such as DUI, may also be subject to travel restrictions to Canada or other countries. Most convicted felons can easily obtain a passport. However, visiting other countries may be more difficult due to restrictions and prohibitions imposed by the governments of those countries.

Other factors that preclude you from obtaining a passport include:

#1. Having unpaid child support.

If you owe back child support, you may be prevented from obtaining a passport. In some instances, your passport may be revoked. To apply for a passport after being in arrears, you must either set up a payment plan or pay the total sum outstanding.

#2. Owing money on loans or federal taxes

If you do not file or pay your taxes, or if you do not pay your federal loans, you will be unable to obtain a passport unless you pay the IRS or your lender the outstanding balance or set up a payment plan.

#3. Being a child.

You cannot obtain a passport if you are under the age of 16. You will need your parents’ or guardians’ permission because the application will require both parties’ signatures and accompanying documentation.

#4. Being unable to travel.

In rare situations, convicted felons may face a court order prohibiting them from traveling overseas.

Serving time in prison for a federal or state offense After being convicted of a crime, the court may confiscate your passport, cancel a current application, or prevent you from applying for a passport until your case is resolved or your sentence is served.

Obtaining a Passport as a Convicted felon

If you are not ineligible to receive a passport, you can apply for one (or renew your passport) just like everyone else (i.e. by applying in-person or online at a passport office). To complete your application, you will need the following documents:

  • Two passport photographs (that adhere to the government requirements)
  • Court paperwork demonstrating that you are not on probation or parole
  • Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship (or a consular report of birth abroad)
  • Documents proving your identification (i.e. a birth certificate)

What Happens to a Convicted felon’s Passport?

A felon holding a valid passport may have it revoked by the courts, even if the passport was obtained before to the crime. If the passport is not confiscated, the Secretary of State has the authority to declare it invalid. The same is true whether there is overdue child support, unpaid federal taxes, or outstanding federal loans. Taking away a felon’s passport will deter him from fleeing to a country that does not have extradition regulations with the US.

Can a felon get their passport back after it has been confiscated?

A valid passport of a person accused in a criminal case can be seized by the court, even if it was obtained before the offense was committed. To dissuade a felon from escaping to a nation that does not have extradition treaties with the United States, the Secretary of State can cancel a passport even if it is not confiscated. In such a circumstance, you cannot apply for a new passport until the criminal processes are completed.

You have the right to apply for a new document after serving your sentence if you have not been convicted of a crime involving international drug trafficking and/or drug distribution. However, because you are a convicted felon, not every foreign country will automatically accept your passport.

Read Also: Best Places To Travel Without A Passport In 2022

Where Can a Convicted Felon Get a US Passport?

You must, like every other citizen, fill out an application form online or in person at one of the United States passport offices, such as a Passport Agency or Passport Acceptance Facility. The same rules apply whether you want to renew an expired passport or replace one that has been stolen or misplaced.

Which documentation must a felon provide in order to obtain a US passport?

You, like everyone else, must submit the following documents:

  • Documentation proving your identity, such as a birth certificate;
  • a valid passport;
  • Naturalization and citizenship certificates, or a consular report of birth abroad;
  • Court documentation proving that you are no longer on probation or parole (you cannot obtain a passport while on probation or parole);
  • 2 (two) passport photographs

US Passport Photo

Remember that a US passport photo must meet certain specifications in order to be accepted by the government. The US Department of State establishes these guidelines, which address size, resolution, facial expression, background, head posture, and other factors.

Can Felons Travel Abroad?

Not all people convicted of a felony are barred from acquiring a passport to travel overseas. Some countries, however, do not allow felons to enter their country, including, but not limited to:

  • The United Kingdom (UK): Convicted felons can enter the United Kingdom if their sentence is “served,” which means it occurred more than ten years ago and the jail sentence did not exceed 30 months.
  • Canada: Even if you were convicted years ago, you must ask for special authorization to enter the nation if you are a convicted felon. You may be allowed to join after making a request if you are declared rehabilitated, which implies you are not currently involved in any criminal activity.
  • Australia: A convicted felon may be denied a visa if they have served a jail sentence of more than 12 months, if they were convicted of two or more offenses with cumulative sentences of more than 12 months, or if they have a suspended sentence.
  • European Union: The Member States Travelers can freely move between EU nations. So these countries will admit those with felony convictions if the penalty is less than three years. If the conviction was for a narcotics crime, the punishment could not be more than two years.


As you can see, not everyone with a felony past is immediately ineligible for a US passport. In the case of felonies and misdemeanors, your application may be denied solely if you have a drug-related background or owe more than $2,500 in child support. If you have a felony conviction and want to travel abroad, the first step is to ensure that you have no criminal record related to international drug trafficking or controlled substance distribution. Otherwise, you can apply for your travel documents.

Can a Felon Get a Passport FAQs

Can a felon get a U.S. passport?

Most felons can apply for a US passport without difficulty. Drug-related crimes are a substantial impediment to acquiring a passport.

What felonies can bar you from obtaining a passport?

According to federal law 22 U.S.C. 2714, drug-related crimes and some drug-related misdemeanors will disqualify you from receiving a U.S. passport.

Can convicted felons have their passport revoked?

If a person is a flight risk, has an outstanding felony arrest warrant, a court order that forbids them from leaving the country, or is a convicted international drug trafficker, the court may withdraw their passport.





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