How to Get a Passport With a Criminal Record

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A criminal conviction is not necessarily grounds for being denied a U.S. passport, though problems can arise when trying to enter other countries. Adequate research and planning are necessary before traveling, as many countries have policies regarding the admission of individuals convicted of very specific crimes.

Things You'll Need

  • DS-11: Application for a U.S. Passport
  • Social Security number
  • Primary evidence of U.S. citizenship (one of the following): previously issued, undamaged U.S. passport; certified birth certificate issued by the city, county or state; consular report of birth abroad or certification of birth; naturalization certificate; certificate of citizenship
  • 8 1/2-by-11 photocopy of primary evidence of U.S. citizenship
  • Applicable fees
  • Two passport-sized photos
  • Check your travel status. Anyone with travel restrictions due to probation, parole or any other such stipulations will have his application denied. The U.S. government does not ban outright the privilege of international travel for people with criminal convictions or a criminal history. As a matter of fact, the U.S. passport application doesn't inquire about an applicant's criminal history. Individuals with such a background must simply meet all the criteria everyone else has to--they must be U.S. citizens able to establish identity with the prescribed documents and pay the applicable fees.

  • Check the policy of your intended destination. While some countries do not require a visa, others do. Visa applications ask specific questions regarding criminal convictions and governments routinely deny admission to individuals based on the length of time that has lapsed since the conviction, as well the "seriousness" of the transgression.

  • Ensure that all required documents are accounted for and unexpired. Photocopies should be on plain, white 8 1/2-by-11-inch standard paper stock, showing the front and the back of your ID.

  • Fill out a DS-11 application. Do not sign.

  • Apply in person at an approved facility. Passport acceptance facilities generally include post offices and regional passport agencies. The U.S. Department of State offers an online passport-acceptance-facility search engine (see Resources).

Tips & Warnings

  • The best way to determine a country's policy is to contact the nation's consulate or embassy. The U.S. State Department has information regarding the embassy of every country. When making inquiries, there is no need to convey any personal information.
  • It is important to be truthful concerning a criminal record. Fingerprinting is common when entering and exiting countries and anyone who does not meet the country's admission requirements can be detained, deported or hit with serious fines.

References

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