Reasons You Have a Passport Application Declined

Criminal behavior can prevent a U.S. citizen from obtaining a passport.
Criminal behavior can prevent a U.S. citizen from obtaining a passport. (Image: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

The United States government issues passports, required for almost all international travel. If all documents are in order most people should have no problem obtaining a U.S. passport by applying at passport agencies or in some instances, your local post office which may also accept passport applications (only certain ones do). CFR Section 55 and 22 outline instances in which a passport can be denied.

Criminal Reasons

The U.S. Department of State can deny an applicant a passport for a number of criminal violations. Any applicant that has an outstanding warrant or arrest, federal, state or local, can be denied a passport. A federal subpoena or an application for extradition or provisional arrest requested by a foreign county is also grounds for denial. A special set of provisions govern denials for applicants convicted of drug offenses. Applicants convicted of any state law regarding the manufacture, distribution or possession of a controlled substance or any federal law regarding drug trafficking and money laundering can be denied a passport.


A parent applying for a child may be denied if the child is included on the list of the Child Passport Issuance Alert Program. The program is meant to prevent international parent abduction and the list is crossed checked with the passport application of all minors. Persons owing back child support can also be denied a passport. The minimum amount of back child support triggering a passport denial varies by state and ranges from $2,000 to $5,000. Minors under the age of 18 are issued a passport if they have parental consent, they are legally married or they are in the U.S. military. Minors without parental consent or that do not fall under the special circumstances will be denied a passport.


The State Department has a mandate to provide assistance to destitute nationals abroad in problematic situations including repatriation or evacuation, the need for medical attention, incarceration and other emergency situations. The State Department may pay for medical procedures, emergency transport or simply provide a loan. Applicants who have previously received this type of loan from the U.S. government may be denied a passport if they have defaulted on the loan payments.

Health Reasons

The U.S. Department of State may refuse to issue a passport for health reasons. If a U.S. court has deemed a person incompetent or ordered the person to be committed into a mental institution they can be denied a passport. The only exception for a mental health denial is if the person is accompanied by a guardian or another person responsible for their custody and well-being.

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