If you want to travel outside of your home country, getting a passport is an absolute must-have. Without it, you are unable to leave your departure port and will be denied entry to other countries.
To obtain a passport, you’ll first have to apply for one. There are several ways to apply for a passport, but the most common method is to process the application through the appropriate government agency (for example, in the United States it’s the US Dept. of State).
The reason that people choose third-party services to assist with their applications is that they are knowledgeable about the process and will make certain to submit accurate information that the government needs to issue a passport. Nevertheless, there may be several reasons as to why an application may be denied, no matter who files it.
Let’s take a look at the reasons why a passport application may be denied.
Reasons You May Be Denied Getting a Passport
1. Incomplete or Inadequate Information
Incomplete or inadequate information sent with the application is the most common reason for passport application denial. These errors in information can range from leaving a blank field in the application to personal information not matching an official document (like a birth certificate).
Always make sure to fill in the required areas precisely as instructed.
2. Applying With Fake or Inaccurate Information
Government passport agencies can detect any fraudulent claims; therefore, applying for a passport with fake or inaccurate information will result in a denied application. Your passport may be revoked (including any subsequent applications being denied) if it’s determined that you fraudulently obtained a passport or in any way altered a passport.
3. Not Meeting Passport Photo Guidelines
The picture you submit must also meet specific passport photo requirements on image size and the pose used. Therefore, it is quite common for applications to get rejected due to an invalid photo.
Certain parameters must be followed, such as the eyes being wide open and the picture being no older than six months. No accessories can be worn on your head that may cover your face up.
There are rules you may not expect too, such as not being able to smile naturally for the photo (a neutral expression is required). It is better to go to an approved passport photo vendor as they can tell you the do’s and don’ts of passport photos, and help you avoid any potential errors.
4. Having a Felony Drug Conviction
Another situation that can stop you from getting a passport is having an existing felony conviction. Although not all felons are prohibited from applying for and receiving a passport, there are specific drug-related convictions that can prevent the approval of your application.
Persons who are convicted of felony, state or federal drug offenses, and who use a passport while crossing international borders or while carrying out the crime, will be refused a passport from the US government. Any current passport that these individuals hold will also be revoked. This disqualification would apply during both during your incarceration and during your probation period.
You may have very little chance of obtaining a passport if you are a felon convicted for the distribution or dealing of any controlled substances. The law regarding this type of conviction can be a bit fuzzy, but even so, it may still prevent you from international travel if you are denied a passport.
Additionally, you may be disqualified by the US Secretary of State if you are convicted on federal or state misdemeanor drug charges. An exception for this can be made if the misdemeanor is a first-time offense for drug possession. However, only the Secretary of State can make exceptions for extenuating circumstances.
5. Owing Child Support
Outstanding child support totaling over $2,500 will need to be settled to be qualified for a passport. Prior to applying for a passport, you will need to arrange to make payments to the appropriate agency in the state where the child support is owed.
The state agency will then notify the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services that you’ve made acceptable payment arrangements, and your name will be removed from their register of outstanding arrears. This process could take 2-3 weeks.
The State Department will then verify that HHS has removed your name and will process your application normally. If you’re uncertain about the process or the amount owed, you should get in touch with the appropriate child support enforcement agency in your state.
6. Being a Minor Without Parental Consent
If you are 16 years of age or younger and do not have consent from one or both of your parents (or a legal guardian), then your application for a passport will be denied. For a person under the age of 16 to get a passport, they must apply in person with a parent or guardian and a valid form of I.D.
If only one parent is able to be present, that parent must show evidence of sole custody or provide a notarized written consent from the second parent. A third alternative is for a third party to stand in with a notarized written statement from both parents.
7. Incorrect Application Fee
Government fees must be paid in the correct amount. Insufficient payment for the application will result in instant rejection. You will then need to reapply, and you won’t get a refund for the partial payment on the first application.
Even overpaying your application fees can cause a delay in the application process, so make sure you pay the correct amount.
8. Owing Taxes
A passport may be revoked, denied or limited to people who owe large amounts of money to the IRS and travel internationally. This includes those seeking to apply for or renew their passports.
According to the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or FAST Act, the US State Department is required to deny passports from being issued to individuals who owe more than $51,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest to the IRS. Prior to being denied a passport, the State Dept. will place a hold on your passport application for a 90 day grace period in order for you to resolve your debt.
To remove the hold, you must do one of the following:
- Pay off your outstanding balance to the IRS.
- Arrange a payment plan with the IRS in order to pay the taxes you owe over time.
- Enter into an agreement with the IRS to pay a portion of the debt owed rather than the full amount.
- Arrange a settlement with the Justice Department to address the debt owed.
- Put in a request for innocent spouse relief.
- Request a due process hearing in connection with a levy to repay the amount owed.
Some additional reasons that you could be denied a passport include:
- The US Dept. of State designates you as a threat to national security or U.S. policy
- You have been found to be legally incompetent
- You are subject to felony arrest
- You are restricted from leaving the country (whether by parole, probation, or court order)
Additionally, your application can be denied due to problems with how you filled out the application. These can include using poor handwriting or even the wrong color ink (only black ink may be used).
Having a passport can be liberating and gives you access to the world. However, when applying for one, be mindful about the strict rules and how it can affect your application.
A denied application can be costly, with the passport agency not offering a refund on fees. As long as you follow the guidelines, then the chances are high your application will be approved.