Every passport has an expiration date, and after that date has passed, the passport is useless, right? Wrong. A canceled or expired passport still has your photo on it along with your name, date of birth, and other identifying information. Although you can't use it to get through TSA and take a flight to Paris, it may still serve as an identification card for you in some states. Whether it be for a marriage certificate or divorce decree, valid photo ID is required and an old passport, for some government agencies, may work.

Expiration of a U.S. Passport

You have to jump through so many hoops to get a U.S. passport that it can feel strange that it expires without any bells and whistles whatsoever. The passport application isn't exactly concise, and you need to support it with a specific type of photo as well as evidence proving your identity and your citizenship. Even to renew your passport by mail you need an application, a new photo and a new fee.

Then, suddenly, 10 years later, the passport slips into invalidity. You don't get an email notification or a letter or a phone call. When the expiration date arrives, the passport simply can't be used as an identity verification travel document for foreign travel anymore.

Expired Passport as ID

Your expired passport won't get you across the border, but it can usually be used as an identification document. It's always considered the best form of ID for a new passport renewal application, for instance. When you apply for a first passport, you must provide evidence establishing your identity and also have to prove that you're a U.S. citizen. By providing an expired passport, you establish both. If, on the other hand, you have lost your passport card, you must once again search for government issued photo ID and your certified birth certificate. For those who have obtained U.S. citizenship since birth, a certificate of citizenship or certificate of naturalization are required as proof of citizenship in addition to the unexpired form of photo identification and birth certificate. Keep in mind that green card or permanent resident card holders often cannot be issued a passport, a valid passport must still be used for international travel, this will usually be a foreign passport issued by the country previously resided in.

Passport renewal is only one of the instances when you can use your old passport as a form of identification. If you wish to get an affidavit or other legal document notarized, for example, the notary will require photo ID such as a driver's license, U.S. military ID, or other photo proof of identity . Many states specify in their laws what kinds of expired documents can be accepted by notaries in these circumstances, keep in mind state-issued rules surrounding real id also when selecting which photo ID card to present.

State Laws on Expired Passports

Notaries follow state laws on whether an expired document can be used for identification. Quite a few states have adopted the Revised Uniform Law On Notarial Acts that deals with the issue. Under the act, an ID, including a passport, can be accepted for a notarization up to three years after it has expired. These states include Oregon, Montana, Iowa, North Dakota and West Virginia. That means that in those states, you can use an expired passport as identification for the three years after it expires.

However, some other states, like California and Florida, base the rule about using an expired ID on the date the expired ID was issued. This usually rules out using an expired passport. For example, in both California and Florida, an expired document may be used for identification for a notary acknowledgment if it was issued within five years of the date of notarization. This is unlikely to be the case with an expired passport since even a child's passport is valid for five years from the date of issue and an adult's for 10 years.

More information and faqs on passports can be found on the U.S. Department of State website (travel.state.gov) such as examples of valid ID, questions about certified copies of documents