U.S. citizens or U.S. naturals can apply for a U.S. passport book or card, but the U.S. Department of State does not have to approve it. Being granted a passport and the privileges it entails are contingent upon certain conditions, and there are circumstances under which a U.S. passport book or card will be denied.
You must be a citizen of the United States to be granted a passport, so you must prove your citizenship or naturalization when applying for a passport book or card. For citizens born in the U.S., their original birth certificate or a certified copy satisfies this requirements. Others can provide a Certificate of Citizenship or Naturalization Certificate, or a certified copy of Consular Report of Birth Abroad. In addition, you will need to prove who you are with a government-issued photo ID: a driver's license issued by the state in which you are applying, a government or military ID or certificates of citizenship or naturalization with a recognizable photo, for example.
You must supply a photo of yourself to obtain a passport. The U.S. State Department requires a 2-by-2-inch photo taken within the past six months, featuring your full face with a neutral expression and white or off-white background. You cannot wear accessories, including glasses or a hat, in the photo. Large pharmacy chains, such as CVS and Walgreens, as well as large chain retailers such as Walmart and Target, can take and print photos within required guidelines for you. In addition, you will have to pay a fee. Check with the State Department for the current rates.
Requirements for Minors
A passport application for a minor child will be denied if the child does not appear in person with proper identification and proof of citizenship and the appropriate authorization and proof of identification documentation from both parents. Measures recently were implemented to try to prevent abducted children and those taken by noncustodial parents involved in custody disputes from being removed from the country. If both parents cannot appear with the child in person, the absent parent can provide notarized proof of consent via a form available through the State Department. Single parents or guardians with sole custody must provide documented proof.
Reasons for Denial
Several factors can prevent approval of a passport application, including:
- The applicant is in arrears on child support. The Secretary of Health and Human Services child support database is checked before the approval of any passport application.
- The applicant has been deemed incompetent by a court of law and/or committed to a mental institution by a court of law.
- The applicant has warrants for arrest or court orders or subpoenas on record requiring the applicant to remain in the U.S., including orders from the United States Armed Forces, or the applicant is on parole or probation and a condition of that parole or probation prohibits leaving the U.S. or the court’s jurisdiction. The Marshals Service WIN database is checked before a passport is issued.
- The applicant or the applicant’s family has received federal loans for: repatriation of the applicant and/or the applicant's family members from a foreign country, emergency medical attention, dietary supplements and/or evacuation of the applicant and/or the applicant's family from a foreign country to the United States.
- The applicant was denied a passport previously or had a passport revoked, unless the applicant can prove sufficient change of circumstances.
- The applicant is deemed to be a threat to national security of the United States.
- The applicant was arrested and convicted for either a felony or misdemeanor related to the manufacture, distribution, or possession of a controlled substance involving the use of a U.S. passport.
- A foreign country has requested the applicant be extradited, or if the U.S. Department of State is advised the applicant has a warrant out for arrest for a felony in another country.