When preparing for international travel, you'll need to apply for a passport well in advance of your intended departure date. Of course, you'll need to be able to prove U.S. citizenship. Some citizens will find, however, that criminal convictions, child support arrears, and other financial and legal troubles prevent them from obtaining a United States passport. Even age can be a problem. Minors under 16 years of age are ineligible to get a passport without parental consent.
Felony Drug Convictions
While not all felons are barred from applying for and receiving a passport, there are certain drug charges that can keep you from having your application approved. According to U.S. Code Classification Table 2714, if you are convicted of a drug-related felony or certain drug-related misdemeanors, you are ineligible to get a passport during the time you are incarcerated as well as during your court-mandated probation period, and can even have an extant passport taken away.
Child Support Cases
People who have unpaid child support arrears of over $2,500 are not eligible for a U.S. passport. Before you apply for a passport, you must make arrangements in the state where the child support is owed to make the payments; if you have questions about the process or about what is owed, you should contact the nearest child support enforcement agency. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services must remove your name from its list of outstanding arrears and give the U.S. Department of State an updated copy of the list.
Unpaid Federal Loans
If you become incarcerated while traveling abroad and accept financial assistance in the form of a loan from the U.S. government in order to be repatriated back into the country, you must repay the loan before you can get a passport. Similarly, if the government makes a loan to evacuate you and your family back to the U.S., you are required to pay the loan back before you can get a passport. The State Department can also refuse to issue a passport if you have an outstanding unpaid loan.
Minors Without Parental Consent
If you are a minor under 16 years of age and do not get the consent of both of your parents or your legal guardian, your passport application will be denied. In order to get a passport under the age of 16, you must apply in person with a valid form of I.D. with a parent or guardian. If both parents cannot be present, your parent who accompanies you must present evidence of sole custody or provide notarized written consent from the second parent. The third option is to have a third party stand in with a notarized written statement from both parents.
If the State Department decides that you are a real threat to national security or U.S. policy, you may be denied a passport. You will also be disqualified if you have been ruled legally incompetent, are subject to felony arrest or have been forbidden -- by court order, parole or probation -- from leaving the country. Also, your passport can be revoked -- and subsequent applications denied -- if you are found to have obtained a passport through fraudulent means or to have altered a passport. You can also be denied a passport if you owe large amounts of money to the Internal Revenue Service.