Can a Felon Get a Passport? Follow these Simple Steps

passportA passport is a necessary document for any individual wishing to travel outside the United States. Passport eligibility questions offer surround international travel. Can a felon get a passport? After all, all rights are not automatically handed back to people who have served prison time. A prison record can be a difficult thing to overcome.

There are a variety of factors involved when answering the question “Can a felon get a passport?” Assuming you have not been imprisoned for an act of treason, you need to answer the following questions:

What type of felony were you imprisoned for? 

If drug trafficking is involved then chances are the State Department is not going to let you travel across international waters. If your crime involved national security or was an international crime then you don’t need to know the answer to how can a felon get a passport because you will probably be denied.

Are you on parole or probation?

If the answer is yes, then you will not be allowed to travel outside the country without permission. In fact, you are probably forbidden to do so.

In reality, the passport is just identification. Numerous countries have agreed to use it as ID for travel between countries. It has nothing to do with whether you committed a crime. But just because you have a passport doesn’t mean you can travel to any country you wish. In fact, if the answer to “Can a felon get a passport” is yes, there is still another hurdle.

Not all countries will allow you to enter if you have a criminal history. You must research the specific country you wish to visit to find out their laws. You also want to make sure you will be allowed to re-enter the United States after your trip is completed.

How can a felon get a passport?

Let’s examine the steps involved in applying for a passport.

Step 1: Obtain a passport application. Find a passport acceptance facility. You can search by zip code or city and state. You must apply in person if this is the first passport over the age of 18 or if your previous passport was lost, stolen, or damaged.

Step 2: Fill out Form DS-11: Application for a U.S. Passport online or by hand.  Don’t sign it yet because it must be signed in the presence of an Acceptance Agent. Don’t forget your Social Security Number because it will delay the acceptance process.

Step 3: Bring proof that you a U.S. citizen.  Photocopy the front and back of your ID. You can bring your driver’s license or Government ID. Military ID is also accepted.

Step 5: Pay Passport Fee

Step 6: Bring one passport photo. Do not attach it to the form.

Passport Photo Assistance

You can take your own passport photo as long as you follow the guidelines provided by the federal government.  You can find examples of acceptable photos at the U.S. Department of State website. You need two copies. How can a felon get a passport photo?

There are general requirements:

  • The picture cannot be black and white. It must be a color photo.
  • Don’t skimp on the printer paper because it is essential that it be printed on photo quality paper, 2×2 inches.
  • Don’t use an old photo because it needs to have been taken within the past 6 months.
  • The picture needs to be taken with a white background.
  • You must face the camera so that all of your face is in view.
  • Both eyes need to be open and no smiling allowed!
  • Wear clothing that represents your daily wardrobe. However, uniforms are not allowed.
  • No hats can be worn while taking the photo unless it is for religious reasons.
  • Remove headphones or earphones as they are not permitted in the picture.
  • If you usually wear glasses then wear them for the photo but if you wear contact lenses don’t bother putting on glasses instead.
  • No glare is allowed in the photo.

These may seem to be very specific instructions but they are very important. If you don’t follow the guidelines your photo will be rejected. That means holding up the review process while you get a new picture taken. It’s much easier to go to a passport photo location such as Walgreen’s or CVS and have them take the photo for you. That way you know that it will pass review because the photographers are very familiar with the requirements.

Routine delivery service of your new passport is usually between 4 and 6 weeks. Expedited shipping is available for an extra fee and included 2-3 week door-to-door service.

When you have finished applying you can Check Status Online about 5-7 days from the date of application.

The answer to “Can a felon get a passport?” is a resounding yes.


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