Passport Denial and Revocation

The Rules and Regulations: Passport Denial and Revocation

One of the many rights granted by U.S. citizenship is the right to hold a U.S. passport. The U.S. passport allows U.S. citizens and nationals to lawfully travel internationally from and to the United States, and is a valid travel document for Americans to almost anywhere in the world. There are, however, circumstances under which an individual may be denied a passport, or have his/her passport revoked. It is important to understand the regulations around possible passport restrictions and revocation. Let’s take a look at who has the authority to issue and revoke passports, the process for verifying and revoking passports and some reasons why one’s passport request (or renewal) may be denied, or currently issued passport revoked.

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Who Has The Authority To Deny/Revoke My Passport?

The Department of State, via the U.S. Passport Passport Office of the Bureau of Consular Affairs, has the authority to issue, grant and verify passports (22 U.S. Code 211a) and has been also been authorized to establish rules concerning the issuance of passports (Executive Order No. 11295,31 Fed. Reg.10603). Any agency believing an individual’s passport to be obtained fraudulently or believing an individual is for any reason no longer legally eligible to possess his/her passport, such as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), must issue a written request to the Department of State for passport verification (Code of Federal Regulations 51.65(a)). In the case of an inquiry by the USCIS, which would pertain more to U.S. nationals and other non-citizens, the written request must contain the following information:


  1. The bearer’s complete biographic data – including known aliases.
  2. The bearer’s last known address.
  3. All unexpired U.S. passport and alien registration numbers.
  4. A photocopy of the biographical page of the U.S. passport when available.
  5. An analysis that includes a factual basis and reasons for requesting passport revocation, and explains why the individual is not entitled to bear a U.S. passport.
  6. Copies of all documentary evidence in support of the request, including certified translations of any documents written or originally prepared in a foreign language.

In any case, only after a written request has been submitted will the Department of State investigate the validity of a passport, and only the Department of State can send a letter of revocation to the passport bearer.

Reasons Passport Issuance Can Be Denied

  • Defaulting/Non-Payment on a repatriation loan or medical assistance loan
  • Being committed to a mental institution or declared incompetent by the courts
  • Having been subjected to a previous revocation or denial
  • Currently the subject of foreign extradition requests
  • Previously issued a temporary passport for certain reasons

Reasons A Passport May Be Revoked

The Department of State, in accordance with the Title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations 51.60-62, and 51.65, will revoke passports for the following reasons:

  •  Passport was obtained illegally or fraudulently
  •  Non-Payment of child support
  •  Passport was misused or changed/altered
  •  Passport holder’s Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of Citizenship is cancelled
  •  Certain drug trafficking convictions
  •  Those convicted of sex tourism

If your passport application is denied for any of the reasons listed above, the Passport Services office will hold your application for 90 days from the date on the denial letter. If your passport was denied due to a listed outstanding debt, the debt must be paid within the 90 day hold period in order to continue the processing of the current application; otherwise, the passport application will have to be resubmitted.

For more detailed information see “Passport Denials, Revocations and Restrictions” at