7 FAM 1300

7 FAM 1310


(CT:CON-714;   06-26-2017)
(Office of Origin: CA/PPT/S/A)

7 fam 1311  Introduction

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a. This subchapter defines what a U.S. passport is, provides a general overview of the document, and introduces policies and procedures discussed in greater detail in the other subchapters and appendices of 7 FAM 1300, “Passport Services.”

b. What is a U.S. Passport?  A U.S. passport is a travel document issued under the authority of the U.S. Secretary of State attesting to the identity and nationality of the bearer.  8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(30) defines a passport as “any travel document issued by competent authority showing the bearer’s origin, identity, and nationality, if any, which is valid for the admission of the bearer into a foreign country.”

c.  The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) sets standards for the format of machine-readable travel documents.  Conformity with ICAO standards does not convey any legal status on a travel document.  It simply means that the document is readable by machines that conform to the ICAO standard.  ICAO does not have the authority to rule on whether a particular travel document will be acceptable in the United States or in other countries.  (See also 7 FAM 1300 Appendix O regarding documents issued by private persons or organizations that do not constitute a valid passport under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(30).)

NOTE:  The Department first issued:

·        Machine readable passports on January 1, 1983.

·        Photo-digitized passports in 2001.

·        Electronic passports (e-passports) on August 14, 2006.

·        Passport cards in July 2008.

d. The U.S. passport:

(1)  Establishes the identity of the bearer;

(2)  Identifies the bearer as a U.S. citizen or non-citizen U.S. national;

(3)  Is valid for travel to foreign countries and return to the United States;

(4)  Requests a foreign government to permit the bearer “to pass without delay or hindrance” and “in case of need to give all lawful local aid and protection”; and

(5)  Is evidence of the bearer’s eligibility to receive the protection and assistance of U.S. diplomatic and consular offices while overseas.

e. Who Has Authority to Issue U.S. Passports?  The U.S. Secretary of State is granted the authority to issue U.S. passports by 22 U.S.C. 211a.  The Secretary delegates this function to the Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA).

f.  Why is U.S. Passport Issuance Important?  The determination of U.S. citizenship/non-citizen U.S. nationality and the issuance of passports to U.S. citizens/non-citizen U.S. nationals are among the most visible and important public services carried out by the Department.  The passport adjudication and issuance processes fulfill three important Department goals:

(1)  To serve the interests of U.S. citizens/non-citizen U.S. nationals traveling internationally and facilitate their right to consular protection when they present the passport in a foreign country for entry;

(2)  To protect the integrity of the U.S. passport as proof of U.S. citizenship/non-citizen U.S. nationality and identity at home and abroad; and

(3)  To enhance U.S. border security.

g. Value of a U.S. Passport:  A U.S. passport is one of the most valuable travel and identity documents in the world because it identifies the bearer as a U.S. citizen/non-citizen U.S. national, and thereby may facilitate the bearer receiving the benefits associated with U.S. citizenship/non-citizen U.S. nationality, identity, and entitlement to a U.S. passport.  It is a highly secure document because of the security features embedded in the passport.  An intact, full validity, unexpired passport is acceptable as proof of United States citizenship/non-citizen U.S. nationality when issued to a U.S. citizen/non-citizen U.S. national (see 22 U.S.C. 2705).

h. Passport Agencies and Centers:  The Department issues millions of passports annually at its passport agencies and processing centers located throughout the United States.  (See travel.state.gov for the addresses of each agency and processing center.)  Passport applications are also accepted and adjudicated and passports issued at U.S. embassies and consulates (hereinafter referred to as "posts").

i.  Passport Acceptance Agents:  The passport agencies and centers are assisted by thousands of domestic passport application acceptance facilities as well as Department of Defense passport application acceptance facilities (see 7 FAM 1300 Appendix X, “Overseas DOD Special Issuance Passport Application Acceptance Program”) and consular agents.  These authorized facilities accept passport applications, but do not adjudicate citizenship, identity, or entitlement claims or issue passports.

j.  Issuance of passports for applications accepted overseas:  All full-validity passports issued to overseas applicants are printed at passport centers.  The data for overseas applications is transmitted to passport centers electronically, and the centers then return the printed passports to the adjudicating posts.  When necessary, consular officers at post issue Emergency Photo-Digitized Passports (EPDPs) for urgent travel, but such passports are usually valid for no more than one year (see 7 FAM 1360, “Overseas Passport Issuance Program”).  These emergency passports may be replaced with full validity passports if requested within one year from the date of issuance and all the requirements for issuance are met (see 7 FAM 1300 Appendix W, “Rewrites, Re-issues, Refiles, Replacements, and Re-entries of Passport Books and Passport Cards”).

k. 7 FAM 1300, “Passport Services.”  This chapter of the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) focuses on the decisions and issuance processes that Department personnel use in relation to passport work.  The objective is to provide all passport issuing officers with the information and standard guidance necessary to adjudicate a possible claim to U.S. citizenship/non-citizen U.S. nationality, identity, and entitlement to a U.S. passport.  The chapter also discusses the special requirements involved in adjudicating a passport application submitted on behalf of a minor.

l.  Acquisition and Loss of Nationality and Reports of Birth Abroad:  These subjects are addressed in-depth in other chapters of the 7 FAM:

(1)  7 FAM 1100, “Acquisition and Retention of U.S. Citizenship and Nationality;”

(2)  7 FAM 1200, “Loss and Restoration of U.S. Citizenship;” and

(3)  7 FAM 1440, “Consular Report of Birth of a U.S. Citizen/Non-Citizen National of the United States.”

7 FAM 1312  Scope and Applicability 

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a. The guidance provided in 7 FAM 1300 applies to all passport-issuing offices, including U.S. passport agencies/centers and passport processing centers; as well as posts.

b. Passport application acceptance agents, domestic and foreign Department of Defense passport application acceptance agents, consular agents, and passport acceptance agents for other federal agencies are not Department employees and do not adjudicate citizenship, identity, or entitlement claims, and therefore do not utilize the FAM for citizenship, identity, or entitlement guidance.  The Directorate of Passport Services (CA/PPT) publishes separate guidance for acceptance agents.

7 FAM 1312.1  Definitions

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This section contains important terms used in 7 FAM 1300.  The terms are used as defined below unless specified otherwise for a specific sub-chapter or appendix of 7 FAM 1300.

(1)  Accept: Acceptance of a Form DS-11, “Application for a U.S. Passport,” is the process by which a designated passport agent or acceptance agent (see 22 CFR 51.22):

(a)  Receives a passport application, all appropriate attachments and documentation, evidence of citizenship; and fees (if applicable) from the applicant;

(b)  Receives and compares the evidence of identity and the photograph to the applicant;

(c)  Administers the oath;

(d)  Witnesses the applicant’s signature; and

(e)  Performs a series of administrative actions listed in 7 FAM 1344.2 or the Passport Agent’s Reference Guide (for acceptance agents).

(2)  Adjudicate:  When a government (direct hire) employee makes a decision/formal judgment on a matter under consideration.  For purposes of this chapter, “adjudicate” refers to decisions made in relation to passport applications.

(3)  Attach:  To make a part of the passport file for scanning into PRISM.  For example, a photocopy of the applicant's ID is attached to the passport application.

(4)  Discretion:  Use of judgment based on knowledge, training, available tools, and experience to make a sound and reasonable decision within the bounds of law, regulation, and Department policy.  Use of discretion is frequently indicated when policy and procedures do not provide explicit directions specific to an adjudicative circumstance.

(5)  Emergency: An emergency is a time-sensitive circumstance when failure to issue a passport would:

(a)  Cause compelling hardship to the applicant (a delay or inability to travel does not, by itself, constitute compelling hardship), e.g.:

(i)     Involuntary separation from her/his parents, spouse, or children;

(ii)    Inability to accept a job opportunity;

(iii)    Inability to pursue an education;

(iv)    A life or death emergency (defined below); or

(v)    Exigent circumstances (defined below).

(b)  Impede the applicant’s ability to complete a critical mission on behalf of the U.S. government (for special issuance passports).

(6)  Evidence of U.S. Citizenship/Non-Citizen U.S. Nationality: Documents used to establish U.S. citizenship/non-citizen U.S. nationality in accordance with federal regulations.  See also "Proof of Citizenship" below.

(7)  Exigent circumstances:  Exigent circumstances as used in 7 FAM 1353.8 are a type of emergency situation when failure to issue a passport to a minor would:

(a)  Endanger the health, safety, and welfare of the minor applicant; or

(b)  Involuntarily separate the minor applicant from her/his parents/legal guardians or the rest of her/his traveling party.

(8)  Expedite (passport agencies/centers only):  The applicant receives higher-priority service because she/he paid an expedite fee (see 7 FAM 1300 Appendix G, “Passport Fees”).

(9)  Life or Death Emergency:  A life or death emergency is one that:

(a)  Severely endangers the health and safety of the applicant or another individual (e.g., receive a medical procedure necessary to sustain life or limb, inability to donate or receive a vital organ, etc.); or

(b)  Impairs the ability to attend to a dying relative or a funeral.

(10) Minor:  A passport applicant under the age of 18 who has not been emancipated.  Please note that there are special requirements for minors under the age of 16 (see 7 FAM 1350, “Passports for Minors”).

(11) Posts:  U.S. Embassies and Consulates.

(12) Preponderance of the Evidence:  This standard means that the evidence in support of the claim is of greater weight than the evidence to the contrary; preponderance of the evidence equates to more likely than not.  This standard is known as the balance of probabilities.  This standard, as applied to passport adjudication, means that you must determine that it is more likely than not that the applicant is eligible for a U.S. passport based on the evidence.

(13) Private Document or Record: A document or record issued by a non-governmental organization, e.g., hospital birth certificates, baptismal certificates, insurance records, etc.

(14) Proof of Citizenship:

(a)  A passport during its period of validity, if such period is the maximum period authorized by law;

(b)  A Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America;

(c)  A certificate of naturalization or of citizenship, issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (or its authorized predecessor bodies);

(d)  A judicial declaration of citizenship or naturalization by a court with jurisdiction.

(15) Public Document or Record:  A document or record issued by, under the authority of, or filed with a government organization, e.g., court orders, government-issued identification documents, birth certificates, etc.

(16) Reasonable Explanation:  A reasonable explanation is:

(a)  Supported by the evidence (it is not a "guess");

(b)  Logically and consistently applied;

(c)  Appropriate given the tools and training provided, and the adjudicator's level of experience; and

(d)  Defined in the FAM, if applicable.

(17) Special Issuance Passport: Official, diplomatic, service, and no-fee regular passports.

(18) Urgent:  An urgent circumstance is when failure to issue a passport would impede the applicant’s ability to travel, e.g., cause her/him to delay and/or miss a trip.  This is distinct from expedite service (see above), which is sometimes referred to as "urgent."

(19) You/Your:  Consular officers, passport specialists, and members of Passport Services management at a passport agency/center who have been issued an adjudication stamp.

7 FAM 1312.2  Unassigned

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7 FAM 1313  Establishing Entitlement to Passport Services 

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a. U.S. citizens and non-citizen U.S. nationals who have satisfactorily established their identity and U.S. citizenship/non-citizen U.S. nationality and do not fall within a statutory or regulatory basis for denial (see 7 FAM 1380, “Passport Denial, Revocation, Limitation, Restriction and Surrender”) are entitled to regular U.S. passports.

b. Burden of Proof:  Applicants have the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence their identity (22 CFR 51.23) and that they are U.S. citizens/non-citizen U.S. nationals (22 CFR 51.40).  (See also INA 309(a), 8 U.S.C. 1409(a), regarding establishing a blood relationship by "clear and convincing evidence" to establish the citizenship of a child born abroad to an unmarried United States citizen father, 7 FAM 1133.4.)

c.  It is your responsibility to exercise due diligence in adjudicating an applicant’s eligibility for a passport.  (See 7 FAM 1100, 7 FAM 1320, “Identity of the Passport Applicant,” 7 FAM 1340, “Examination and Adjudication of Passport Applications,” and 7 FAM 1350, “Passports for Minors.”)

d. Name Check Clearance:  You are responsible for conducting a check of the Consular Lookout and Support System (CLASS) to determine whether there is a reason why the applicant should not be issued a passport.  (See 7 FAM 1330, “Name Clearance of Passport Applicants.”)

e. Applicants for special issuance passports must also establish their entitlement to those types of passports (see 7 FAM 1390, “Special Issuance Passports”).

7 FAM 1314  Types of Passports

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a. Passport types are defined in 22 CFR 51.3.

b. Regular Passports:  Regular passports are issued to U.S. citizens or non-citizen U.S. nationals.  Regular passports are issued to persons 16 years of age or older for ten years and to minors under 16 years of age for five years, unless otherwise limited.  Regular passports have a blue cover and a fee is charged for their issuance.

(1)  No-fee regular passports are a subtype of regular passports and are issued to persons who are exempt by law from paying passport fees (see 22 CFR 51.52).  No-fee regular passports are valid for a period appropriate to the applicant’s entitlement, not to exceed five years (see 7 FAM 1390).  No-fee regular passports also have a blue cover.

(2)  Second regular passports are regular passports issued to persons who are eligible to receive a second passport.  Second regular passports are valid for no more than four years.  Second regular passports also have a blue cover and a fee is charged for their issuance.  See 7 FAM 1300 Appendix R for more information on second regular passports.

(3)  Overseas photo-digitized passports (OPDPs) are domestically-produced regular passports accepted and adjudicated at post.

(4)  Emergency photo-digitized passports (EPDPs) are limited-validity regular passports issued in urgent or emergency circumstances by posts.  EPDPs are not e-passports and applicant biographic information is printed on visa foils.

cOfficial Passports:  Official passports are issued to officers or employees of the U.S. government traveling abroad to carry out official duties.  Official passports are valid for a period appropriate to the applicant’s entitlement, not to exceed five years (see 7 FAM 1390).  Official passports have a maroon cover.  When authorized by the Department, official passports also may be issued to:

(1)  Eligible family members who are included on the travel authorization of such persons;

(2)  U.S. government personal services contractors traveling abroad to carry out official duties in support of the U.S. government (see 7 FAM 1393.2);

(3)  Non-personal services contractors; and

(4)  Officials or employees of state, local, tribal, or territorial governments traveling abroad to carry out official duties in support of the U.S. government, if the travel meets the eligibility requirements for an official passport (see 7 FAM 1393.2).

d. Diplomatic Passports:  Diplomatic passports are issued to Foreign Service Officers or to persons having diplomatic status or comparable status because they are traveling abroad to carry out diplomatic duties on behalf of the U.S. government.  Diplomatic passports are valid for a period appropriate to the applicant’s entitlement, not to exceed five years (see 7 FAM 1390).  Diplomatic passports have a black cover.  When authorized by the Department, diplomatic passports may be issued to:

(1)  Eligible family members who are included on the travel authorization of such persons; and

(2)  U.S. government contractors (i.e. personal and non-personal services contractors) traveling abroad to carry out official duties in support of the U.S. government if the contractor meets the exceptional eligibility requirements for a diplomatic passport and the passport is necessary to complete her/his contractual duties in support of the U.S. government (see 7 FAM 1393.3).

NOTE:  Courtesy Diplomatic Passports are a subtype of diplomatic passports and are issued to former Presidents, Vice Presidents, Cabinet Secretaries, and retired career Senior Foreign Service Officers who attained the personal rank of Career Ambassador, and their spouses and widows/widowers (see 7 FAM 1390).  Courtesy diplomatic passports are valid for ten years, have a black cover, and a fee is charged for their issuance.

e. Service Passports: Service passports are issued to a non-personal services contractor traveling abroad to carry out duties in support of and pursuant to a contract with the U.S. government, when exceptional circumstances make use of a service passport necessary to enable the individual to carry out their contractual duties.  Service passports are valid for a period appropriate to the applicant’s entitlement, not to exceed five years (see 7 FAM 1390).  Service passports have a gray cover.

f.  Passport Cards:  Passport cards are issued to U.S. citizens or non-citizen U.S. nationals.  Passport cards are valid only for departure from, and entry into, the United States through land and sea ports of entry between the United States and Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and Bermuda; unlike passport books, passport cards cannot be used for international air travel.  The validity period of a passport card is identical to that of a regular passport.  The passport card is a wallet-sized travel document.  (See also 7 FAM 1300 Appendix P, “The Passport Card.”)

NOTE: The Transportation Security Administration accepts the passport card as valid identification at airport checkpoints for domestic air travel.


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a. Single Passport Policy:  Pursuant to 22 CFR 51.2(b), no person shall bear more than one fully valid or potentially valid passport of the same type (see 7 FAM 1314) at any one time unless authorized by the Department.  The circumstances in which the Department may authorize issuance of a limited-validity second passport book of the same type are described in 7 FAM 1300 Appendix R.

b. Possession of Two Different Types of Passport Books:  The general prohibition on possession of two passport books of the same type (regular, official, diplomatic, service) does not preclude the simultaneous possession of a special issuance passport and a regular passport book.

c.  Passport Cards:  U.S. citizens and non-citizen U.S. nationals may possess a passport card in addition to any other type(s) of passport book(s).

7 FAM 1316  Request for Specimen Passports

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a. Foreign governments occasionally request specimen copies of the U.S. passport.  The Department considers these requests individually on a reciprocal basis.  Upon receipt of inquiries, posts should normally advise the host government to request the specimen copies through its mission in Washington, DC.  The Office of Foreign Missions (OFMinfo@state.gov) will coordinate the distribution of exemplars to all the foreign missions in the U.S.

b. Any formal request received by posts from domestic law enforcement agencies, forensic laboratories, or other legitimate domestic sources, should be forwarded to the Office of Fraud Prevention Programs in the Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA/FPP) at CA-Exemplars@state.gov.

c.  If the Department agrees to the request, the appropriate office will forward the specimen passport(s) to the domestic agency or foreign government through its mission in Washington, DC.  If more appropriate, the specimen passport(s) will be forwarded to the post for transmission to the host government.


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a. A passport remains at all times the property of the United States government and must be returned to the U.S. government upon demand (See 22 CFR 51.7).  Canceled passports are generally returned to the bearer.

b. 7 FAM 1388 provides guidance regarding passports surrendered to or confiscated by foreign governments.

7 FAM 1318  signature of the bearer

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a. A passport book is valid for international travel only when signed by the bearer in the space designated for signature.  A passport card is valid for international travel without the signature of the bearer (22 CFR 51.4(a)).

b. If the bearer is unable to sign, e.g., small children, the passport must be signed by a person with legal authority to sign on his or her behalf (see also 7 FAM 1345.3-4 regarding signatures).  The signature page must include the bearer’s name, the legal signature of the guardian, and the relationship to the applicant (i.e., mother, father, parent, or legal guardian).

c.  Travelers with unsigned passports may suffer delays, or other impediments to travel, depending on the entry requirements of the host country.  See the International Travel page of travel.state.gov for country-specific information.


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a. Executive Order 11295 of August 5, 1966 Rules Governing the Granting, Issuance and Denial of United States Passports, which delegates to the Secretary of State the authority to make regulations regarding passports conferred on the President of the United States by 22 U.S.C. 211(a);

b. Delegation of Authority (No. 119 of February 13, 1969) to The Administrator And Deputy Administrators, Bureau Of Security And Consular Affairs, delegated authority to designate persons who shall be authorized and empowered to administer oaths in connection with the execution of passport applications as provided in 22 CFR 51.21(a);

c.  Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) (Article 5 (d) provides that consular functions include issuing passports and travel documents to nationals of the sending state);

d. Federal statutes (federal regulations governing passports are found at 22 CFR 51):

(1)  8 U.S.C. 1104(a)(3) Powers and Duties of Secretary of State …The Secretary of State shall be charged with the administration and the enforcement of the provisions of this chapter and all other immigration and nationality laws relating to … the determination of nationality of a person not in the United States;

(2)  8 U.S.C. 1104(c) Powers and Duties of the Secretary of State … “Within the Department of State there shall be a Passport Office;”

(3)  8 U.S.C. 1185(b) Travel Control of Citizens and Aliens;

(4)  8 U.S.C. 1185 Note Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative

(5)  8 U.S.C. 1504 Cancelation of U.S. Passports and Consular Reports of Birth;

(6)  8 U.S.C. 1732 Machine Readable, Tamper-Resistant Entry and Exit Documents;

(7)  8 U.S.C. 1737 Tracking System for Stolen Passports;

(8)  18 U.S.C. 982 Criminal Forfeiture;

(9)  18 U.S.C. 1001 Statements or Entries Generally;

(10) 18 U.S.C. 1028 Fraud and Related Activity In Connection With Identification Documents and Information;

(11) 18 U.S.C. 1073 Flight to Avoid Prosecution or Giving Testimony;

(12) 18 U.S.C. 1541 Issuance without Authority;

(13) 18 U.S.C. 1542 False Statement in Application and Use of Passport;

(14) 18 U.S.C. 1543 Forgery or False Use of Passport;

(15) 18 U.S.C. 1544 Misuse of Passport;

(16) 22 U.S.C. 211a, which sets forth the authority of the Secretary of State to grant, issue, and verify passports;

(17) 22 U.S.C. 212, which states in part that only “those owing allegiance, whether citizens or not, to the United States” are entitled to a passport;

(18) 22 U.S.C. 212b, which prohibits the issuance of a passport without a unique identifier to certain covered sex offenders and authorizes revocation of passports previously issued to such offenders that do not contain the unique identifier.

(19) 22 U.S.C. 213, which requires a written application before a passport is issued and that the initial passport application “be duly verified by ... oath before a person authorized and empowered by the Secretary of State to administer oaths;”

(20) 22 U.S.C. 214, as amended, which requires payment of fees for the execution of an application and the issuance of a passport;

(21) 22 U.S.C. 214a, which authorizes a refund for fees collected erroneously;

(22) 22 U.S.C. 217a, as amended, which provides that a passport will be valid for ten years unless otherwise provided by regulation;

(23) 22 U.S.C. 218, which requires, “All persons who . . .  grant, issue, or verify passports” to make regular reports to the Secretary of State with an appropriate accounting of pertinent information;

(24) 22 U.S.C. 2670(j) Emergency Medical and Dietary Assistance;

(25) 22 U.S.C. 2670(m) Authority to Establish, Maintain and Operate Passport Agencies;

(26) 22 U.S.C. 2671(d) Repatriation Loan Program

(27) 22 U.S.C. 2705, which provides that a U.S. passport, during its validity period (and is issued for the maximum period allowed by law), has the same force and effect as proof of citizenship as a Certificate of Citizenship, a Certificate of Naturalization, and/or a Consular Report of Birth Abroad;

(28) 22 U.S.C. 2709 Special Agents – Investigation Concerning Illegal Passport Issuance or Use;

(29) 22 U.S.C. 2714 Denial of Passports to Certain Convicted Drug Traffickers;

(30) 22 U.S.C. 2714a, which authorizes revocation or denial of a passport if the applicant does not provider her/his Social Security Number or if the applicant has a seriously delinquent tax debt.

(31) 22 U.S.C. 2721 Impermissible Basis for Denial of Passports;

(32) 22 U.S.C. 4807 Responsibility of Secretary of State - Conduct of Investigation Concerning Illegal Passport Issuance or Use;

(33) 26 U.S.C. 7345, which authorizes revocation or denial of a passport if the applicant has a seriously delinquent tax debt.

(34) 28 U.S.C. 1783 Subpoena of Person in Foreign Country; and

(35) 42 U.S.C. 652(k) Duties of the Secretary (of Health and Human Services) – Denial of Passports for Non-Payment of Child Support.