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Passport Denial

Information for Families

Published: December 29, 2011


Another tool provided to the States and Federal government by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) is Passport Denial. PRWORA requires the Secretary of State refuse to issue a passport to any person certified by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as owing a child support debt greater than $2,500. Further, the Secretary of State may take action to revoke, restrict, or limit a passport previously issued to an individual owing such a child support debt.

How does the program work?

All cases receiving full child support services through the local or State child support agency are eligible for Passport Denial. NCP's whose past-due support debt meets the criteria for certification to the Federal Collections Programs receives a Pre-Offset Notice explaining the process. This notice will include the amount of past-due support owed at the time it is sent. In addition, the Pre-Offset Notice includes information about the Passport Denial program, as well as information on the Federal Tax Refund and Administrative Offset programs.

Through the Federal Offset process, States submit to the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) those cases that meet the criteria for Federal Tax Refund and/or Administrative Offsets. When a State reports that an NCP's arrears exceeds $2,500, OCSE automatically forwards that name to the State Department for passport denial unless the State has specifically excluded that NCP from the Passport Denial Program.

When an individual applies for a passport, the State Department denies the application based on the child support obligation owed by the applicant. A notice is then sent by the State Department to the noncustodial parent explaining that the passport application was denied because of past-due child support. The applicant is advised to contact the appropriate State child support enforcement agency, a listing of which is included with the notice, for further information.

What steps should I take if my passport has been denied because of a child support debt?

You must contact your local child support agency to make satisfactory arrangements to pay your past-due support obligation. If more than one State reported your name to the Passport Denial program, you must reach an agreement with all States involved in order for the passport to be released.

Once the debt has been satisfied or a satisfactory agreement has been reached, the State(s) will request that OCSE remove your name from the passport denial program. After the denial of passport has been withdrawn, contact the National Passport Information Center (NPIC) at 1-877-487-2778 or make an appointment at a regional passport agency.

Last Reviewed: June 1, 2015

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