How to Get a U.S. Passport with Child Support Payments

Limitations on Passports

Many U.S. citizens fail to realize that receiving a passport is not an unqualified right. In fact there are a number of circumstances in which an existing, issued passport might be revoked and/or a new one not issued to an applicant.

One such case occurs when an individual has more than $2,500 in outstanding child support payments. If the state agency involved has reported the delinquency, an application will be denied. The details concerning the issue of nonpayment of child support is addressed in Section 51.60 (a) (2) of Title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Understanding the Process

If you know or suspect you have more than $2,500 in such child support payments outstanding, you should contact the agency in the state where you owe the payments before submitting an application for a passport. You must deal with the agency within the appropriate state; the federal agencies will not be able to assist you with the matter.

Once you have paid the amount in arrears or worked out a solution for payment with the appropriate state agency, that agency must report the positive resolution to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Once this is done, the HHS personnel must remove your name from its published list of those with outstanding child support arrears.

The U.S. Department of State must receive this updated information and, in turn, update its list before an applicant can successfully submit their documentation. Passport Services will not take action on an application until they:

  • Receive the updated list of arrears with the applicant’s name removed
  • Verify the applicant’s name is not on the list

Once this is completed, Passport Services will initiate processing of the application. The entire time for such action can take up to three weeks after the individual concerned has dealt with the issue at the state level. It is important to ensure the state agency does take the initial step of notifying HHS of resolution of the arrears.

Other details for dealing with the process of obtaining passport are available at U.S. Passport Help Guide.