Given below are some frequently asked questions about passports
What is a biometric passport? An e-passport?
A biometric passport is a passport that has a digital photo instead of one that is glued on. An e-passport has a micro-chip that can be read by special equipment to confirm the data printed on the passport.
How long it will take to process my passport application? How long does it take to get a passport?
An application for a full-validity (ten years for adults; five years for children under age 16) or second passport will be sent to the United States for printing with a secure, photo-digitized image of the bearer. You should allow 15 working days for your application to be processed.
I need a passport in an emergency. What can I do?
If you are traveling within 15 working days, you may apply for a limited-validity emergency passport. Please see U.S. passports information. Each case will be evaluated at the time of the application. Emergency passports can be issued for a maximum of one year.
I downloaded the passport forms and noticed that the instructions on the forms are different from those on this website. Which should I follow?
You should disregard the instructions on the passport forms as they refer specifically to passport applications processed in the United States. You will fill out the same form but should follow the instructions on this website.
Can I apply for a U.S. passport at any consular post in India?
Can I hold more than one passport or nationality?
Yes. In the 1980’s, the Supreme Court ruled that citizenship is a constitutional right that cannot be taken away from a citizen who does not intend to relinquish it. Therefore, such actions as naturalization in a foreign country, employment with a foreign government, and/or voting in a foreign election do not automatically jeopardize American citizenship.
I am an American citizen, but also have a foreign passport. Can I use my foreign passport to travel to the United States?
No. Under U.S. law, U.S. citizens must be in possession of a valid U.S. passport to enter or leave the United States. This is true even if you hold a passport from another country. If your U.S. passport has been lost or stolen, or if it has expired, you must apply to replace it before traveling to the United States.
I travel frequently and my passport is always at some Embassy/Consulate to obtain a visa. Can I get a second passport?
Current regulations reflect the long standing policy of the Department of State that no person should be in possession of more than one valid, or potentially valid, passport at any one time unless under circumstances specifically authorized by the Secretary of State. The issuance of a second, concurrently valid passport should be considered an exception to the regulations, and is to be approved on an individual basis only where justified. The validity of a regular American passport is ten (10) years. The second, concurrently valid passport will be limited in validity for two (2) years.
I just got my new passport back and there’s a mistake in it. What do I do?
Contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you submitted your passport application as soon as possible.
My name changed while living in India. Do I have to notify the Embassy or the State Department?
There is no requirement to inform us of a name change. However, if you wish to have your name changed in your passport, you can do so by applying for a new passport.
What do I need to get a Consular Report of Birth Abroad?
Both parents will need to come with the baby along with the following documents and completed forms:
Does my child really have to come in to see you?
Yes. Your child, even a newborn, must appear in person at our offices at the time you make the application. Military children will appear before the designated passport agent on base. There are no exceptions or waivers possible for this requirement.
Is my child a Dual National?
No. India does not recognize dual nationality. The Indian government’s Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) and Person of Indian Origin (POI) programs are often incorrectly described as offering “dual nationality” or “dual citizenship.” This is not true, as India does not recognize dual citizenship. Follow this link to find out more about OCI and POI. The Indian Government has more information on OCI at the website for the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Can I just report the birth while in the U.S.?
No. If your child was born abroad you will need to complete the Report of Birth process abroad; it can’t be done in the U.S. If your child was born in India then the processing must be done in India. While you can file the documents at another U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad, that office is required to send them to us in India for processing. This will delay things, so it is best to complete this whole procedure while you are still in India.
How do I get additional copies of the Report of Birth?
Additional copies of the Report of Birth are available from the Department of State only; no records are kept at the Embassy/Consulates in India. You can get the details here on obtaining copies of your child’s Report of Birth.
I was born abroad but I do not have Consular Report of Birth Abroad. How can I obtain a copy?
If you were born abroad, your parents should have registered your birth at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate and received a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, Form FS-240. This form is acceptable legal proof of birth and U.S. citizenship. You can get the details here on obtaining copies of child’s Report of Birth.
I lost my original birth certificate, CRBA, marriage certificate, Report of Death or other U.S. record and need to obtain another one. What do I do?
The Embassy/Consulate keeps no files of the different documents we issue, such as a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA), or documents dealing with the death of an American in India. These records are instead filed in Washington, D.C. We also do not keep any files of Indian civil documents, such as records of marriages and divorces in India. These records are held by the Indian government. Other records, such as birth certificates for people born in the United States, are stored in the state of origin.
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) – Please go to the State Department’s web page on consular records for complete details on obtaining a copy of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA).
- Report of the Death of an American Citizen Abroad (ROD) – Please go to the State Department’s web page on consular records for complete details on obtaining a copy of a Report of Death (ROD) of an American citizen.
- All Other Vital Records – Follow this link for an on-line source of more information about obtaining vital records in the U.S.
There are also on-line services that will help you obtain records for a fee. One such service is VitalChek (800-255-2414), which allows you to request birth, death, and marriage certifications online, by phone, or by fax. Another service called usbirthcertificate.net can help you obtain or amend a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, in addition to obtaining a birth certificate. You must have a physical street address to use this service (no APO’s, FPO’s, or PO Boxes).
I was born in the US when my parents were there on assignment. I came back to India when I was a child and have not lived there since. Am I an American citizen?
Since you were born in the US, you may be an American citizen. Please note that if your parents were in the U.S. under diplomatic status at the time of your birth then you would not have become a citizen at the time when you were born. Please visit the American Citizen Services office of the Embassy/Consulate to verify your citizenship. If you are a U.S. citizen, you will need a U.S. passport to travel or move to the United States. Please visit our passport page for more information on how to receive a passport.
Please also note that India does not allow dual nationality. By asserting your U.S. citizenship, India would expect you to renounce your Indian citizenship.
My mother/father was a U.S. citizen, but I was born outside the U.S. Am I a U.S. citizen, too?
Maybe. Please click here for more information. The requirements to pass citizenship to a baby are that the transmitting parent was an American at the time of the baby’s birth, lived in the U.S. for at least 5 years prior to the birth, and at least 2 of those 5 years were after reaching the age of 14. For more information about applying for immigration for your baby please contact the Citizenship and Immigration Services office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call them at 2419-8506/8639.
I am an American citizen. I recently had a child born in India. Does s/he have a claim to American citizenship?
Possibly. Your child’s claim to citizenship depends on several factors. The requirements to pass citizenship to a baby are that the transmitting parent was an American at the time of the baby’s birth, lived in the U.S. for at least 5 years prior to the birth, and at least 3 of those 5 years were after reaching the age of 14. For more information about applying for immigration for your baby please contact the Citizenship and Immigration Services office at email@example.com or call them at 2419-8506/8639.
If I cannot transmit citizenship to my child, is there any way that s/he may become a U.S. citizen?
Yes. If you are not eligible to transmit citizenship to your child, it may be possible for him or her to apply for either expeditious naturalization, if an American citizen grandparent has enough physical presence time in the United States, or an immigrant visa, conferring citizenship upon entry to the U.S.
We are Americans living in India. We just adopted a child and s/he is living with us here. Does that make him/her a U.S. citizen?
Adoption by a U.S. citizen parent does not automatically confer citizenship, but it does qualify a child for expeditious naturalization, or citizenship upon entry to the U.S.
Can my spouse obtain a U.S. passport or citizenship through marriage?
A U.S. citizen cannot transmit citizenship to a spouse. Your spouse would be required to apply for an immigrant visa and reside in the United States as a lawful permanent resident (LPR). An application for naturalization can be made to the Department of Homeland Security on fulfilling a residency requirement. Once naturalized, your spouse would be eligible to apply for a U.S. passport.
For how long is a passport valid?
In general, children under the age of 16 are issued passports valid for five years; those 16 and over are issued passports valid for ten years.
How do I renew my child’s passport?
Both parents and the child must appear in person at the U.S. Embassy to renew the passport of a child under the age of 16. For a list of documents to prepare and information on what to do if one parent is unable to appear in person, please see this information.
Can I renew my passport before it expires?
Yes, do not wait for your passport to expire before applying for a renewal passport. Your passport may be renewed at any time that is convenient for you. Travelers to India and most other countries in Asia must present a passport valid for at least six months to be permitted to enter.
How soon should I renew my passport before it expires?
You may apply to renew your U.S. passport at any time. If your passport has expired or is about to expire, we strongly recommend that you take action now to renew your passport. Apart from the inconvenience you may incur in having to apply for a passport at short notice in the event of an emergency, every American abroad should have valid proof of his or her citizenship at all times. Please see above for information on U.S. passport renewal for adults over the age of 16.
If I don’t plan to travel back to the United States any time soon, why should I renew my passport now?
There are three reasons:
- The passport is proof of American citizenship. Every American abroad should have valid proof of his/her citizenship at all times.
- Life is unpredictable. You never know when you may need to travel suddenly to the United States. The last thing you need to do in an emergency is worry about getting to the Embassy or Consulate to get your or your child’s passport renewed.
- A valid passport is required for many Indian administrative purposes and you do not want to get caught with an expired passport if you need to process an application or stay in a hotel.
In the event of an emergency involving a family member abroad, a short-notice airfare bargain, or an unexpected business trip, already having a valid U.S. passport will save time, money, and stress.
I have visa stamps in my current passport. What happens to them when this passport is cancelled?
The U.S. Embassy/Consulate does not have the authority to transfer visas or stamps issued by other countries. When you renew your passport, your old passport will be cancelled but not your valid visas. You should then contact the appropriate authority of the issuing country for further instruction.
My passport has already expired. I do not wish to apply for a new one. Can my passport be extended?
No. Passports are not extendable.
Will you hold my current passport during the processing time of my new passport?
Yes, because we need it to cancel upon issuance of your new passport. Since our policy is to send passports via courier, it isn’t necessary to come back in to cancel the passport. Both the new and cancelled passports will be returned in the couriered package.
I cannot pick up my passport right away. Will this be a problem?
We will hold your new passport for 90 days. After that we will return them to the Department of State in the U.S. That is why our policy is now to return passports and CRBAs via courier.
Can someone pick up my passport for me? What document will they need to provide?
If you would like to have a family member or trusted friend pick up your passport, please give them a signed letter authorizing them to perform this service for you. They also will need to present a valid ID.
Will I get my passport back when I renew it?
Yes. In nearly all cases, your old passport will be cancelled and returned to you. If we are not able to return your old passport for any reason, we will discuss this with you at the time of application.
General information about U.S. passports is available here.
I wish to apply for a passport for my child; am I required to bring him/her to the Embassy/Consulate?
Is it true that passport applications for children under the age of 16 require the consent of both parents?
Yes, the consent of both parents/legal guardians is required, even if one parent is not a U.S. citizen.
What If only one parent can appear at the Embassy/Consulate with the child?
I don’t know where my child’s other parent is and I don’t know how to contact him/her to obtain his/her consent. Does that mean you can’t issue my child a passport?
Maybe. Each case is different and will be assessed by one of our consular officers. We recommend that you provide as much documentation as possible showing that you have made a “good faith effort” to contact your child’s parent through all available channels (family members, mutual friends, last known employer, divorce lawyer/solicitor, etc). It may be necessary for you to obtain a court order giving you sole custody or permission to apply for a U.S. passport for the child without the other parent’s consent.
My child is too young to sign his/her passport. How do I sign my child’s passport?
Children aged 16 and over may sign their own passports. For children under the age of 16, a parent should sign. In the space provided for the signature, the mother or father must print the child’s name and sign his/her own name. Then, in parentheses, by the parent’s name, write the word (mother) or (father) so we know who signed for the child.
How do I get information about my child’s passport or prevent a U.S. passport from being issued to my child?
Parents involved in international custody disputes may receive information about the United States passport of a minor from the Department of State, Passport Services. For passport assistance for parents and information on International Child Abduction see International Parental Child Abduction.