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Can I Get a Passport with a Felony?

Posted on 04/29/24

Understanding the rules surrounding passport eligibility is important for individuals with felony convictions in Colorado; such convictions can have significant consequences that impact many aspects of your life, including international travel. Whether you can obtain a passport often depends on the specifics of your conviction and current legal status.

Most People Convicted of a Felony Can Get a Passport – But There Are Exceptions

Generally, most people who have been convicted of a felony in Colorado are still eligible to apply for and obtain a passport. There are exceptions to this general rule. If your felony conviction is for certain crimes, such as international drug trafficking, you may find yourself ineligible for a passport. Also, owing $2,500 or more in child support can prevent you from obtaining a passport.

The final rule amends the existing regulation at section 51.70(a) in Title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations which requires the Secretary of State to deny a passport to a person who has been certified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to be in arrears of child support by an amount exceeding $5000 by changing it to $2500 in accordance with Section 7303 of Public Law 109–171, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.

You May Have Trouble Getting into Other Countries 

Even if you have a valid passport, having a criminal record can still raise challenges when entering foreign nations. Every country sets its own rules on allowing travelers with past convictions to cross its borders. 

Particularly serious charges – like those involving drug trafficking, financial fraud, or violent crimes – might lead some countries to turn you away, even if you have a valid US passport. It’s crucial to research the specific entry requirements of your destination country before making travel plans. 

Visa Denials 

Criminal convictions may also make it difficult to obtain visas for other countries. This stems from the visa application process, which often involves background checks and requires applicants to disclose any criminal history. Certain types of offenses, particularly those considered serious or involving moral turpitude, may lead to automatic visa denial. It’s important to prepare for this possibility by gathering any documents or evidence that might support your application, such as records of rehabilitation or character references.

Ways to Increase Your Chance of Obtaining a Passport and Entry into Other Countries

To improve the odds of obtaining a passport and entry into other countries despite having a felony record, consider the following strategies:


Having your record expunged can clear past convictions, potentially lifting restrictions that could be holding back your ability to travel. Again, it’s always up to the other country’s laws, so an expungement isn’t a guarantee that you will be able to enter, but it will likely give you a better chance. 

Complete All Sentences and Parole Periods

Ensuring you’ve satisfied all conditions of sentencing – including parole periods – without further incidents, demonstrates compliance which could play in your favor when seeking a passport. 

Additionally, make sure you pay all fines and court costs before applying for passports and visas.

Consult with an Immigration Attorney 

Consulting with an immigration attorney in addition to a criminal defense lawyer can be a wise decision. They can help you navigate any potential challenges related to your felony record, as they are likely to know the laws about specific countries or can easily look them up for you so you know what to expect. They can give you advice on what you need to do to give yourself the best chance of being able to enter your destination of choice. 

Ultimately, the best thing you can do when trying to obtain a passport and entry into other countries while you have a felony record is to seek legal help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.