Getting a Second Valid U.S. Passport, FBI Agent Style

June 26, 2012

Travel Tips

According to Section 51.2(b) of Title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations, no person shall bear or be in possession of more than one valid U.S. passport at any one time.

So, what is a James Bond wannabe to do? Not to despair, my friends. There is one exception to Section 51.2(b) of Title 22 in which an American citizen can obtain a second valid U.S. passport in addition to their first valid passport.

second valid U.S. passport

Two is cooler than one!

So what is this exception and why get a second passport?

There are two reasons why an American might actually need and is legally entitled to a second valid passport (James Bond aspirations aside). The first is frequent international travel. Many people who travel abroad and are pressed for time often need an extra passport. With two passports they can, for example, leave the first one at foreign embassies for visa processing in the U.S., while at the same time traveling the world on their other passport. The second reason a person might need a second passport is due to restrictive entry requirements in various foreign countries. The most obvious example of this type of situation is the Israeli stamp issue.

Israel: The not-so-darling of the Middle East

If you have visited Israel or plan to visit Israel, and have plans to also visit other Middle Eastern countries, the Israel stamp issue is something to carefully consider. It will be difficult (in some cases impossible) to enter many Middle Eastern countries with an Israeli stamp in your passport. These countries include, but are not limited to, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Lebanon, and Yemen. There are 3 possible solutions to this conundrum that many Middle Eastern travelers find themselves in. First, you can ask the Israeli officials to stamp your Israeli visa on a separate sheet of paper, instead of in your passport. However, this solution is risky and not 100% guaranteed to succeed. A second and more stress-free solution is to plan your trip through the Middle East so that Israel is the last stop on your journey. The final solution is to apply for a second valid U.S. passport, thus being able to move between Middle Eastern countries worry-free (just don’t let them discover your second passport!).

The Israeli flag flying high!

Applying for your second valid U.S. passport

The process of obtaining a second passport in itself is pretty straightforward. However, as I discovered when I set out looking for information on this process, not many resources are available which give clear, non-conflicting instructions. Even when I called up the U.S. Passport Help Line, each representative I spoke to provided me with different instructions (my faith in the U.S. government gets weaker by the day!). Therefore, I am going to clear up the confusion and explain how I obtained by second valid U.S. passport.

There are several things that you will need to apply. First of all, please note that your application for a second passport can be sent by mail; you do NOT need to appear in person at a passport center to apply (don’t let any “official” passport help agent tell you otherwise!). The first thing you will need to include in your application packet is a completed DS-82 Form (application for passport renewal) with an attached passport size photo. Make sure to staple your photo to the application in the appropriate boxed area. Secondly, you will need to include proof of U.S. citizenship – basically, your passport. Don’t worry; your passport will be mailed back to you later. I attached a sticky note to my passport on which I wrote, “Applying for 2nd passport. Please return, don’t destroy,” just to make sure I got it back. Additionally, you will need to include a check for $110 made out to the U.S. Department of State. Finally, the last (and extremely important) component of your application is a letter explaining why you are applying for the second passport. Here is a sample letter.

Enclose the application, check, passport, and request letter in an envelope and send to the National Passport Processing Center in Philadelphia (the address is on the DS-82 form). Make sure to send it using certified mail. You wouldn’t want to lose your passport in the mail after all that, would you?

After waiting several weeks (they say the processing time is 4-6 weeks but I only had to wait 3), you will get your new and old passports mailed to you in separate envelopes.

That’s it! It’s as easy as 1-2-3! Obtaining a second valid U.S. passport can help resolve several common problems that frequent international travelers face. Not to mention you will be living out your secret undercover agent fantasies in real time!

Now I want to hear from you! Do you have a second valid U.S. passport? What have been your experiences traveling with two passports?

, , ,

About Hannah

As a self-professed travel junkie, I have found that the only remedy to my addiction is travel itself. I am in the stages of launching an indefinite journey around the world with no goal other than to explore this small planet called Earth.

View all posts by Hannah

9 Responses to “Getting a Second Valid U.S. Passport, FBI Agent Style”

  1. Audrey Says:

    Interesting! I didn’t know one could get 2 passports. I’m facing the conundrum of having to renew my passport soon because I’m almost out of pages and I was under the impression that you could just have pages added on a Canadian passport, but apparently you can’t… :| Sigh.

    Reply

    • Hannah Says:

      Wow, that sucks that you have to renew your entire passport when you run out of pages! I know with an American passport you can get extra pages added but I think they charge a fee of $82. So either way it’s not cheap.

      Reply

  2. Veronica Says:

    Hi Hannah,

    I had a rather different experience. Maybe because I lived overseas…

    I had to go to the American Consulate and apply in person and be interviewed. I had to take a letter of declaration from my employer stating that I needed a second passport due to business travel. They made it very clear both before and during the interview that this was an exception and due to the fact that I had stamps from the MIddle East they would grant my request.

    This is the second time I have had a second passport (which is only valid for two years) and the process was the same both times.

    My main reason to need a second passport is due to obtaining visas for frequent travel. I was told (by the way) that this was not enough reason as the second passport would be granted on real need and not on convenience.

    Of course if you say you will be traveling to Israel and other Middle East countries they will almost always grant the second passport. But remember that it is only valid for two years and when you do not make these trips and then apply again for a second passport…you will most likely be turned down.

    kind regards,
    Veronica

    Reply

    • Hannah Says:

      Veronica,

      Thanks for your input and comments! I’m very interested in your experience with getting a second passport, as it’s so different from mine. Though it took a lot of investigating to figure out what procedures are to be followed, once I knew what I needed to submit, it was smooth sailing.

      I wonder if other Americans living abroad have had similar experiences to yours? It would be interesting to find out.

      I actually didn’t end up using my passport for traveling to Iran last year (which was my original plan), though I did make it to Dubai. I am still thinking of going to Iran this year (hopefully before my second passport expires!). It’s definitely worrying to think that they might turn me down for renewing my second passport if I don’t make that trip before my 2nd passport expires. Yikes!

      Reply

  3. Carol Says:

    Thank you for your statement “you will get your new and old passports mailed to you in separate envelopes”. Just went through this process for my daughter and was concerned when I received a mailing containing only the original passport. FYI they sent it to her permanent address despite the fact that the DS-82 requested shipment to her college address. I suspect the second passport will get mailed to the requested address.

    Reply

    • Hannah Says:

      Hi Carol,

      I hope everything worked out for your daughter! I think it’s a very important point that they mail the passports in separate envelopes, and it’s something that could be emphasized more to applicants. I don’t think they make a very big point of it when people call in asking for directions on how to submit an application for a second passport.

      Are you listening, Obama? :)

      Reply

  4. Evia Says:

    I see a lot of interesting content on your website.

    You have to spend a lot of time writing, i know how to save you a lot of work, there is a tool that
    creates unique, SEO friendly articles in couple of minutes, just search in google
    - laranita’s free content source

    Reply

  5. Roscoe Says:

    It’s hard to find your articles in google. I found it on 13
    spot, you should build quality backlinks ,
    it will help you to rank to google top 10.

    I know how to help you, just type in google – k2 seo tricks

    Reply

Leave a Reply