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.
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!).
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?