Traveling Abroad with a Recent Felony Conviction

When someone is convicted of a felony, they will experience several negative consequences. With a felony on their criminal record, it will be harder to find employment. It will be harder to rent an apartment or house, and in certain industries, the conviction can bar the person from receiving a professional license – nursing is one industry where a license may be denied due to a criminal conviction.

A felony can bar someone from owning a gun, from voting, and from running for public office until the person’s civil rights are restored. But what about obtaining a US passport and traveling abroad? Can a felony conviction keep someone from traveling outside the US?

Obtaining a US Passport with a Felony

Under federal law, there are specific reasons why someone will be denied a US passport, but for most convicted felons, they won’t run into any trouble obtaining a US passport. Your passport does not hold any information about your criminal record, and it does not say anything positive or negative about your character.

A US passport simply identifies you and indicates that you are a US citizen. Every US citizen has the right to apply for a US passport unless they are an enemy of the United States and have committed treason, with a few exceptions.

Federal law bars US citizens from obtaining a passport if:

  • The person was convicted of drug trafficking after going into another country to commit the crime,
  • The individual is under federal arrest,
  • The individual has a felony-related subpoena,
  • The individual has been forbidden to get a US passport as a result of a court order, probation, or parole,
  • The individual has been identified by the US government as a serious threat to national security,
  • The individual owes $2,500 or more in back child support,
  • The individual has been forbidden from leaving the country by a court or judge, or
  • The individual was convicted of a felony for drug possession or distribution and is on a supervised release program or is serving a prison sentence.

If you were convicted of a felony and you already have a US passport, your passport can be revoked or you may have limited travel restrictions imposed by a court. Usually, though, the real problem isn’t obtaining a US passport, but finding a foreign country that will let you in with a felony conviction on your record.

Many countries will not let convicted felons enter their countries; Canada and Mexico are two examples of this. So, you may have no trouble obtaining a US passport, but you may not have any place to go.

Next: Can I Get a U.S. Passport with a DWI?

Facing felony charges and concerned how a conviction might impact international travel? Contact our firm to meet with Attorney Barrett today.

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