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Can you get a passport if you have child support arrears?

On Behalf of | Aug 17, 2022 | Divorce, Divorce |

Whether you hope to take your children to Mexico to visit family, travel with them to foreign countries or need to get across the border for custody-related purposes, you need a U.S. passport. In many cases, debt does not affect your ability to get a passport. However, this is not the case when your debt pertains to child support.

Child support arrears can affect your ability to do a lot of things, ranging from applying for federal loans to receiving your tax refund. Many people are unaware of this, but child support arrears can also affect your ability to get a passport.

Overdue child support payments and your passport

As with most consequences of child support arrears, your overdue amount dictates when penalties go into effect. According to the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs, if you owe more than $2,500 in overdue child support, you cannot receive a U.S. passport. If you hope to receive a passport for any reason, you must bring your child support account to current with the enforcement agency within the appropriate state.

When you already applied for a passport

Applying for a passport is a lengthy and costly process. If already applied before learning about the Bureau’s rules pertaining to child support arrears, you may wonder if you can still receive your documents or if your efforts were for naught. Unfortunately, while the Bureau will keep your information on record, it will not issue a passport until you bring your child support account up to current with the appropriate enforcement agency.

Once you pay down your child support, the agency must report to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that you made the acceptable payments. The HHS must then remove your name from its list and report the removal to the Bureau. This whole process may take two to three weeks. Once the Bureau receives notification from the HHS, it will verify the removal and, only then, proceed to process your application as normal.

Child support arrears can adversely affect your life in several ways. If you owe a significant amount in child support, and if you hope to receive your passport for any reason, get help to explore viable repayment options.