Steps to Get a Special Issuance Passport

The Special Issuance Agency (SIA) issues diplomatic, official, service, and no-fee regular passports, and supports visa processing for individuals and their eligible family members who are traveling on behalf of the U.S. government.

Note: You may not be able to access some links on this page if you are not on a U.S. government computer or device. 


Types of Special Issuance Passports

Special Issuance Passports:  These passports are issued to U.S. government employees and their dependents. In limited circumstances, they may also be issued to non-personal services contractors. They are not valid for personal travel. Special issuance passports are valid for a maximum of five years. 


Diplomatic Passport

The Department of State issues diplomatic passports at the request of the employing federal agency to U.S. government employees and their eligible family members who are serving the United States of America abroad under Chief of Mission (COM) authority; persons to whom the Department of State has granted diplomatic or consular titles; and persons who have diplomatic or comparable status due to the nature of their foreign mission or the position they hold.  

Entitlement to a diplomatic passport is determined by reviewing a number of factors including, but not limited to, the applicant's employing agency, employment status, travel destination, nature of assignment, and supervising authority.

Diplomatic passport books are black in color and contain an endorsement stating that the passport holder is travelling abroad on a diplomatic assignment for the U.S. government. 


Official Passport

The Department of State issues official passports to employees of the U.S. government and their eligible family members traveling abroad as part of their official duties. As with a diplomatic passport, entitlement to an official passport is based on several factors that are carefully reviewed by the Special Issuance Agency before approval.  

One major exception to entitlement for official passports is military personnel assigned to NATO countries and other countries with which the United States has a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). In most cases, military personnel may enter and exit such countries by presenting their military ID card and travel orders. Eligible family members may be issued no-fee regular passports by the Special Issuance Agency, which include a pre-printed endorsement reflecting their military dependent status.

Information on country specific requirements for DoD members can be found in the Foreign Clearance Guide.  

Official passport books are maroon in color and contain an endorsement stating that the passport holder is traveling abroad on an official assignment for the U.S. government. 


Service Passport

Gray service passports are issued on a limited basis to non-personal services (third party) contractors traveling to support the U.S. government whose travel cannot be accomplished using a regular passport.


No-Fee, Regular Passport

No-fee regular passport books appear identical to regular (fee) passports. They are blue in color, do not require payment, and contain a special endorsement reflecting the passport holder's travel status. In addition to military dependent passports, the Special Issuance Agency issues no-fee regular passports to various U.S. citizens traveling in a government-affiliated capacity including: 

  • Peace Corps volunteers
  • American seamen employed on no-fee U.S. flag vessels
  • A U.S. citizen employee of the United Seamen’s Service
  • The U.S. citizen widow, widower, children, parent, brother, or sister of a deceased member of the U.S. Armed Forces buried abroad, who intends to travel abroad under the auspices of the American Battlefield Monuments Commission to visit the graves of such service member or to attend a funeral or memorial service for such member
  • Employees of the American National Red Cross (and their dependents) traveling abroad under assignment for cooperation with and assistance to the U.S. Armed Forces
  • Personnel traveling on DoD invitational travel orders, such as professional entertainers, clergy, sports clinic personnel, military athletes, and persons traveling abroad to participate in a court martial
  • Next of kin (NOK) traveling to visit members of U.S. Armed Forces who are ill or injured abroad

Regular, Fee Passport

The majority of U.S. passports fall under this category. Fee passport books are blue and alternately referred to as "regular" or "tourist" passports. These books are normally valid for 10 years (when issued to persons 16 and older) or five years (when issued to those under 16). Validity may be limited, however, if the applicant cannot provide sufficient documentation, has a history of lost/stolen passports, or is indebted to the U.S.

The blue passport book, alternately referred to as the Regular or Tourist passport, is the most commonly issued U.S. passport



Steps to Apply or Renew

The steps to apply for a special issuance passport are different if you are employed by the U.S. Department of State, Defense, or another federal agency. The steps are also different if you are going on a permanent change of station (PCS) or temporary duty (TDY). 
Note: You may not be able to access some links if you are not on a U.S. government computer or device. 
Find a detailed list of steps on SIA's webpages:
  1. U.S. Department of State - How to Apply
  2. U.S. Department of Defense - How to Apply
  3. Other Federal Agencies - How to Apply
Overview of how to apply for an SIA passport
  1. Get your authorization document
    • Department of State employees: PCS: Submit a request to the Bureau of Global Talent Management on the Department's Intranet. TDY: Submit a letter of authorization signed by your bureau's executive office.   
    • Department of Defense employees: PCS and TDY: Submit Form DD 1056 to an authorized passport acceptance agent at a DoD passport facility or contact the DoD Passport and Visa Office. PCS: Include a copy of your approved travel orders. 
    • Other federal agency employees: PCS and TDY: Submit a letter of authorization signed by an authorized official from your agency. PCS: Include your a copy of your travel orders
  2. Fill out your application online and print it
    • If you are applying for a child under age 16, both parents or guardians will need to appear in person with the child. 
  3. Get your passport photo
  4. Provide evidence of U.S. citizenship
    • If you are in the United States and were previously issued a special issuance passport, you must submit it. If you are not in the United States, but have a regular passport book or card, you may submit a photocopy of it. Do not submit the original passport. Contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate or acceptance facility (if assigned to a military installation) for instructions if you are applying in a foreign country. 
  5. Provide photo ID
    • Include the original, government-issued photo ID and a clear photocopy of the front and back of this ID if you are not eligible to renew your passport.
  6. Submit your application
    • Department of State employees: Go to the Where to Apply page on SIA's website for more information.    
    • Department of Defense employees: Contact the DoD Passport and Visa Office, or your nearest DoD passport facility.
    • Other federal agency employees: Contact your agency.
  7. Track application status
    • Use the Online Passport Status System on a goverment computer or mobile device to subscribe to automatic email updates about your special issuance application. You can subscribe to updates as soon as your application is "In Process." Your processing times may be delayed if you receive a letter and/or email from us requesting more information.


How to Access the Special Issuance Agency's Website

SIA has a secure website that is only accessible to U.S. government employees and contractors using a U.S. government computer or device. You will not be able to access the website on your personal computer or mobile device. If you are on a U.S. government computer or device and still cannot access SIA's website, please follow these steps:

Step 1: Obtain at least one IP number from your federal agency

  • Type in into your web browser’s address and hit ‘Enter’
  • You will be directed to a page with a series of numbers (e.g. 555.555.555.5) highlighted at the top of the page. This series of numbers is your IP address.

Step 2: Provide the top-level domain name of your agency (,,, etc.)

  • This information can be found by opening up your agency’s default web browser and looking at the URL in the address bar

Step 3: Please send the IP address and top-level domain name of your agency to the Special Issuance Agency.


Last Updated: March 5, 2024