After You Get Your Special Issuance Passport

You can learn more about your regular (tourist) passport on our After You Get Your Passport page. 

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Your new passport book is a Next Generation Passport

 Visit our FAQs page to find out more about the new features of your passport.


About Your Special Issuance Passport

Special issuance passports (i.e., official, diplomatic, service, or no-fee regular) are used for travel when the bearer is on official business for the U.S. government.  Special issuance passports may not be used for personal travel other than entering or exiting your country of assignment.

A passport at all times remains the property of the United States and must be returned to the U.S. government upon demand. 

A special issuance passport may be used only as long as you retain the position or status for which it was issued. A special issuance passport must be returned to the Department of State upon the termination of the bearer’s official or diplomatic status or at such other time as the Department may determine. 

Department of State personnel may return their passport to the Special Issuance Agency directly or via their bureau’s executive office. If you work for another federal agency, contact your agency’s passport office.

Bearers of special issuance passports must use that passport when entering or exiting their country of assignment abroad and for return to the United States. Regular (fee) passports must be used for personal travel except when entering or exiting the country of assignment abroad.

A special issuance passport DOES:

  • Attest that the bearer is traveling on official or diplomatic business for the U.S. government or is an accompanying family member of such a person.  It implies no other status.

A special issuance passport DOES NOT:

  • Provide diplomatic immunity;
  • Provide exemption from foreign laws, including customs, immigration, or labor laws;
  • Allow the bearer to carry classified or sensitive material across international borders;
  • Allow the bearer to avoid questions by foreign immigration officials or to ignore security checkpoints;
  • Provide a shield from arrest;
  • Shield the bearer from the hazards of war, criminal violence, or terrorism;
  • Grant benefits to which the bearer is not otherwise entitled.

A special issuance passport MAY:

  • Subject the bearer to increased scrutiny by foreign governments and other entities.

Special issuance passports carry the same message from the Secretary of State as appears in a regular (fee) passport requesting that the bearer be permitted “to pass without delay or hindrance” and given “all lawful aid and protection.”  

In addition, each special issuance passport carries an endorsement indicating that the bearer is abroad on an official or diplomatic assignment for the U.S. government.  While traveling abroad, each traveler with a special issuance passport has a special obligation to respect the laws of the country in which they are present as well as U.S. government and agency-specific standards of conduct.


Additional Visa Requirements for Special Issuance Passports

Many countries have visa requirements for official and diplomatic passport holders that are greater than the requirements for regular (fee) passport holders. You may have to obtain an official or diplomatic visa depending on the countries to which they will travel. Note that the placement of an official or diplomatic visa in a passport does not result in diplomatic status or immunity in the host state.

For more information on visa requirements for federal employees (with the exception of the Department of Defense), please refer to Official and Diplomatic Visa Information. If you do not have access to OpenNet on your device, please click here: SIA Contact Us Portal


Preventing International Parental Child Abduction

It is a crime for a parent to take a child outside of the United States without the other parent’s approval.

To prevent abduction, enroll in the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program. We will let you know if someone submits an application for your child. We will ask you to approve the passport issuance.

If you have questions, call us at 1-888-407-4747 if you are in the United States or at (+1) 202-501-4444 if you are in a foreign country.


Tips for Travel

You must sign your full name in your passport in black or blue ink.  Parents may sign on behalf of their children under 16 and should note their relation to the child.

Keep your special issuance passport in a safe location while at home and abroad.  If your special issuance passport is lost or stolen, report it immediately by one of these methods:

Passports reported lost or stolen are invalidated.  DO NOT attempt to travel on a passport your reported lost or stolen as foreign immigration authorities will not permit you to enter. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Why would a special issuance passport be placed on file at SIA?

To save money and time, just in case the special issuance passport is needed again in the future.

As long as the special issuance passport is still valid, it can be retrieved from SIA and returned to your federal agency in the event the employee needs to travel. This prevents (a) the customer from needing to complete a new application, (b) SIA from needing to process a new application, and (c) the federal agency retrieving the passport from needing to reimburse the Department of State for the cost of processing a new application.

Can any type of passport be filed at SIA?

No. Only diplomatic, official, or service passports valid for one year or more at the time the request to file the passport is made.

If a valid regular passport is mistakenly sent to SIA for filing, SIA will make every reasonable effort to return the regular passport to the customer or federal agency. If that is not successful, the regular passport may be destroyed.

If a valid no-fee regular passport is mistakenly sent to SIA for filing, SIA will likely destroy the passport without notification to the employee or the federal agency.

What if a passport expires while on file at SIA?

Periodically, SIA reviews its passport files and pulls those passports that have only 6-months validity remaining. These passports are destroyed, most often without notification to the employee or the federal agency. If your passport in destroyed in this manner, you must submit Form DS-11 to get a new special issuance passport.

Last Updated: February 21, 2024