How Can You Find Out If You Are on the Passport Denial List?

Traveling abroad is an exciting prospect, offering new experiences and opportunities. However, for some, this dream can hit a snag even before it begins, not due to lack of planning or resources, but because of being on the passport denial list.

This list, a result of child support arrears, can prevent individuals from obtaining a U.S. passport, thus halting their travel plans. But how does one find themselves on this list, and more importantly, how can they find out if they are on it and resolve the issue?

In this article, we’ll offer you a comprehensive guide to understanding, checking, and resolving your status.

Key Takeaways

  • Individuals owing child support arrears of $2,500 or more are placed on the passport denial list, preventing them from obtaining a U.S. passport.
  • To find out if you’re on the list, contact the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778.
  • Those on the list typically receive an email notification detailing their application denial and the steps to contest it.

Passport Denial List

The Passport Denial Program, established through a 1997 amendment to the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, is a measure taken by the U.S. government to enforce child support obligations.

If a parent owes child support arrears totaling $2,500 or more, the State Child Support Enforcement Agency reports this to the U.S. Department of State via the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Consequently, the individual’s name is placed on the denial list, making them ineligible for a U.S. passport.

This threshold has been subject to change and may decrease, affecting more individuals over time.

How to Find Out if You’re on the List?

1. Check Your Status

To determine if you are on the passport denial list, you can contact the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778. This direct approach provides the most straightforward answer to your query. It’s essential to have your personal information ready, such as your Social Security number and any previous passport numbers, to facilitate the process.

The representatives at the Information Center are trained to guide you through the steps you may need to take if you find out you are on the list. This service is available during business hours, so plan your call accordingly.

2. Notification of Denial

Typically, parents owing child support arrears receive an email notification about their application denial. This notice includes details on how to request a hearing to contest the denial.

Upon receiving this notice, the individual has 30 days to either pay off the arrears, prove the owed amount was less than $2,500 at the time of notification, or request an administrative review.

It’s crucial to act quickly upon receiving this notification to avoid delays in your travel plans. The email will contain specific instructions and contact information for submitting your request for a hearing or review. Keep a copy of all communications and documentation you submit, as they may be necessary for future reference.

3. Special Circumstances for Urgent Travel

In cases of urgent travel needs, such as a medical emergency, death of a close relative, military duty, or work-related travel, individuals can contact the State Child Support Agency. Providing the necessary documentation can expedite the process of resolving the passport denial.

Documentation may include medical records, death certificates, military orders, or employment letters, depending on the situation. It’s important to communicate the urgency of your situation clearly and provide all requested information promptly.

The State Child Support Agency may work with you to find a temporary or expedited solution that allows you to travel as needed.

Resolving Passport Denial Due to Child Support Arrears

Pay the Arrears

Make payments to the State Child Support Enforcement Agency where the child support obligations are past due. You can find the necessary contact information here. Paying the arrears in full is the quickest way to resolve the issue, but if you cannot afford to do so, inquire about setting up a payment plan.

It’s important to keep records of all payments made, as proof of payment will be necessary for the removal process from the denial list. Also, consider speaking with a legal advisor or child support specialist to understand all your options and rights.

Confirm Payment and Notification

Ensure that the agency has received the payment and has informed HHS of the payment arrangements. This step is crucial because the Department of Health and Human Services plays a key role in communicating your compliance to the State Department.

After making a payment or arranging a payment plan, follow up with the agency to confirm that they have updated your status. It may also be helpful to request a written confirmation of your payment and the notification sent to HHS, as this can serve as additional proof of your efforts to resolve the arrears.

Removal from the List

HHS will remove your name from the list and inform the U.S. State Department, which usually takes two to three weeks. This period allows for the processing of your payment and the updating of records across different government departments.

During this time, it’s a good idea to stay in contact with the State Child Support Enforcement Agency to monitor the progress of your case. Once your name is removed, you may want to request a confirmation letter for your records. This letter can be useful for future applications or if any questions arise about your eligibility for a passport.

Passport Application Processing

Once your name is cleared, the U.S. State Department will proceed with your application. This step marks the culmination of your efforts to resolve the passport denial issue. However, remember that standard passport processing times will apply from this point forward, so plan your travel accordingly.

If you need your passport sooner, consider applying for expedited processing for an additional fee. Keep in touch with the National Passport Information Center to track the progress of your application and ensure there are no further issues.


Can I apply for a passport if I’m currently making regular payments towards my child support arrears?

Yes, you can, but your eligibility depends on reducing your arrears below the $2,500 threshold and ensuring the State Child Support Enforcement Agency has officially reported your compliance to HHS.

Can I get a passport for my child if I am on the passport denial list?

Being on the list affects only the individual owing child support arrears. However, if there are any legal restrictions or custody issues that involve travel with the child, those will need to be resolved separately.

If my passport is denied due to child support arrears, will I be refunded the application fee?

No, application fees are non-refundable, regardless of the application’s outcome. It’s important to resolve any issues that might lead to a denial before applying.

After resolving my child support arrears, how soon can I reapply for a passport?

You can reapply for a passport as soon as your name is removed from the denial list. It’s advisable to confirm your removal from the list through the National Passport Information Center before submitting a new application.


Being on the passport denial list can be a significant obstacle for those looking to travel internationally. However, understanding the reasons behind the denial and the steps to resolve it can help individuals regain their eligibility for a U.S. passport.