I Legally Have Two Passports. Should You?


I travel a lot, often at the last minute. I search out interesting places and if the timing is right and the airfares are reasonable, I could potentially be on an airplane to a new foreign land in a matter of a few days. I also travel to places that require me to send in, or drop off, my passport for a period of time to get a visa. So, what happens if I find a fantastic opportunity to travel to someplace fabulous and my passport is sitting in some bureaucrat’s file cabinet somewhere waiting for the right stamp? Now, I don’t have to concern myself. I just pull out one of my two passports and get going! Having a duplicate passport has served me well.

To me, it is perfectly reasonable to want to rush to a place because you can’t get a song out of your head: “London Calling,” “Kathmandu,” “Kashmir,” “New York, New York,” “Marrakesh Express?” I see nothing wrong with making a last-minute trip to Turkey just because there is a fantastic new seafood place on the Aegean Sea in Alacati. If the wildebeest migration is supposed to be especially photogenic in Tanzania next week, I want to be there. If you too think these things are reasonable, maybe you too should look into getting a second passport.

There are two reasons that travelers can legally have two valid U.S.  passports at the same time: One is logistical, the other is political.

Politics first. There is no “official” list of places that will deny you entry because you have visited somewhere else, but many countries in the Middle East won’t let you in if you have a stamp from Israel. (For this reason, you can now request that Israel give you a stamp on a piece of paper, instead of your passport.) Middle Eastern travel may be reason enough for the State Department to issue you a second passport. Also, it is not unreasonable to think these types of travel restrictions may become more common as some countries become more xenophobic, belligerent and nationalistic.

The logistical reasons are a little less clear but, if you can prove need, you may be a candidate. If you travel a lot and you sometimes need to release your passport to third parties for visa processing, that is a legitimate reason for a second passport. After showing my swollen passport the consular official at the U.S. Embassy in Laos, (I have had to have additional pages put in twice) it was obvious I was a candidate for a second passport.

Make it very clear that you are applying for a second passport

If you have a need and can prove it, the application process for a second passport is straight forward. Simply fill out State Department Form DS-82 (U.S. Passport Renewal Application), write a statement in support of your application – I used this one – and send or take it, with the application fees, to the appropriate U.S. Consulate for processing.

Possessing two legal, valid, U.S. passports is an unusual thing and, if you are applying while overseas, some consulates may not have heard of it. You may have to MAKE IT VERY CLEAR that you are applying for a second passport, not a replacement and that your primary passport SHOULD NOT BE CANCELLED!

To me, the freedom to travel is as important as the air that I breathe. I find not having a passport in my direct possession stifling and confining. Having a second passport allows you the freedom to continuously travel and not have to be concerned about being stuck someplace while you are getting visas. Also, this wasn’t the primary consideration for me, but the U.S. State Department no longer allows more pages to be added to your passport. This way I have more pages for more stamps.

Unless you spend a huge portion of your time doing last minute traveling, or you travel to areas of the world where governments don’t get along, you probably don’t need to bother applying for a second passport. But, if you are a very frequent globetrotter who doesn’t know where you will be from one day to the next, a second passport may be just what you need.


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Author: Jonathan Look

In 2011 Jonathan Look decided to change his life and pursue adventures instead of comfort and possessions. His goal is to travel the world solo; one country at a time, one year at a time. To accomplish this he got rid of most of his possessions, packed up what little he saw as necessities and headed out. His goal is to spend ten years discovering new places, meeting new people and taking the time to learn about them, their values and their place on this tiny planet. He embraces the philosophy that says a person is the sum of their experiences and rejects the fraud of modern consumerism that makes people into slaves of their consumption. He doesn't intend to be modern day ascetic, just more mindful of his place in the world and to make decisions according to that new standard.

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