Can You Have Multiple U.S. Passports?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on November 03, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When word got out that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had three U.S. passports to his name when he was indicted on federal money laundering, false statement, and conspiracy against the United States charges, the first question that popped up for most people was: Just how many U.S. passports can one person have?

The short answer is one. The long answer involves some exceptions that allow a person to hold multiple U.S. passports, and it's not clear which, if any, applied in Manafort's case.

Passport Procedures

Section 51.2 of the Code of Federal Regulations is pretty clear on the issue of multiple passports:

(a) A United States passport shall be issued only to a national of the United States (22 U.S.C. 212).
(b) Unless authorized by the Department no person shall bear more than one valid or potentially valid U.S. passport at any one time.

"While we are not able to discuss any individual's passport records," an official reiterated to ThinkProgress, "the Department of State's general policy, as stated in 22 CFR 51.2(b), is that no person shall bear or be in possession of more than one valid or potentially valid passport of the same type (regular, official, diplomatic, no-fee regular, or passport card) at any time, unless authorized by the Department of State." The unnamed official added that the department "may authorize the issuance of more than one valid passport under ... limited circumstances, and only with limited validity."

Those circumstances include if a person has submitted their passport for a visa application and needs a duplicate for immediate international travel or if a foreign country might deny entry of a passport holder based on stamps or markings from other countries. According to the official, requests for more than one valid passport are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Man of Many Passports

It would appear that Manafort, however, didn't have multiple duplicates of one passport. A court filing indicated he currently has three United States passports, each "with different numbers." Additionally, a primary U.S. passport is valid for 10 years, while a second passport can be valid for one to four years with the possibility for renewal. But that court filing claimed "Manafort has submitted ten United States Passport applications on ten different occasions."

While most of Manafort's international travel took him to where many of his foreign bank accounts and shell companies were based, his indictment alleges he also traveled to Mexico, China, and Ecuador while using a phone and email account he had registered under a fake name.

If you need to apply for a second (or third) passport, and want to keep everything legal, contact an experienced government agency attorney first.

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