Is It Illegal to Have More Than One Passport?

It's not a crime to have multiple passports, but if fraud or identity theft is the intent, then of course, there are criminal and immigration consequences.

Unlike expired drivers' licenses, which most U.S. states require be surrendered upon renewal, no one will collect your old passport from you when it expires. In fact, being in possession of an expired passport is not considered to be a fraud or any other sort of crime. Still, we will cover some additional reasons why someone might have multiple passports, and when this might or might not be considered a crime.

Legal Reasons to Have Multiple Passports

There are various legitimate reasons for possessing multiple passports, including: 

1. You have dual citizenship/nationality in the U.S. and another country.

2. You are a U.S. government worker.

3. You renewed your passport and kept the expired or canceled passport.

Dual Citizenship

People having dual citizenship often have a passport for each country. Dual citizenship or nationality means that a person is a citizen of two countries at the same time. The U.S. allows (but does not encourage) dual citizenship. Your home country may or may not allow it. Each country has its own citizenship laws based on its own policy. The dual nationality may be automatic by law. For example, when a child is born in a foreign country but the parents are U.S. citizens, the child may hold citizenship in both countries.

A U.S. citizen may also acquire foreign citizenship through marriage to a foreign national. Or, a person who naturalizes as a U.S. citizen may retain the citizenship of his or her home country, if the home country allows it. Under such circumstances, it is not illegal or a fraud in any way for the person to hold two valid passports. Nevertheless, the U.S. requires that you carry your U.S. passport when traveling, and use it to reenter the United States.

Active-Duty U.S. Military Personnel, Diplomats

Active duty military personnel or U.S. diplomats will have government-issued passports to be used for official government-ordered business. These individuals are required to apply for tourist passports for all leisure travel. Which  passport they will use depends on the reason for their travel.

Possession of a Canceled Passport After Renewal

As stated above, it is not a fraud to keep an unaltered, canceled passport in your name after renewing an expired one. In fact, when a passport is renewed, the U.S. Passport Agency will return the old, canceled passport to the applicant. While the canceled passport cannot be used for travel, it is still valid proof of U.S. citizenship and personal identity. Therefore, it should be kept safe to prevent identity fraud.

Passport and Visa Fraud Often Equals Identity Fraud

The Diplomatic Security Service (DS), which is the law enforcement and security arm of the U.S. Department of State and has agents posted in over 160 countries worldwide, investigates passport and visa fraud and helps protect the integrity of the U.S. passport and visa. These documents are regarded as among the most valuable travel and identity documents in the world.

The U.S. passport allows citizens free passage in and out of the U.S. as well as into other countries around the world. That fact makes procuring a U.S. passport extremely desirable to terrorists and other criminals. According to the DS, obtaining a U.S. passport fraudulently is almost always a crime intended to facilitate other crimes. Passport fraud is linked to illegal immigration, contraband smuggling, economic crimes, international terrorism and other serious crimes. So if your question relates to whether it is a crime to carry a U.S. passport that is not rightfully yours, perhaps with a false name or altered photo, then of course the answer is yes.

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