How Americans Do the Impossible When It Comes to Passports

By Jerry Andrew Nelson, Writer and American Expat in Agentina

The chances of being like James Bond and zipping around the Alps with bad guys chasing you are slim to none.

But just like Bond…James Bond, you may find yourself in need of a 2nd passport.

When Juan Valdez applied for a long-term visa to visit China, he ran into a problem.

The Chinese Embassy required him hand over his American passport and told him, “It will be weeks before you get the visa and we return your documents.”

Meanwhile, he had to fly to Europe.

“I needed a second passport to travel,” he said via email. Valdez, a business development manager for a wine maker in America, was stuck.

Is it possible to get a duplicate passport? Yes. It’s a little known fact, but you can. Travel experts say maybe you should if you’re starting to plan more international trips.

Commonly referred to as “duplicate passports”, second passports offer the ability to travel internationally while processing a visa in the U.S. or to visit countries who do not allow entry to passport holders with stamps from enemy countries.

Duplicate passports are frequently miscalled called “duplicate passports”, a second passport is not a duplicate passport. The second passport will have its own dates of issue and expiration and their own passport numbers.

Second Passports May Be Doable

American citizens, under certain circumstances, are allowed by the U.S. State Department to hold a second passport. Those circumstances are 1) meet a short list of requirements and 2) hold a current and valid U.S. passport.

The State Department’s Form DS-82 passport renewal application, a written statement spelling out the reason(s) for needing a second passport, and a $110 fee, are all that is required.

  • A lengthy processing request to get a visa is the most common reason for requesting a second passport.
  • Restrictive entry policies in a country you are visiting is another.

But if you want a second passport merely as a backup, you can forget about seeing your application approved.

“Our policy for issuing second passports aims to reduce barriers to international travel,” explained a State Department spokesperson. “Second passports are an exception to our policy which requires travelers to maintain just a single valid passport at a time.”

Elizabeth Ricci, an immigration attorney in Florida, told CNN that those who apply for a second passport are usually business travelers. The option is becoming attractive to leisure travelers as well. While acknowledging a second passport isn’t intended to be a backup, Ricci said it can offer a sense of safety for frequent travelers.

“It eliminates the need for an emergency visit to a U.S. Embassy in case of theft or loss,” she says.

If applicant is applying for a second passport for the first time; applicant must submit current valid 10 year passport in order to apply for a second passport. If applicant is applying to extend or renew their current duplicate passport; applicant must submit both their current 10 year passport AND their current duplicate passport.

Author Bio

Jerry Nelson is an American writer living the expat life in Argentina and winner of the Revi 2021 Reader Award. You can find him at any of hundreds of sidewalk cafes and hire him through Fiverr, join the quarter-million who follow him on Twitter or contact him at

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