Important Due to Covid-19, processing times for passports are taking longer than normal for both standard and expedited services.

Can I get a passport if I have a previous felony drug conviction?

by Steven
(Cadillac, Michigan)

Question: I have a previous felony drug conviction. I was invited to Malawi, Africa as part of a missionary team. Will I be able to obtain a passport?


I am 55 years old and has worked in healthcare/education for 35 years. I have had formal education (BA & BS) and a passion for community work. I completed rehab and outpatient counseling, paid my fines and has been discharged from probation.

My pastor asked if I would be interested in going to Malawi, Africa as part of a health care team consisting of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and educators. We would travel in May and stay in Malawi for approximately 2 weeks.

The court has no travel restrictions on me; I do not have child support or alimony payments and no history of any violent crime of any type. What are my chances of obtaining a passport? What, if any, problems should I try to anticipate in applying for my passport?

Answer: There are a couple of things to consider. Most American citizens convicted of a felony offense are able to obtain a passport. Those convicted of drug-related offenses are prohibited from getting a passport if the offense involved crossing international borders.

While the United States may issue a passport, many countries do not permit individuals who have a criminal record to enter. Please contact the Malawi consular services concerning this issue.

Malawi Embassy.

Comments for Can I get a passport if I have a previous felony drug conviction?

Click here to add your own comments

Letter in the mail
by: Anonymous

Questions: I already have my passport and got a probation felony charge. Do you get a letter in the mail if your passport is revoked or suspended?

Answer: Yes, you will receive a letter in the mail if your passport is revoked. Not all felony convictions result in passport denial.

felony and would like passport to take cruise
by: Anonymous

Questions: My boyfriend has a felony and we would like to know if we would be permitted a passport to take a cruise to the Caribbean islands.

Answer: In most cases, an American citizens who have a prior felony conviction can obtain a passport. Note, possession of a passport does not grant permission to enter another country. Some countries place restrictions on the entrance of persons with previous criminal convictions. You need to verify the entrance requirements of the countries you plan to visit.

Also, passports are not required for a closed-loop cruise. Contact the cruise line to ask if the cruise you plan to take is closed loop and if a passport is required.

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Passport FAQ - Questions and Answers About Passports.

Click for fast expedited courier service

Top 5 Questions About Expedited Passport Couriers

COVID-19 UPDATE: Mailing delays are impacting passport processing. The Department of State's processing times begin when applications are received at a passport agency or center and not when you mail them or apply at a local acceptance facility. Standard service may take between 7 and 10 weeks. This timeframe does not include delivery time. Mailing times vary across the country.

Expedited service takes from 4 to 6 weeks exluding mailing times on the front and back end. Mailing delays may be significant so requesting 1-2-day mailing may greatly help.

Regional passport agencies are offering two types of appointments: Life-of-Death Emergency Service and Urgent Travel Service.

Life-or-death emergencies are serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family (parent, legal guardian, child, spouse, sibling, and grandparent) that require you to travel outside the United States within 3 business days.

If you need to travel due to a qualified life-or-death emergency, please call the National Passport Information Center for an appointment:

Mondays through Fridays 8 A.M. to 8 P.M. ET, call 1-877-487-2778 (TDD/TTY:1-888-874-7793) Outside of these hours, call 202-647-4000.

For Urgent Travel Service, you need to call 14 days before your scheduled international travel or 28 days if you also need to secure a foreign visa.

If you need to travel urgently for reasons other than a life-or-death emergency, please call the NPIC at 1-877-487-2778 Mondays through Fridays 8 A.M. to 10 P.M. ET.

Latest Passport & Travel Updates

Getting a Passport Expedited at a Post Office
Requesting express service at post offices and other facilities that accept application forms from U.S. citizens.

Applying at a Regional Passport Agency
Where processing centers are located. How to schedule an appointment. What documents to take with you.

Using a Registered Courier Service
How to pick a legitimate courier service company to assist in getting your passport quickly.

Routine vs. Expedited Passport Service: How to Choose
Guide to help you decide if standard or fast track processing is the best option for your situation.

10 Benefits of Expediters
What are the advantages of employing the services a qualified expediter?

How to Renew a U.S. Passport Fast
Learn to expedite passport renewals as quickly as the same day. Where and how to renew passport in a hurry.

Passport Renewal Videos
Watch step-by-step instructional passport videos of how to renew a passport in 3 steps.

Make Your Own Passport Photos
Use the online Passport Photo Wizard tool to make your own passport photos in minutes. Save money and time.

Travel Warnings
The latest alerts to help you prepare for a safe and secure trip abroad.

Travel Documents
List of the most important travel documents and information about how and where to get them.

Travel Safety
Discover practical advice on how to keep safe during international trips.

23 International Travel Tips to Save Money on Transportation, Lodging & More
Cool ways to make your money stretch farther on travel expenses so that you can go more often and stay longer.

Expedite Your Passport Now!