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How to get a passport after a gender change

by Tony
(San Francisco, California, United States)

Question: What do I do if I have changed my gender legally but my birth certificate reflects the wrong gender? Incidentally, I am from Ohio so I will be unable to get a birth certificate that reflects my gender change. Thank you for your help.

Answer: In June 2010, the U.S. State Department announced a new passport policy allowing transgender individuals to obtain a passport in their new gender; the policy was last updated in January 2012.

Under the new policy, you can obtain a ten-year passport in your new gender if you have had appropriate clinical treatment or you can obtain a renewable two-year passport in your new gender if you are in the process of getting appropriate clinical treatment. Your physician determines what appropriate clinical treatment is.

For new passports, you must submit a completed Form DS-11 application. In addition to the normally required documents, you must include the following:
  • ID that resembles your current appearance
  • Passport photo that resembles your current appearance
  • A medical certification that indicates you are in the process of or have had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition
  • Proof of legal name change (if applicable).

Medical Certification

A signed, original statement from a licensed physician must be on office letterhead and include:
  • Physician’s full name

  • Medical license or certificate number

  • Issuing state or other jurisdiction of medical license/certificate

  • Address and telephone number of the physician

  • Language stating that:

    • He or she has a doctor/patient relationship with you

    • He or she has treated you or has reviewed and evaluated your medical history

    • You have had, or are in process of having, appropriate clinical treatment for transition to the updated gender (male or female)

  • The statement, “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States that the forgoing is true and correct.”

An example certification from an attending physician is available for download. You are encouraged to use the verbiage on the sample letter without providing any further medical details, as they are not required and violate your medical privacy.

San Francisco Passport Offices

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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 6 and 9 weeks. This timeframe does not include delivery time. Mailing times vary across the country.

Expedited service takes from 3 to 5 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.

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