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Is It Possible to Get a Refund for Passport Fees?

Money from refund
Money from refund by ChamilleWhite/DepositPhotos

The Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Passport Services has authorized persons at several public institutions to accept passport applications and fees. You can apply for a passport from an authorized clerk of court, United States post office, public library, or other state, county, or municipal government office.

In this way, it's easy to find a Passport Application Acceptance Facility near you to make applying for a passport as convenient as possible. These designated passport acceptance agents collect your passport application, supporting documents, and related passport fees under the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) governing passports.

All passport fees are considered payments associated with processing your passport application and are therefore generally non-refundable, whether you successfully obtain a passport or not. However, there are a few exceptions to the rules.

Execution Fee

Execution fees are payable to the acceptance agent who collects your passport application, documents, and fees, and administers the oath you take stating that all of your documents are truthful. The non-refundable $35 fee pays for the services of the Passport Acceptance Agent and should be submitted separately from the passport fees.

All Passport Application Acceptance Facilities will accept a money order or bank draft for the $35 execution fee, and some will accept exact cash, personal checks, or debit cards. Be sure to check with your nearest Acceptance Facility about what forms of payment are acceptable when you call to make your appointment.

According to the CFR governing passport execution fees, the only circumstances under which execution fees will be refunded is if you were improperly charged. If you are exempt from passport fees and your passport was executed before a federal official, then you are exempt from passport execution fees. Therefore those charged execution fees when they were exempt from passport fees and applied to a federal official will have their execution fees refunded.

Passport Fee

Your passport fee, like the passport execution fee, is an application processing fee, so if you are unable to obtain a passport from the application and documents you submitted, your fees are non-refundable.

You can only be refunded passport fees if you were improperly charged under a passport fee exempt status. In other words, if you met the criteria for passport fee exemption and you were still charged, you are entitled to a refund.

U.S. citizens exempt from passport fees include an officer or employee of the U.S. government on official business abroad or the immediate family members of said officer, an American seaman on a U.S. flagged vessel doing your duties, a widow, widower, parent, child, brother, or sister of a deceased member of the Armed Forces whose grave, funeral, or memorial service is abroad, other people exempted by law, or those with any other reason the Department of State finds compelling, you are exempt from passport application fees. Being charged passport fees in these instances warrants a refund.

Security Surcharge Fee

Like all other passport fees, your inability to obtain a passport does not allow for a refund of the security surcharge fee. This non-refundable passport fee can only be refunded if you are exempt from paying the passport fee and the passport execution fee.

Exemption from those two fees automatically exempts you from the security surcharge fee. Therefore, if you were improperly charged a security surcharge fee while exempt from passport fees, you are entitled to a refund.

Expedite Passport Fee

You can request a refund for expedited passport service if you did not receive the services within the proper number of days, but understand that the Department of State may deny your request. Requests for refunds are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Since the expedited service commitment is calculated from the day the application arrives at the agency, you will need to call the National Passport Information Center to determine when your application was received. The toll-free number is 1-877-487-2778.

If I Qualify, How Do I Get a Refund for My Passport Fees?

You must submit requests for refund of passport fees in writing. The only exception to this is if you are seeking a Refund of Overpayment, and that refund is $5.00 or more.

For an overpayment, ask the cashier at the Passport Agency or Passport Application Acceptance Facility for a refund. He or she will verify the amount of overpayment and make a note on the first page of the application the amount to be refunded, the reason, and will then initial the note. The cashier will make a photocopy and send it to the Customer Service Manager, who will process the refund.

All other requests for refunds must be submitted in writing via mail, fax, or public counter to the Customer Service Manager, who will process the refund. Send your Email to RefundsAtPassportServices@State.gov with the following information:

  • Your full name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your mailing address

You can also request a refund by mailing the following address:

U.S. Department of State
Service Refund
2999 Passport PL
Washington, DC 20522-2999

How Do I Avoid Needing a Refund for My Passport Fees?

The best method for avoiding the hassle of trying to get a refund on your passport fees is to understand the various fee waivers and exemptions, determine if you qualify for either, and avoid overpaying in the first place. It's always much easier to do something right the first time than to try to fix it later, especially if you are under a time constraint.

Fee Exemptions

To ensure you don't overpay when applying for your U.S. passport, first check to see if you are eligible for passport fee exemptions under one of eight categories. Already mentioned are officers or employees of the U.S. government who are going abroad on official business and their families, U.S. citizen sailors with an assignment on a flagged U.S. vessel, and widows, widowers, parents, children, brothers, or sisters of a deceased U.S. military members.

Others include United Seamen's Service employees providing facilities or services for U.S. merchant seamen, Peace Corps volunteers, and American Red Cross employees assigned abroad. Those returning to the U.S. from humanitarian missions abroad may, at the designation of the Secretary, be exempt. Those returning to the U.S. for law enforcement purposes, or other categories of U.S. citizens exempted by law may also be exempt from passport fees.

Passport Fees Waived

Passport fees are waived for U.S. citizens repatriating to the United States when they have been issued emergency or limited-validity passports and a repatriation loan by a U.S. embassy or consulate. U.S. citizens who are victims of disasters or are evacuees abroad will have passport fees waived for emergency and limited-validity passports to get home.

Returning U.S. citizens whose passports are lost or stolen and are victims of serious crimes such as victims of sexual assault, hostages, or victims of terrorist acts will have passport fees waived. Those deported, extradited, or transferred as a prisoner back to the U.S. will also have their passport fees waived.

Other Fees Waived

A file search fee will be waived if you are applying for a passport abroad because yours was lost or stolen, or you are exempt from passport from passport fees. When replacement passports are issued in certain circumstances there may be no passport fees of any kind. Expedite fees may be waived if the Department of State caused the need for expediting the passport by their error or delay.

If you do not qualify for any passport fee exemptions or waivers, you will generally need to pay the standard passport application fees and will not be eligible for refunds whether or not you are able to obtain a U.S. passport unless you have overpaid.

Have you ever tried to get a refund of passport application fees for any reason? Tell us about it.

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Get answers to these questions and more in our Ultimate U.S. Traveler's Guide to Passport Expediters.

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About the Author: For over 20 years, the U.S. Passport Service Guide team has helped hundreds of thousands of travelers with their travel document questions and shared advice about how to make traveling abroad simpler, safer, and more enjoyable.

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