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All You Need to Know about the US Emergency Passport

by Pilar Dujan | August 29, 2023
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What is a limited validity passport?

An US emergency passport, also called temporary passport or limited validity passport, is a specific kind of travel document issued by the US State Department. 

It was created for citizens of the issuing country that are abroad and have lost or damaged their own passport and are thus stranded.

An emergency passport cannot be renewed, it’s only issued for specific reasons and time periods.

How long does your emergency passport last?

An emergency passport is valid only for one year or less (usually for one or two days) and does not have an electronic chip as the rest of US passports. 

They are usually issued to fulfill one specific trip and, once done, the temporary passport will stop being valid and the holder will be expected to apply for a regular passport. You’re obligated to forfeit your emergency passport when you arrive in the US.

If you visit the website of the State Department, you will be able to check if your destination country accepts a limited validity passport.

When do you need a temporary passport for USA?

The most common reasons to ask for a US emergency passport are:

  • Expiration of the previous passport
  • The regular passport was lost, stolen or damaged while traveling abroad

But these are not the only reasons. If you’re traveling abroad and you run into one of these situations, you may be eligible to apply for a limited validity passport:

  • Illness or death of an immediate family member
  • Legal issues
  • Military service
  • Personal illness that requires hospitalization in another country

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Application process for a limited validity passport

The process to obtain an emergency passport can be different if you apply abroad or within the US.

Applying for an emergency passport while abroad

You will need to go to your nearest Embassy or consulate and present the following documentation to apply for a US emergency passport:

  • A passport-sized picture of the applicant with a white background
  • ID or driver’s license
  • Travel ticket for whatever means of transportation you used
  • Proof of citizenship. For example, your birth certificate or a photocopy of the previous passport (if possible)
  • A police report showing that your passport was reported stolen/missing
  • A filled application form
  • You will also need to pay the fees as established by the US government

Applying for an emergency passport inside the US

Most requisites are identical if you apply abroad or within the US:

  • A passport-sized picture of the applicant with a white background
  • ID or driver’s license
  • Proof of citizenship, like your birth certificate or a photocopy of the previous passport
  • A filled application form
  • Payment for the fees

However, there are some special requirements such as:

  • Proof of the reasons for the emergency trip
  • A travel itinerary (when applicable)

Applying for an emergency passport for a minor

Whether you’re abroad or still inside the US, if you need to apply for a temporary passport for a child, you will need to provide proof of parentage (or legal guardianship if applicable).

If the parents are separated or divorced, you will also need to provide proof of custody.

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Can you travel everywhere with a limited validity passport?

No. As the name says, an emergency passport is issued in case of emergencies. The goal is to help the holder fulfill a specific trip. The validity of the passport will be the minimum necessary to achieve that.  

If you are traveling abroad and you need an emergency passport to return to the US, the immigration officers will keep your temporary passport when you arrive.

They will also keep it when you return if you apply still inside the US, meaning that you need to leave the country with your temporary passport and then go back. 

How long does it take to get an emergency passport?

It depends on the situation. Under extreme circumstances, it can be issued on the same day you applied on. 

However, it’s more likely you will receive it within two or three days after the application is approved, although it can take over a week in some situations.