Second US Passports Now Valid for 4 Years – Handy for Business and Frequent Travel

In a move that has been hinted for two years, Second US Passports are now valid for 4 years. There was no official announcement, however Caroline Lupini just got one and it came back with 4-year validity instead of the prior 2-year.

She and I had been nagging the State Department representatives that appear annually at the NYT Travel Show. I had to give in and get a new one in February, which is 2-year.

3.5 years is better than 1.5

Many countries require a passport to have validity of 6 months from date of entry, so every passport effectively loses a half-year of validity upon issuance. 1.5 was really constraining.

Why get a Second US Passport? It’s not just for nuts

The principle value is for frequent travelers such as businesspeople that may need to submit a passport for time-consuming visa applications, while in the interim need to make other travels.

There is also the value of putting stamps in one that might cause issues when later entering another country. The classic example is Israel stamps prompting certain countries to deny entry. Israel no longer stamps passports, instead giving colored slips.

The other cases are not mainstream and unpredictable, such as Armenia and Azerbaijian stamps when traveling to the other. Or Liberia or Sierra Leone stamps during the Ebola crisis.

How to get a Second US Passport?

The process is much the same as a passport renewal. You do the same forms, fees and procedures, then additionally need to submit a signed statement listing the reason of the request.

See 7 FAM 1300 Appendix R for the full details and sample statement in Exhibit 1. The State Department has taken this offline as of 6/2/16 so updates must be in the works. preserves the old 7 FAM 1300 Appendix R and has the Exhibit 1 statement.

Like a renewal you can mail it in, go to a US Passport Regional Agency or use a passport service. I personally recommend either visiting an agency or using a competent service. This is a non-standard task in a high volume business. Things can go wrong.

When I got one in New York in 2013 the agency officer put post-its notes on my current passport saying “DO NOT CANCEL THIS PASSPORT,” which is what would happen in a normal renewal and then I would be out of luck.

Second US Passport

In 2016 in Minneapolis the agency mistakenly made mine 1-year validity. I immediately noticed it and they printed off a new one in 15 minutes. (No, they didn’t let me keep the 1-year one as a bonus.)

What about Global Entry?

Once you have the second passport, you can walk in to a Global Entry enrollment center without an appointment and they can input the second passport. Both will be valid for future use. From then on, should you renew either passport, you can update the information online in the GOES system.

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  • You can actually just add it to your GOES profile online. I did that with my last two without a problem!

  • @Charlie – even your first second passport? Did you have a second passport when you signed up for Global Entry? I got my second later, had to have it manually entered and since then have been ok to do it online. That was 2013, maybe system has improved.

  • john

    4 years is definitely better and starts to make me consider getting one. I still dont get why they cant just do full validity like some European countries.
    Do you have any experience with the six month rule being enforced at immigration anywhere (or by the airline)?

    So, how difficult is Equatorial Guinea? You make it sound easy. The Bradt makes it sound hard (additional permits that take weeks in addition to the tourist visa; plus very hard to get tourist visa). Is it out of date already?

  • @john – only confirmed case I can recall is a bunch of Americans heading to Kenya on safari denied boarding by hard-asses at KLM in AMS. They had already gotten to AMS and if reaching NBO I am sure it would have been fixed. Usually the issues I worry are over-zealous agents like that. When I flew Ethiopian from Dubai to South Sudan, I got all kinds of grilling over my visa on arrival invitation letter.

    Equatorial Guinea will need a separate post. The visa-free entry for US citizens worked at Cogo. Every police checkpoint wants to see a visa and it is a big pain to convince them one is not needed. I didn’t try for the required tourist permit, no time. It was not an issue for my day in Rio Muni, could easily saying transiting to Bata. In Bioki, once outside Malabo it was a problem and I couldn’t take pictures and was hassled at every checkpoint and village. Never had to pay anything. One policeman who smelled like he shat himself…days ago, flipped out when I couldn’t speak Spanish. The rest were calm.

  • Charlie

    @Stefan Yes, it was my first 2nd and it was in early 2013 as well. I thought I had to go in and called the agents in JFK and they said to just go online and do it.

  • Dave

    Are you advocating people conceal they were in an ebola-afflicted country if it suits their purposes?

  • @Dave – I should not have left that hanging. The specific issue is the TIMATIC database airlines use for entry requirements is not always up to date, I ran into this issue in March where several African countries in the system list not allowing entry from people who have been in Liberia and/or Sierra Leone which is out of date and not an issue on arrival in the mandatory health inspection, which I do not advocate concealing any relevant health information. The issue, like changing or unclear visa policies, is if a departure airport staff takes it upon themselves to make the decision rather than the authorized local authorities. In my recent case one passport had Liberia, one Sierra Leone because I got the visas at the same time in Ghana, and neither was taken as cause to reject me for other countries.