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. Archive.org preserves the old 7 FAM 1300 Appendix R and itseasy.com 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.
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.