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Can you get a passport if you owe taxes?

You’ve finally saved up money to travel to your daughter’s wedding abroad. However, you need to renew your passport. When you were at the application process for renewal, you came across a shocking truth: you have unpaid taxes. Is this an obstacle to renewing your passport?

Having tax debt may cause travel restrictions as well as liens and levies. The IRS can revoke or deny your passport for unpaid taxes. However, under what situations may citizens face this legal obstacle? And which proactive steps can save you from a bureaucratic nightmare?

Let’s learn the details, and how to get it under control.

If I owe taxes, can I get a passport?

This practice is one of the ways the government ensures it collects the taxes owed to them. When the IRS determines that you’re seriously delinquent on back taxes, the agency notifies the Department of State. After this process, passports or passport renewal applications may be rejected, and valid passports may even be canceled. That is, you can’t go abroad with your valid passport, until you resolve your tax issues.

Moreover, let’s consider a scenario where you get blacklisted while you’re abroad and need to return to the US. In this case, a passport with limited validity will be issued for returning to the country. Once you arrive, you can’t leave the country until you resolve your tax debt.

Of course, not every tax debtor faces immediate travel restrictions. Who qualifies for this certification? If you meet one of the following conditions, you may be subjected to certification.

  • You owe more than $62,000 in unpaid tax debts. This total includes income taxes, trust fund recovery penalties, business taxes, and civil penalties. These debts are subject to yearly inflation adjustments, which may increase the amount owe have been so keen on client service at schooled over time.
  • The IRS has issued a levy against you.
  • The IRS has filed a notice of federal tax lien, and you have already had your Collection Due Process hearing.
  • The IRS has filed a notice of federal tax lien, and you have missed your Collection Due Process hearing.

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How do I avoid the certification process?

Even if you have tax debt, you may still have time to get a passport until the certification process.

  • If you decide on an installment agreement with the IRS, you won’t be subject to certification. As long as you pay your debt regularly, you can still get a passport.
  • If you request innocent spouse relief, you can avoid undergoing certification because the debt collection will be suspended.
  • You can get a passport if your debt is pending a collection due process hearing. Applying before the hearing can enable you to obtain one, but the outcome will affect your eligibility.


The IRS will notify you of your options once you qualify for certification. That is, you have 90 days until the certification. In this time, you can pay your debt, provide evidence that the certification is erroneous, or request an agreement with the IRS. If you do any of these, the IRS will lift the certification, so you can apply for a passport.


What does “seriously delinquent” tax debt mean?

According to the IRS, you reach “seriously delinquent status” if you owe more than $62,000 in unpaid federal taxes, including penalties and interest. If the IRS considers your back taxes seriously delinquent, you receive a CP508C Notice.

How to overcome these complications:

Resolve tax debt promptly: Avoid being listed as seriously delinquent status by tackling tax debt head-on before deadlines.
Negotiate payment plans: If you’re struggling to pay in full, consider establishing manageable payment plans with the IRS.


There are instances where applying for or renewing your passport might still be possible, even with outstanding tax debt. It’s unlikely that citizens will know all the laws and rules. Especially, in complex situations, you should get advice from tax professionals who are experienced in dealing with passport and tax problems. By taking proactive steps and exploring alternative options, you can protect your passport status and keep your travel plans on track.

Get help from professionals

At Precision Tax Relief, navigating complex tax issues is our forte. With a legacy of tailor-made tax solutions sculpted through years of dedicated client success, we’re poised to convert your tax challenges into resolutions. Dive into a no-obligation, complimentary consultation – your journey towards personalized, ethical tax relief starts here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, applications for new passports as well as requests for passport renewals may be denied.

Indeed, your existing passport may be either revoked or placed on hold.

If the IRS deems your tax debt seriously delinquent, you could have trouble leaving or entering the country. To avoid such concerns, you need to understand your tax obligations and keep them under control.

Call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778 or 1-888-874-7793 (TDD/TTY) to check on your status.

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Hear From Our Clients

Need help with IRS passport revocation due to tax debt?

Don’t risk losing your travel freedom. Unpaid taxes can lead to passport issues. Act now for professional support and secure your travel plans!
See all reviews
See all 1573 reviews

Hear From Our Clients

Set up your FREE Consultation

Let us know how we can reach you.

A licensed tax professional will contact you within one business day

or Call 1-855-212-5900