The Impact of Child Support Arrears on U.S. Passport Eligibility

In the United States, certain legal obligations, such as child support, can have an impact on one’s immigration status and eligibility for certain federal benefits. One aspect that often goes unnoticed is how owing child support can affect one’s ability to obtain or renew a U.S. passport. Today, we’re delving into this critical topic to provide essential information for anyone dealing with child support issues.

The $2,500 Threshold

According to the U.S. Department of State, you cannot get a passport if you owe child support of $2,500 or more. This rule can cause significant disruption for individuals planning to travel abroad for work, leisure, or family matters.

Clearing Your Arrears

To be eligible for a passport, you must first pay up any outstanding child support. This entails making appropriate preparations to repay the amount owed. Payments should be made to the proper state child support enforcement agency, which varies by jurisdiction.

Steps After Paying Off Arrears

Once you’ve made plans to pay your child support arrears, the state child support enforcement agency will notify the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of your compliance. It can take 2-3 weeks for the HHS to process this information and remove your name from their list of individuals owing child support.

Verification and Passport Application

After your name has been removed from the HHS list, the U.S. Department of State will then verify this information. Only after these steps have been successfully completed can your passport application be processed.

Key Takeaways

  1. Owing $2,500 or more in child support makes you ineligible for a U.S. passport.
  2. Pay off your child support arrears through the state’s child support enforcement agency.
  3. Wait for verification from HHS and the U.S. Department of State before proceeding with your passport application.


Child support arrears can have a considerable impact on your life, including your ability to travel internationally. If you find yourself in a situation where child support payments are affecting your passport eligibility, it is crucial to act quickly to resolve the issue. Consult legal professionals well-versed in immigration and family law to navigate this complex terrain efficiently.

For more updates on immigration law and how it intersects with various aspects of daily life, stay tuned to our blog.