United States passports are issued exclusively by the U.S. Department of State. These passports, which are booklets, are valid for travel by Americans anywhere in the world. United States passports conform with recommended standards (i.e. size, composition, layout, technology) of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The Department of State also issues passport cards, which are valid for travel by Americans via land and sea (not air) between the United States and Canada, between the United States and Mexico, between the United States and Bermuda, and between the United States and Caribbean destinations, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica (except for business travel), Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Turks and Caicos. Passport cards are not passports, because passport cards do not meet ICAO recommended standards for passport booklets.
Whichever the country of issuance, a passport proves the identity and nationality of the bearer. A passport is connected with the right of a national of the country which issued the passport to consular assistance from the issuing country while the national is abroad, and with the right of the national to enter the country of which is a national. However, the right to assistance does not arise from a passport, nor does the right to enter. Each of the rights arises from nationality.
It follows that a United States passport proves the United States nationality of the bearer, and, consequently, his right to assistance from United States consular officials overseas or his right to return to the United States, as the case may be. If a citizen does not have a passport (e.g., because it was stolen), and he can prove his United States nationality by another means (e.g., by providing information about himself), he will be entitled to consular assistance as a citizen or to enter the United States as a citizen, lack of a passport notwithstanding.
United States passports are issuable only to citizens and non-citizen nationals of the United States.All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States .Under this provision,United States means the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and, so, excludes a U.S. territory or possession.By acts of Congress, persons born in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands are United States citizens by birth. Other acts of Congress provide for acquisition of citizenship by persons born abroad.
Issuable to all citizens and non-citizen nationals. Periods of validity: for those age 16 or over, generally ten years from the date of issue; for those 15 and younger, generally five years from the date of issue. Illustration: cover above right. A sub-type of regular passports is no-fee passports, issuable to citizens in specified categories for specified purposes.
Every citizen is a national of the United States. Not every national is a citizen. There is a small class of American Samoans, born in American Samoa, including Swains Island, who are nationals but not citizens of the United States.See Passport message, below.United States law permits dual nationality. Consequently, having and using a foreign passport are permissible. When, however, a U.S. citizen uses a passport to leave or enter the United States, he is required to use a U.S. passport. This requirement extends to a U.S. citizen who is a dual national.
The Department of State does not get many requests for certificates of non-citizenship nationality, which are issuable by the department. Production of a limited number of certificates would be costly, and, if produced, certificates would have to meet security standards.
Accordingly, the Department of State chose not to issue certificates of non-citizen nationality. Instead, the department issues passports to non citizen nationals. An issued passport certifies the status of a non-citizen national.