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What should I do if my passport is significantly damaged?

Realizing your passport is significantly damaged can bring about a wave of worry, especially with impending travel plans. A passport that's water-damaged, torn, or otherwise in poor condition may not be accepted by airlines or immigration authorities, potentially derailing your international travel. Here's a comprehensive guide on how to address the issue and ensure your travel plans remain intact.

Damaged Passport

Understanding Passport Damage

First, it’s important to differentiate between normal wear and significant damage. Normal wear might include slight bends or frayed edges, generally considered acceptable. However, significant damage refers to conditions that impair the identification page's legibility, alter the physical integrity of the passport, or render electronic data unreadable. This includes water damage, significant tears, unauthorized markings, and other alterations that could question the document's authenticity.

Immediate Steps to Take

1. Assess the Damage: Take a close look at your passport. If the photo, personal information, or any visa pages are affected, it's likely considered significantly damaged.

2. Do Not Attempt Repairs: Avoid the temptation to repair your passport, as this can further invalidate the document. Adhesives, tape, or other materials used in an attempt to fix tears or damages could complicate your situation.

How to Proceed with a Damaged Passport

1. Report the Damage: Unlike lost or stolen passports, there’s no formal requirement to report a damaged passport to the U.S. Department of State. However, you will need to explain the damage when you apply for a replacement.

2. Apply for a Replacement Passport:

  • Complete Form DS-11: You’ll need to fill out a new application form, as damaged passports require a full replacement.

  • Prepare Documentation: Along with your damaged passport, bring proof of U.S. citizenship (such as a birth certificate if available), a valid photo ID, and a new passport photo that meets the current requirements.

  • Visit a Passport Acceptance Facility: Submit your application in person at a passport acceptance facility. Find the nearest location via the U.S. Department of State’s website.

  • Pay the Applicable Fees: Replacement passports carry a fee, which you’ll need to pay upon submitting your application.

Tips for a Smooth Replacement Process

  • Expedite Your Application if Necessary: If you have imminent travel plans, consider requesting expedited processing for an additional fee to receive your passport more quickly.

  • Document Your Travel Plans: Having proof of upcoming travel can sometimes help expedite your application without the expedited service fee, especially if you're applying directly at a regional passport agency.


A significantly damaged passport is more than an inconvenience; it's a potential barrier to international travel. By understanding the steps to take for a replacement and seeking professional assistance when needed, you can navigate this challenge efficiently. State Document is here to support you through this process, offering expertise and services tailored to your needs, ensuring you’re ready for your next journey with a valid passport in hand.


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