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State Department Testimony before the House Judiciary Committee


State Department Testimony before the House Judiciary Committee

Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims


Hearing on

John Muhammad and the Western Hemisphere Passport Exception

May 13, 2003, 2:00 p.m.


Sharon Palmer-Royston

Attorney Adviser, Chief of Passport Legal Office

Passport Services, Bureau of Consular Affairs



Mr. Chairman, Committee Members.


Thank you for inviting me to speak to this Committee about the exception to the general requirement that United States citizens carry a U.S. passport when entering and exiting the United States.††


The requirements are as follows:The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 in Section 215, Travel Documentation of Aliens and Citizens, subsection (b) relating to U.S. citizens, states that, unless otherwise provided, it is unlawful for U.S citizens to depart from or enter the United States unless they bear a valid U.S. passport.


By regulation, the Secretary of State provided that U.S. citizens are excepted from this requirement in a number of situations.The two major exceptions are when the U.S. citizen is traveling directly between parts of the United States; and, when traveling between the United States and any country, territory or island adjacent thereto, in North, South or Central America, excluding Cuba.


The other exceptions are for U.S. seamen and air crew carrying valid merchant mariner or air crew ID; for members of the U.S. armed forces on active duty; for certain minor members of the household of foreign or United Nations official employees; for children under 12 years old who are included in a parentís foreign passport if they are able to otherwise prove U.S. citizenship; for U.S. citizens carrying a card of citizenship and identity issued by a U.S. consul abroad; and, for individuals specifically authorized by the Secretary of State through appropriate official channels.The last exception is administered by officials at U.S. ports of entry.