FACT CHECK: Is It Illegal to Own Multiple Passports?

Kush Desai | Fact Check Reporter

CNN host Brooke Baldwin expressed surprise Wednesday amid news that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort owned three passports. “That cannot be legal,” she remarked during a segment.

The Daily Caller News Foundation decided to investigate whether it’s illegal for Americans to have multiple passports.

Verdict: False

Possession of multiple passports is legal, but only if authorized and issued by the State Department.

Fact Check:

Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller indicted Manafort Oct. 30 as part of an ongoing probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Subsequent media reports and court documents characterized Manafort as a “frequent international traveler” with “substantial ties abroad.” Court documents also revealed that he had three U.S. passports.

Although Baldwin expressed skepticism about the legality of the practice, U.S. nationals can be issued and legally possess multiple passports.

The Code Of Federal Regulations (CFR) makes clear that “no person may bear more than one valid passport of the same type,” but there are notable exceptions where the State Department will issue a second passport for ordinary Americans.

Currently, U.S. nationals can apply for a second passport by filing a form with the State Department, along with a signed letter explaining its necessity.

These passports are issued by the State Department for one of two specific purposes: to enable international travel to countries that do not recognize the sovereignty of Israel or to accommodate other countries’ visa application procedures.

Countries like Lebanon deny entry to foreigners who have Israeli stamps in their passports. A second passport enables American travelers who have recently visited Israel to enter these countries.

A second passport can also enable Americans to travel abroad when their first passport has been submitted to another country’s embassy or consulate for visa approval procedures. (Paper visas often need to be physically attached to passports).

Beyond these very specific circumstances, it is unusual for the State Department to issue multiple passports to individuals.

Talking to CNN, the owner of a New York-based passport and visa expediting company explained that “having three valid U.S. passports is incredibly unusual and normally would raise a red flag.”

There’s much we still don’t know about Manafort’s passports. Nonetheless, according to a State Department statement, more than one can be requested and approved on a “case-by-case basis.”

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Kush Desai

Fact Check Reporter

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