Can a person with mental illness be denied a passport?

Question by Yvette B: Can a person with mental illness be denied a passport?
I have a friend with a severe mental illness and she would like to travel to Israel. She’s been court committed once, but hasn’t been a threat to herself (she was starving herself) for almost three years. Do you have to be experiencing symptoms severe enough to be hospitalized or just have ANY mentally illness to be denied a passport? Any help in this regard would be most appreciated!

Best answer:

Answer by Uncle
They can be denied on the grounds of health and sanity

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6 Comments so far »

  1. bran said,

    Wrote on May 4, 2012 @ 3:30 am

    If someone is considered a threat to themselves or others then yes it can very well be denied on that cause

  2. Pixie said,

    Wrote on May 4, 2012 @ 3:33 am

    If she’s Jewish and she wants to travel to Israel she could be a serial killer and they’d offer her the moon to immigrate there.

  3. Go AZ said,

    Wrote on May 4, 2012 @ 3:48 am


    Even if you are mentally retarded, or any physical affliction, you cannot be denied a US passport on those grounds. If she is not competent to sign for herself, the guardian – with suitable paperwork, would sign in her stead. If she can swear/affirm that the statements are true and that she is who she says she is and she can sign the application – and has all the other necessary documentation, she can have a passport.

    A Passport identifies you as a US citizen to a foreign government and facilitates your entry into the US. It does not say anything about what kind of a person your are, your financial status, your legal status, or your marital status. Or your religious status either.

    That’s why people, as part of bail, may have to surrender their passport. Nothing IN the passport relates to anything but proof of citizenship.

    You do not need a visa to go to Israel, so unless she wigs out in Israeli customs leave the US, on the plane, or in Customs in Israel, there should be no problem.

    If a person is significantly impaired, they could be denied boarding by the airline, unless they had a physician’s statement.

  4. Mrs. H said,

    Wrote on May 4, 2012 @ 4:22 am

    I believe she won’t have a problem as long as she has a guardian with her but I am not sure contact a physician or her travel agent or a lawyer to get the best answer for her situation. Mrs H

  5. going_for_baroque said,

    Wrote on May 4, 2012 @ 4:54 am

    You want to keep your friend from going to Israel by using her mental condition as justification, right? Won’t work. A passport is proof of identity and citizenship. If she can prove her citizenship and that she is who she says she is, she’ll get her passport.

    If you get an attorney and go to the right court, you might get traction in having her committed again. Part of that order might include barring her from getting a passport, but that’s a whole other can of worms. Until such an order exists, she has the same right you and I do to get a passport and go anywhere we want.

    If you’re still concerned after she gets her passport, contact the US consulate in Israel and see if they’ll keep an eye on her. But it’s a chicken-and-egg thing: They won’t get concerned until *after* she’s done something harmful to herself. I knew a kid (young adult) who put some granola in his pocket and began walking from San Diego to La Paz, Mexico. No one could do anything because walking is legal, both in the US and Mexico. Stupid? Dangerous? Impossible? Sure, all of the above. But not illegal. That’s where your friend is now- wanting something that could lead to harm, but until she harms herself, no one can do much. … Take care!

  6. Brother_Hesekiel said,

    Wrote on May 4, 2012 @ 4:57 am

    Getting a passport is not a right, but a privilege, just like a driver’s license, so even a person who is as sane as it gets can be denied a passport.

    So the correct answer to your question in one word would be “YES.”

    That said, illness, as long as it’s not contageous, is not a valid reason to deny anyone a passport. If she has open TBC, two heads with three eyes each, or had failed to pay child support . . . . those are valid reasons.

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