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Obtaining Two Passports: When You Need Them and How To Get Them

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Last Updated on June 3, 2024 by Leslie Stroud

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Just one week ago, our worst nightmare (non-injury or death-related) happened.  We had ALL of our most important documents in one place after our visa application appointment in San Francisco, CA and you guessed it, it was all stolen.

Our lives fell out from under us, suddenly.  We had gone into a park and left this crucial box in the car (our fault).  During the 30 or so minutes that we were playing, someone broke into the car and took it all: Our 14 passports, luggage, wallet, Visa application papers, tech, etc.  All gone.  (Their fault)

I quickly posted the event to my IG stories, pleading for prayers.  I’m a huge believer in the power of prayer, especially group prayers, and it worked.  I’m now sitting on our flight to Brazil just a few days later.  To call it a miracle is a small way to say it!

After the incident, many people asked a very valid question; Why did we have 14 passports to travel with seven people to begin with?  I am here to explain the reasoning.

Why You Might Need a Second Passport

We first learned about this option when we were facing a difficult dilemma last year.  We needed to travel through Australia and back to the US, while ALSO applying for a visa.  Visa applications are the most common reason for needing a second passport.

Our Portuguese Visa Application can take anywhere from 4-12 weeks to process.  While it is not required that we immediately send the passports with the application, they can be requested at any time and should be provided to the consulate within 48 hours.

Since we already had plans to go to Brazil, we knew we were going to need two sets of passports.

The other tricky part is that you are required to apply for visas no more than 90 days before the intended arrival.  Without second passports, we would have to stay domestic for all 12 weeks, which was just not our game plan!

What You Cannot Use a Second Passport For:

While it might be tempting, you cannot use a second passport for any of the following reasons:

  • To get into a country you’ve been banned from.  Slipping in with a new passport number is not allowed and will not work.
  • To elude a previous criminal record.

How To Obtain a Second Passport

I was very surprised at how easy it was to obtain a second passport. It sounds incredibly difficult but in reality, it’s quite simple.

Check out our favorite passport holder to keep all of our passports in one place.

Steps to Apply for a Second Passport as an Adult:

  1. Obtain 2 passport photos of yourself.
  2. Fill out and complete the same application as a new passport.
  3. Handwrite or type a short letter explaining why you need a second passport.  Our was a simple as this:
  • Date
  • To Whom It May Concern: We are applying for a second passport in order to apply for visas to Portugal and also travel to Brazil.  One set needs to be used to send with our visa application and the second set for International travel.
  • Signature
  1. Include a check for payment.
  2. Include proof of your citizenship and ID.  Your brith certificate and a copy of your Driver’s License should do it.  Sending your original passport also works, but beware that you’ll be without a passport for a while and might not get them back in time.  (This happened to me)
  3. Mail it to the address on the application.

A few items to note:

  • You do need to have international travel plans before applying. You will need to put the date of travel on your application. 
  • Due to COVID, processing times are horrendous.  Plan on 1-4 months to process this application.  If you get in a pickle and have international travel within 72 hours and no passport, you do have some limited options.  Read about those here.
  • While these applications MUST be done in person with a local passport processing office for minors, they CANNOT be processed this way for adults.  You have to mail in all adult applications.  I went to process applications for the kids and myself, but they would not accept mine to mail with the kids;  I had to send it myself.

Steps To Apply for A Second Passport for a Minor

  1. Obtain 2 passport photos for each minor.
  2. Fill out and complete the same application as a new passport.  NOTE: DO NOT SIGN.  This has to be done in front of an official.
  3. Include the minor’s original birth certificate, with both parent’s info on the certificate.  
  4. You also need a copy of their birth certificate.  The copy will not be returned, but the original will.
  5. BOTH parents must appear, at the same time, in front of the office when applying.  If both parents cannot make it, read more here.
  6. To find a local passport office and complete the process, search here.  (It can be at a local post office or we used our county passport office in Utah.)
  7. Appear in person with the child and both parents.  Sign the application in front of the official.
  8. Include a check for processing.
  9. The office which you apply at in-person will mail the application for you.

Remember to note:

  • You do need international travel plans to get a second passport.  You put the travel date on the application.
  • Due to Covid, processing times are horrendous.  Plan on 1-4 months to process this application.  If you get in a pickle and have international travel within 72 hours and no passport, you do have some limited options.  Read about those here.

How Long Are Second Passports Valid For?

Second passports are more limited than first passport.  The maximum is four years, but it can be shorter.

When we got Chris’ second passport in New Zealand, it was only valid for two years.

Note:  Minor passports are only good for a maximum of five years, anyway.

Other Advice to Note When Applying for a Second Passport:

  • It’s best not the keep both sets of passports together (we learned that the hard way when all 14 of our were stolen at once).
  • Do not present both passports to officials at customs.  Only present one passport, even if you have both in your possession.
  • If any are stolen, report immediately here.
  • If you are getting a visa that will be valid for a few years, make sure to submit your passport with the furthest expiration when applying.  If a passport expires, but the visa is still valid, you will have to carry your expired passport as well.
    • For example, a Chinese visa is good for 10 years.  This is probably longer than the passport it is issued into.  

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Additional Reading






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