A mutilated passport can bring your next trip to a quick halt. A severely damaged passport is no longer valid. It can’t be used for travel, and it can’t even be used to prove your identity and US citizenship. Passports that are badly damaged enough to be considered mutilated need to be replaced via the Mutilated Passport procedure. (G3 can help you get this done in a flash!)
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if your passport is truly mutilated, or if it’s just looking worn from being carted around on all your travels. If you have a mutilated passport, you’ll definitely need to replace it before your next trip, but even if your passport isn’t that badly damaged, it’s still a good idea to replace it. Worn-out passports can be replaced by doing an early passport renewal.
So is your passport in bad enough shape to fall into the “mutilated passport” category? Let’s look at some common types of passport damage.
Passport Cover Damage
- Passport cover is loose or fell off. No question – this is a mutilated passport!
- Passport cover has hanging threads at the edges. This is minor damage, but enough that you should apply for a passport renewal.
- Passport cover has stickers on it. If you had stickers put on your passport by a visa expediting service or airport security, that’s no problem. It’s not considered to be damage at all. We don’t recommend decorating your passport with your own stickers, though!
- Passport cover has been cut or trimmed. Any cuts on your passport cover will render your passport mutilated.
- Passport cover is bent or curved. Have you been carrying your passport in your back pocket and sitting on it? If your passport has developed a curve, you may want to replace it with a passport renewal, but it’s not mutilated.
Damage to the Information Page
- Peeling plastic on the information page. This used to be a big problem, but US passports have been redesigned to try to prevent this problem. However, if the page with your photo starts to delaminate, you’ve got a mutilated passport on your hands. Replace it now.
- Unauthorized markings on the information page. If anyone has marked your information page other than a US State Department official, you will need to do a Mutilated Passport replacement.
- Water damage on the information page. Has your passport gotten wet? The information page has a polycarbonate coating that should protect it from falling apart in water, but if mildew develops under the lamination, you should replace your passport. If it’s very mild, you may be able to renew your passport, but you will likely be required to use the mutilated passport procedure.
Damage to Internal Pages
- Torn pages. If any page of your passport gets torn, sorry – your passport is officially mutilated.
- Cut pages. Just like torn pages, if any of your passport pages are partially or completely cut, your passport is now mutilated.
- Unauthorized markings. Did your kid doodle on a passport page? As long as it wasn’t the information page or a page with a visa, you will likely be able to replace your passport with an early passport renewal.
- Worn or curling edges of the pages. After your passport has been around the world a few times, the edges of the pages might soften, like those of a much-loved book. This damage isn’t bad enough to be considered mutilated, but you should renew your passport to get a fresh book. You probably are running low on blank visa pages by now, too!