The US Department of State will not issue a passport renewal to individuals whose passports are significantly damaged. Instead, applicants will have to request a new passport and go through the process as though they’ve never received a passport before.
This begs the question, what constitutes “significant damage”? The State Department provides the following explanation on their website:
“If your passport has been significantly damaged, especially the book cover or the page displaying your personal data and photo, you will need to apply for a new passport. Damage that might require you to replace your passport includes water damage, a significant tear, unofficial markings on the data page, missing visa pages (torn out), a hole punch, or other injuries.
Normal ‘wear and tear’ of a U.S. passport is expected and likely does not count as ‘damage.’ For instance, normal wear includes the bend of a passport after being carried in your back pocket or fanning of the visa pages after extensive opening and closing.”
While this is somewhat helpful, it still leaves a lot open to interpretation. How much damage to the cover or data page is required to be considered damaged? When does “normal wear and tear” cross the threshold and become “damage”? Who determines what a “significant tear” is?
For some of these issues, we can provide clearer guidelines, however, there will remain some factors that are subjective and will depend on the Federal Government’s opinion.
Here are some examples of things that qualify as damaged no matter what:
Here are some examples of things that generally will NOT qualify as damage: