Naturalization and Citizenship

Duplicate U.S. Passport: Do American Expats in China Need One?

Duplicate U.S. PassportDo American expats in China need a duplicate U.S. passport? The Public Security Bureau holds your main passport for 15 working days when you apply for a residence permit, which can cause many hassles.

The U.S. State Department may issue you a duplicate U.S. passport if

a passport needed for immediate travel is unavailable due to prolonged delays in processing a foreign visa application, or some other foreign governmental process for which the passport was required … or the need to obtain multiple visas on a current or ongoing basis, e.g., flight personnel for international airlines, executives of multi-national companies, or international journalists.

The State Department gives the example that “reporters assigned to the White House frequently need three passports at a time to keep up the the foreign visa demands.”

Reuters recently reported that the longer PSB processing times, effective September 1, have irked expats and the companies employing them in China. Expats need to show passports for international and domestic travel by plane or train, hotel check-in and temporary residence registration, banking, getting a SIM card for a mobile phone, and other routine activities. (While some PSB officials have stated that acceptance notices can be used for domestic travel, transportation authorities have made no such announcement.)

A duplicate U.S. passport may be helpful for dealing with some of these matters while your main one is held by the PSB.

Applicants for a second passport need to submit the following documents at a domestic passport agency or center or overseas U.S. consular post:

1. A Form DS-11 (Application for a U.S. Passport) or Form DS-82 (Application for a Passport by Mail), as appropriate;
2. A signed, written statement giving the reason(s) why the second passport is required, and attesting that the loss of either passport will be reported immediately to Passport Services or to the nearest U.S. embassy, consulate or consular agency. (Here’s a sample);
3. Acceptable evidence of U.S. citizenship/nationality and acceptable evidence of identity. The applicant is not required to submit his/her regular passport. However, if the applicant does not submit her/his regular passport, he/she must apply on Form DS-11;
4. One photograph; and
5. Passport application fee.

Second passports are issued at the State Department’s discretion and “not for the convenience of a traveler” or to help “conceal previous trips  … for the purpose of perpetrating a fraud against the foreign government.” (But the State Department has a soft spot for missionaries whose main passport was blacklisted by a foreign country for illegally proselytizing).

Second passports are limited to two-years’ validity and may not be extended.

Will this become the latest accessory for American expats in China? What’s in your wallet?

Questions or Feedback?

If you have any questions or feedback about this article, feel free to use the below comments section. Or for legal representation, contact our law firm or schedule a consultation.

5 replies on “Duplicate U.S. Passport: Do American Expats in China Need One?”


Great post as usual. Thank you.

Can this duplicate passport be applied for and obtained at the US Embassy in Beijing?


Yes. Applications for a second passport may apply at a domestic passport agency or center or overseas U.S. consular post (in China, that’s the U.S. Embassy in Beijing or the U.S. Consulates in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Chengdu, or Shenyang. The U.S. Consulate in Wuhan is not equipped/staffed to handle passport applications. American citizens in the region should contact the Embassy in Beijing).

When you stay at a hotel, don’t they need to photocopy your passport as well as your visa? The duplicate passport wouldn’t have a visa in it, right? So you would probably not be able to stay at a hotel.

Booking flights, train tickets etc. should be no problem though.

Dom: According to the Beijing PSB, local hotels (or police stations) should be able to register your accommodation with just the acceptance notice from PSB showing you filed the application for a visa or residence permit (受理回执). But, as a PSB officer recently told China Daily, the purposes for which the acceptance receipt can be used are currently under review by multiple government agencies. So, would both the acceptance notice and a duplicate passport be more likely to help you register? Perhaps. But you’ve got a good point that neither has the visa information (or the entry stamp) usually required for registration.

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