Know your rights



Passport gender change

In June 2010, the State Department announced a new policy to issue passports that reflect a person’s current gender when either a previous passport or other personal documentation presented by an applicant reflects a different gender. Under this policy, a transgender person can obtain a passport reflecting his or her current gender by submitting a certification from a physician confirming that he or she has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition. This policy replaces the Department’s old policy, which required documentation of sex reassignment surgery. In January 2011, the State Department made further improvements to its new policy.

Can I Get a Passport With My Current Gender?

Under the current policy, you can obtain a full ten-year passport with an updated gender marker if you have had clinical treatment determined by your doctor to be appropriate in your case to facilitate gender transition. No specific details are required about what type of treatment is appropriate for you.

Do I Need a Physician’s Certification?

Under the current policy, a physician certification is required if the documents you submit with your application, which may include a prior passport, driver’s license, birth certificate, or other documents, do not all reflect the correct gender. If all the documents you submit with your application reflect the correct gender, you may not need to submit a physician certification. See the application instructions below for more details.


Who Can Write a Letter to Certify Appropriate Treatment?

You will need a letter from a licensed physician with whom you have a doctor-patient relationship and who is familiar with your transition-related treatment. This may be any physician who is familiar with your treatment, including a primary care physician or specialist.


What Should the Physician Certification Include?

The State Department has provided the following model letter for physician certifications. All certifications must be on the physician’s office letterhead and include all of the information seen here, including the physician’s license or certificate number. You should ask your physician to use this letter and not give additional personal health information that is not included here.


I, Physician’s Full Name, Physician’s medical license or certificate number, Issuing U.S. State/Foreign Country of medical license/certificate, am the physician of Name of Patient, with whom I have a doctor/patient relationship and whom I have treated (or with whom I have a doctor/patient relationship and whose medical history I have reviewed and evaluated).

Name of Patient has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition to the new gender (specify new gender male or female).

I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States that the foregoing is true and correct.

Signature of Physician
Typed Name

You can download a sample physician letter here.


What is "appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition"?

People’s gender transition needs vary, and treatment options are decided between individuals and health care professionals on a case-by-case basis. The phrase “appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition” is meant to capture a range of treatments that may be appropriate, in each individual case, to facilitate gender transition. Clinical treatment methods are outlined in the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care, and treatment can include psychotherapy, changes in gender expression and role, hormone therapy, or surgery, or any combination thereof. No specific treatment is required, and details of your treatment need not be provided. In fact, NCTE encourages you and your provider to only state in the letter that you have had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition. Details about surgery, hormone treatment, or other treatments are unnecessary and not helpful.

The State Department will issue a limited, two-year passport with an updated gender based on a physician’s letter stating that the applicant “is in the process of gender transition.” We believe there is no reason for a transgender person to apply for the limited passport. However, if your physician will not state that you have had appropriate treatment, this option is open to you.

Does the State Department Need Other Medical Information?

Other than the required certification from your physician, there is no need to submit any additional details or documentation regarding your medical history or treatment. Your doctor does not need to certify that you have undergone any specific treatment or procedure and we recommend, for the sake your privacy, that they not do so.


Can Transgender Children Get Updated Passports?

The current policy applies to both adults and minors. All passport applications for minors are subject to special parental consent requirements. (These requirements apply to all minors, not just transgender minors.)


How Do I Apply for a Passport?


Updating Your Legal Name and Gender Marker on an Existing Valid Passport or Getting a Passport for the First Time

If you are applying to change your gender marker, submitting a passport application for the first time, or applying for a passport when your old passport has expired, you must apply in person.

You will need to complete and submit: 

  1. Application for U.S. Passport (Form DS-11);
  2. Proof of U.S. Citizenship (such as a previous U.S. Passport, certified Birth Certificate, Certificate of Naturalization, or Report of Birth Abroad);
  3. Proof of Identity that contains your signature and photograph that is “a good likeness to you” (such as a previous U.S. Passport, a Driver’s License, a Certificate of Naturalization, Military Identification, or a Government Employee Identification Card). You must present the original AND provide a photocopy of the front and back side with your application;
  4. A recent color photograph 2x2 inches in size;
  5. If you are changing your name on your passport, an Order for Name Change (certified copy showing a seal and officiate/judge signature);
  6. A letter from your Physician confirming your gender transition (the requirements for this letter are listed below); and
  7. Fee (See the Department of State fee schedule for costs:
Take these documents and fees in person to any Passport Acceptance Facility. To find the acceptance facility closest to you, visit the State Department’s website, Passport Acceptance Facility Search Page, at or call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778.
Updating Your Legal Name Only (no gender marker update) on an Existing Valid Passport

When you already have a valid Passport, you may submit a Passport Renewal Application to change your legal name on the passport by mail. You will need to complete and submit: 

  1. A Passport Renewal Application (Form DS-82);
  2. Your most recent Passport (book or card);
  3. A recent color photograph 2x2 inches in size;
  4. Order for Name Change (certified copy showing a seal and officiate/judge signature);
  5. Fee (See the Department of State fee schedule for costs:

What is a Passport Card and How Do I Apply For One?

A U.S. passport card is a wallet-sized card that looks like a driver’s license. A passport card is significantly less expensive than a traditional passport book but cannot be used for international travel by air. A passport card may be used as everyday identification within the United States and may be used to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry. Application forms and documentation requirements for a passport card are the same as for a passport book; simply check “passport book” on the application form.


How Do I Change a Limited Validity to a Full Validity Passport?

The State Department's policy still distinguishes between a transition that is “in process” and one that is “complete.” This distinction was originally intended for applicants who had recently begun a gender transition and needed documentation to travel abroad, before the requirement for undergoing a surgical procedure was removed. The language we recommend in our sample letter indicates to the Department of State that the transition is “complete.” However, if you submit a letter that indicates your transition is “in process” you will be issued a limited validity two-year passport. 

If you are issued a limited validity two-year passport, to extend to a full validity ten-year passport you should submit the following by mail within two years of the issue date of the limited validity two-year passport:

  • A completed Form DS5504, Application for a U.S. Passport (Name Change, Data Correction and Limited Passport Book Replacement), along with any necessary documentation indicated in the form;
  • A physician certification, as described in our sample, stating that you have had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition; and
  • Unless you request expedited service, no new fee is required.

You may mail in your application to the National Passport Processing Center or drop-off your completed application and required documentation to your local State Department Office.  Note that any documents you mail in will be returned if not damaged.  

By Mail, Routine Service: National Passport Processing Center, P.O. Box 90107, Philadelphia, PA 19190-0107

By Mail, Expedited Service (Additional Fee): National Passport Processing Center, P.O. Box 90907, Philadelphia, PA 19190-0107

In Person: To locate your local Passport Acceptance Facility, please visit

Can I update a Consular Record of Birth Abroad?

A Consular Record of Birth Abroad (CRBA) is the equivalent of a birth certificate for American citizens born abroad. The policy for passports also applies for updating a CRBA.

To Amend a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (FS-240), You Must Submit:

  1. A notarized written (or typed) request detailing the amendment or correction needed;
  2. Certified copies of documents justifying the amendment requested, in this case: a) court ordered name change, if applicable, and b) original letter from physician on letterhead (see template letter for passports above);
  3. The original FS-240, or a replacement FS-240, or a notarized affidavit stating the whereabouts of the original FS-240;
  4. A copy of requester’s valid identification;
  5. A $50.00 check or money order made payable to “Department of State”. The Department will assume no responsibility for cash lost in the mail.

Mail to:

Department of State
Passport Vital Records Section
44132 Mercure Cir.
PO Box 1213
Sterling, VA 20166-1213

To check the status of your FS-240 request, call 202-485-8300. You can find information about amendments on the State Department website here:

What If I Face Problems Updating my Passport?

The current policy specifically instructs passport specialists to treat transgender applicants with respect, including using appropriate pronouns and not asking unrelated questions. However if you encounter improper requests for information, unprofessional behavior, or other difficulties obtaining a passport, contact NCTE, your Regional Passport Office, or your U.S. Senator’s Office. NCTE is consistently monitoring implementation of this policy.

If you encounter discrimination, harassment or other serious difficulties relating to being transgender while traveling abroad, contact the closest U.S. Consulate or Embassy immediately.

Additional Resources

Full text of the new policy:
US State Department Foreign Affairs Manual, 7 FAM 300 Appendix M: Gender Change

US State Department Passport Home

US State Department, Change Your Name in Your Passport

US State Department, Frequently Asked Questions: Passports and Citizenship Documents

National Passport Information Center

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