The US Purple Passport: All You Need to Know
January 2, 2024
3 min. read
There are a few types of American passports for traveling overseas, including a next-generation passport, official passport, diplomatic passport, etc. There can be a little confusion with the passport colors, types, and purposes.
With a US purple passport, we often refer to an emergency or temporary passport. So, why would you need a United States purple passport, and what does it mean?
Let’s put all the pieces together.
What is a US purple passport?
A purple US passport is a limited-validity document that US citizens obtain in special circumstances. It has less validity than an average passport which is 10 years for those older than 16 and 5 years for minors under 16. The passport has a purple passport cover and allows you to travel abroad.
The application process and the supporting documents may vary depending on the reasons for passport issuance. The processing time is very short for such passports, and it’s helpful for life-or-death situation applications for international travel.
Please note that sometimes you can get a purple US passport when you reside or travel abroad. You can address the accompanying letter for more information on the reasons for such passport issuance.
If you haven’t applied for your passport yet, then you can get ready in no time by taking, for example, a compliant Walmart passport photo of 2×2 inches in size online (1) and by filling out the required form at https://pptform.state.gov/ (2).
What does the US purple passport mean?
When you get a purple passport, that means that the validity of your passport is limited. All the rest of the passport features are the same.
There are a few reasons why the passport date of expiration can be reduced. If you’re in the US, they may list:
- Pending the replacement of your naturalization certificate,
- Selecting a new gender marker,
- Name change.
If you’re outside the United States, your limited passport is issued in an emergency. For example, if your regular passport is lost, stolen, damaged, or expired.
Additionally, there are circumstances when you need to travel urgently to a foreign country while in the US. Then, you can apply for a purple US passport. You will need to have documents that support your emergency circumstances.
You can make a life-or-death emergency service appointment with one of the passport agencies in the US if one of your immediate family members is in a life-threatening condition abroad.
Here, you apply for a passport book, not a passport card which only a regular passport implies. If you have an urgent official business or other circumstances, you need to apply for a different document, rather than a US purple temporary passport.
How to apply for a purple US passport?
Unlike green passports issued by the US Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services, US emergency purple passports are issued by the Department of State through life-or-death emergency and urgent travel services. There is no charge for making an appointment. It’s available only by phoning in advance 1-877-487-2778. If you are deaf or have a hearing impairment, please call 1-888-874-7793.
You can’t get an appointment if you visit the passport agency spontaneously. You can’t “pass on” your slot to another person.
You can find more information on the official website of the US Department of State at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/get-fast/emergencies.html
Purple United States passport and processing times
Traditionally, the US State Department offers four services for a future passport holder:
- Routine service takes 7-10 weeks. You apply for a regular document, not a purple US passport, through an acceptance facility or renew by mail.
- Expedited service takes 3-5 weeks. You can get an expedited service at a passport office or renew by mail. The fee of $60 is payable to the US Department of State. It may take up to two weeks for applications to reach a passport agency and up to two weeks for you to receive a passport by mail. If you choose this type of application, consider ordering an expedited mail delivery with an expedited execution service.
- Urgent travel is when you leave abroad less than in 3-5 weeks and you need to schedule an appointment within 14 calendar days before your international travel date.
- Life-or-death emergency is when you leave for a foreign country in 3 business days or 72 hours. It’s important to take appointment and execution time into account to get your purple US passport in time.
You can get life-or-death emergency and urgent travel services only through an appointment. Find the closest passport agency to schedule a convenient time for your new passport at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/get-fast/passport-agencies.html