What to Do With a US Passport When Someone Dies: A Guide

Updated

When a loved one dies, the family is left to go through a myriad of items, from old journals and financial paperwork to passports, travel brochures, and maps. Knowing what to do with these items can be a real challenge. While you should keep some documents for financial purposes and others for record-keeping, some items can be retained as mementos and repurposed into memorial keepsakes. 

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So what do you do if you happen to find your loved one’s passport? Keep reading for nine different ways you can repurpose this cherished travel document.

Do You Need to Cancel or Dispose of a Deceased Person’s Passport?

The short answer to this question is: no, you do not need to cancel or dispose of a deceased person’s passport. Since the passport-holder is deceased, the passport becomes unusable for travel purposes. If it showed up in the system at an airport, it would flag the system and alert the border agents that the real person is deceased and someone is trying to travel by assuming a false identity. 

If you do choose to cancel your loved one’s passport, you can have it returned to you and still utilize it for crafting and keepsake purposes. This is certainly good news for those who enjoy repurposing loved ones’ special mementos into memorial items as a way to keep loved ones close.

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Options for Your Deceased Loved One’s Passport

If it’s part of your executor duties to take care of your loved one’s paper items, such as passports and financial documents, read on. It’s important to understand how long to keep documents after a death, but thankfully, there aren’t many rules when it comes to passports.

Request cancellation and destruction

If you want to cancel your loved one’s passport and have it destroyed, the U.S. Department of State Consular Lost and Stolen Passport Unit will take care of the job for you. To have this done, you’ll need to send your loved one’s passport and a copy of their death certificate. Upon receiving your loved one’s passport, they’ll cancel and destroy it.

Note: You won’t receive confirmation of receipt unless you send the passport by certified mail and require a signature at the other end. You also won’t receive any news of cancellation or destruction.

Send the passport and death certificate copy to:

U.S. Department of State
Consular Lost and Stolen Passport Unit (CLASP)
CA/PPT/S/L/LE/CP
44132 Mercure Circle
P.O. Box 1227
Sterling, VA 20166-1227

Request cancellation and return

If you’re working through a list of what to do when a loved one dies, you’ll be glad to know taking care of canceling a passport is a simple process. If you want to cancel your loved one’s passport and get the iconic hole punched through the entire booklet, you can send it to the U.S. Department of State Consular Lost and Stolen Passport Unit. This is the same place you send it to be canceled and destroyed, so it’s important that you follow all the steps to receive your loved one’s canceled passport back.

Just like the above option, you’ll mail the passport along with a copy of the death certificate. You also need to add a letter stating that you’d like the passport returned. Without the letter, officials will assume the passport should be destroyed.

Send the passport, a copy of the death certificate, and a letter to:

U.S. Department of State
Consular Lost and Stolen Passport Unit (CLASP)
CA/PPT/S/L/LE/CP
44132 Mercure Circle
P.O. Box 1227
Sterling, VA 20166-1227

Travel shadow box

Did your loved one travel throughout their life, or did they get a passport for that bucket list vacation? Consider including their passport in a one-of-a-kind shadow box with mementos from their trip, such as postcards, a few printed pictures, maps, and trinkets purchased overseas, like keychains. If you’ve created a memorial to your loved one in your home, add this shadow box to the display.

Memory travel journal

Did you travel with your loved one? Create a keepsake journal and record memories of adventures you had together. Make copies or cut out visa stamps from their passport pages and glue them into your travel journal on the corresponding pages. Just be careful to check both sides of the passport page before cutting! If there are stamps on both sides, make a copy of one side and cut stamps from the other side in order to include each stamp in your memory journal pages.

Travel keepsake box

Travel keepsake boxes are a perfect option for someone who doesn’t want to create a shadow box display. Take the person’s passport, printed pictures, maps, postcards, train tickets, travel brochures, and other mementos from their travels, and place them all into a keepsake box. If you created a travel memory journal, add this to the box, as well. Now, you’ll have a box full of travel memories in one place, where you can easily look through it any time you’re missing your loved one.

Serving tray

There is nearly an unlimited number of things you can do with a little creativity and Mod Podge. For this project, you’ll need a serving tray and one or more passports.

First, remove each page from the passport. If they only had one passport, you might need to make copies of some of the pages to have enough to cover your tray. If using more than one passport, simply choose the best-stamped pages and arrange them however you like best.

Once you’ve arranged the pages onto the base of your tray, remove them and place them aside. Next, take mod podge and coat the bottom of the serving tray with a thin layer. Place the pages back onto the tray in your preferred design, and coat the top with a layer of Mod Podge. You might want to use several layers to ensure a good coating and waterproofing if you plan to use the tray for serving drinks.

Display it with their urn

One of the simplest ways to repurpose a loved one’s travel-worn passport is to display it beside their urn. If they particularly loved traveling and they were never without their passport, this could be a fitting display to remember them by.

Set up a travel-themed memorial

If you’re thinking about setting up an in-home memorial to your loved one and traveling was a big part of their life, set up a travel-themed memorial. Stack up several vintage suitcases on top of an old steamer trunk. Add a picture frame or two of your loved one in their favorite places. Place the passport standing upright or in a shadow box. To finish it off, frame a printout of their favorite travel-oriented quote and place it at the top of the display.

Visa stamp magnets

If you’ve seen tutorials on map magnets, then you’ll already know how this works. You’ll need clear glass gems with a flat back, your loved one’s passport, paper glue, epoxy, and round magnets.

First, cut out passport stamps the size of your clear gems. Be sure to look at both sides of the page! If you want to use stamps featured on both sides, photocopy one stamp and cut out the other. 

Second, use paper glue to glue the stamp to the gem, visa-side up, so you can see it through the gem.

Finally, after the glue has dried, apply a small dot of epoxy to the back of the gem and attach a magnet.

Once dried, you’ll have unique magnets to use custom-made from your loved one’s passport.

Remembering Your Loved One

When a loved one dies, they leave a substantial paper trail of financial documents, legal papers, and interesting mementos, such as passports. Use their passport as a way to remember their love for traveling and inspire travels of your own.


Source:
  1. “Passport of a Deceased Person.” What To Do With Passport, U.S. Passport Service Guide, 2021. us-passport-service-guide.com
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