New Passport Application Asks for Insane Details

U.S. passport, for which you need to fill out a passport applicationWhat was the address you lived at when you were two? What's the phone number of the first job you even had? Do you remember the address of your primary school? How about the birth date and location of your stepfather?

If you plan to apply for a passport and you don't have rock-solid proof of citizenship, you might soon be asked to fill out an insanely detailed passport application, form DS-5513, by the State Department before you can receive your papers.Among the items you'll have to answer are:
  • The date and place of birth of your parents, spouse and siblings
  • Your mother's address a year before you were born, when you were born, and one year after you were born
  • The name of your mother's natal doctor and the dates of her appointments
  • The names of those in attendance at your birth
  • The addresses of all the places you lived in the U.S. and outside the U.S., starting from birth
  • All of your current and past jobs, including address, phone number and your supervisor's name
  • All of the schools you attended, with address and dates you attended
Ready for the punch line? The government thinks that this should take you about 45 minutes to complete.

The form is a proposal being floated by the U.S. Department of State. It expects that this dandy surprise would be given to around 75,000 applicants who submit citizenship or identity evidence that "is insufficient or of questionable authenticity." Most people will still be able to use the short form, thankfully.

WalletPop asked immigration attorney J.Christopher Erb just how much of an increase in information is demanded by this form. "I'm sure there are instances where the passport office asks for more information," he said, "but I've never heard of them asking for information as irrelevant to the passport issuing process as the questions on this biographical questionnaire."

And little lies on the form could come back to haunt you, since, as the form explains, the "The DS-5513 may also be used as evidence in the prosecution of any individual who makes a false statement on the application...".

"This is a continuing trend in immigration and nationality-based forms (and other government forms as well)," Erb said, "which is to add requests for information or attestations to the form 'under penalty of perjury' without considering whether it's realistic to expect the person completing the form to have the answers, effectively criminalizing the desperate guesswork needed to actually complete the form.

"Frankly, if the form is real they almost seem to be trying to discourage citizens from applying for a passport. I don't know about you, but for me the 'burden' would be far more than the allotted 45 minutes, and would involve calling my mother and trying to remember every address I've ever had."

He also said that, "the vast majority of the information has little or no bearing on whether or not the applicant would be entitled to the document in question."

The short lesson to be taken here? Safeguard your birth certificate and other proofs of citizenship, or be prepared to dissect your own life in brutal detail.

And since this is a proposal, not a done deal, there is time and a way for you to let your thoughts be known to the passport overlords. Send an email to, or mail to Alexys Garcia, U.S. Department of State, 2100 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Room 3031, Washington, D.C. 20037.
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