State Dept. proposes “Biographical Questionnaire” for passport applicants

The U.S. Department of State is proposing a new Biographical Questionnaire for passport applicants. The proposed new Form DS-5513 asks for all addresses since birth; lifetime employment history including employers’ and supervisors names, addresses, and telephone numbers; personal details of all siblings; mother’s address one year prior to your birth; any “religious ceremony” around the time of birth; and a variety of other information.  According to the proposed form, “failure to provide the information requested may result in … the denial of your U.S. passport application.”

The State Department estimated that the average respondent would be able to compile all this information in just 45 minutes, which is obviously absurd given the amount of research that is likely to be required to even attempt to complete the form.

The proposed “Biographical Questionnaire” follows the introduction in December 2010 of a new Form DS-11 for all passport applicants. It seems likely that only some, not all, applicants will be required to fill out the new questionnaire, but no criteria have been made public for determining who will be subjected to these additional new written interrogatories.

It’s not clear from the supporting statementstatement of legal authorities, or regulatory assessment submitted by the State Department to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) why declining to discuss one’s siblings or to provide the phone number of your first supervisor when you were a teenager working at McDonalds would be a legitimate basis for denial of a passport to a U.S. citizen.

The State Department is accepting comments for OMB on this proposal on this proposal for 60 days, which began February 24, 2011, and thus should run through April 25, 2011. (Under the Paperwork Reduction Act,  OMB must approve and assign an OMB control number before any new form can be used.) Details and instructions for submitting comments are in the Federal Register notice (also available here as a PDF):

You may submit comments by any of the following methods:

Mail (paper, disk, or CD-ROM submissions): Alexys Garcia, U.S. Department of State, 2100 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Room 3031, Washington, DC 20037
Fax: 202-736-9202
Hand Delivery or Courier: Alexys Garcia, U.S. Department of State, 2100 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Room 3031, Washington, DC 20037

You must include the DS form number [DS-5513], information collection title [Biographical Questionnaire for U.S. Passport], and OMB control number [none yet assigned; 1405-XXXX requested by Dept. of State] in any correspondence.

Alternatively, you can submit comments online at until midnight EDT on Monday, April 25, 2011.  Go here, then click the “Submit a Comment” button at the upper right of the page.

(Note that the proposed form itself was not published in the Federal Register. We were eventually provided with a copy after requesting it from the Department of State, and have posted it here.)

We’ve submitted comments, and we encourage others to do so as well.

Our comments (PDF) were co-signed by the Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights (CFPHR), Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), Privacy Activism, Consumer Travel Alliance (CTA), Robert Ellis Smith, and John Gilmore. If you would like to use these for ideas for comments of your own, here’s a version in OpenOffice format for easier editing.

You can view the comments docketed to date here. (There’s sometimes a delay of up to several days before comments are docketed, so don’t panic if you don’t see yours immediately.)

Extra points to the person who gives the best answer in the comments to the question, “”Please describe the circumstances of your birth including the names (as well as address and phone number, if available) of persons present or in attendance at your birth.”

[P.S. - To those who have been wondering if this is a hoax: We understand that it may seem fishy that the State Department chose to publish a notice in the Federal Register that it was proposing a new form, but didn't publish the proposed form itself in the Federal Register. But that was their choice of how to proceed, not ours. We were sent the proposed Form DS-5513 in March, in response to our request, by the person identified in the Federal Register notice as the point of contact from whom it could be obtained: Alexys Garcia,, 212-736-9216. We immediately published the form we received from the State Department here on our website. There's more at the links in the sidebar on who we are and how to contact us, as well as links to press reports on our previous work and current projects. You can also check out the other co-signers of the comments we submitted to the State Department. We're for real, and so is this proposal from the State Department. We wish this were a hoax, but it's not.]

[Follow-up: Public outrage at proposed questionnaire for passport applicants]

[Follow-up: State Dept. already using illegal passport questionnaire]

[Follow-up: State Dept. responds to passport form furor — with lies]

92 Responses to “State Dept. proposes “Biographical Questionnaire” for passport applicants”

  1. Austin Says:

    The supporting statement says that they estimate that about 74,000 persons per year will have to complete this form. With just shy of 14 million US passports issued last year, this means that only about 1 in every 200 persons applying for a passport will need to complete this form.

    While the form definitely appears quite burdensome, it would appear that this form is targeted towards the small subset of individuals who cannot provide adequate and verifiable information of their citizenship. These individuals currently have to go through some sort of detailed scrutiny to verify their citizenship; I suspect that this form simply standardizes the information that is collected from these individuals.

    However, I do agree with your sentiment that the State Department should be much more explicit in identifying the purpose of this form, and specifically those who would need to fill it out; as you correctly point out, the current FR notice is quite vague on this point.

  2. new passport forms - Page 2 - FlyerTalk Forums Says:

    [...] Questionnaire" for some passport applicants and supporting documents are linked from here. You can submit commits through April 15, [...]

  3. david78209 Says:

    My comment:

    March 20, 2011

    Regarding DS Form DS-5513, Biographical Questionnaire for U.S. Passport, 1405-XXXX

    The U.S. Department of State is proposing a new Biographical Questionnaire for passport applicants. The proposed new Form DS-5513 asks for all addresses since birth; lifetime employment history including employers’ and supervisors names, addresses, and telephone numbers; personal details of all siblings; mother’s address one year prior to your birth; any “religious ceremony” around the time of birth; and a variety of other information. According to the proposed form, “failure to provide the information requested may result in … the denial of your U.S. passport application.”

    The requirements implicit in this form are absurd. The fact that the US Government would consider withholding a passport from someone who fails to answer all of these unduly intrusive questions makes me concerned that we are becoming a police state. The ostensible purpose of the form is to see who’s eligible for a passport. Many US citizens who ought to be eligible for a passport would be unable to answer many of the questions. I would myself.

    Starting with Section B, many people would have trouble being sure where older siblings were born, especially siblings much older and in a family that moved around a lot, such as a military family.

    Regarding Section C, which any native born citizen who was born in a traffic jam on the way to the hospital would have to fill out:

    I couldn’t fill out Questions 5, 6, and 7.
    Both my parents are now deceased. I’m not sure of my mother’s residence a year before my birth. I didn’t write her letters or postcards at the time. My father and mother lived in San Antonio, Texas when my older sister was born, eighteen months before I was born, but by the time I was born they/we had moved to McKinney, Texas where my father did a medical residency at the VA Hospital. I haven’t a clue what the address was in San Antonio, nor in McKinney. I’m pretty sure my family still lived in McKinney a year after I was born, but I couldn’t tell you the date they moved back to San Antonio.

    Regarding Question 8, I don’t believe my mother was working at the time I was born. If she were, I just MIGHT know the name of her employer, but there’s no chance I would know the employer’s address or the dates of employment.

    Regarding Question 9, I think my mother got pre-natal and post-natal care, but I don’t know and could not dig up the name and address of the doctors, or the dates of the appointments. I didn’t keep track of my mother’s appointments in utero or in the cradle.

    Regarding Question 10, my mother was born in the United States in 1920. At that time, I don’t think entering the US via grandma’s birth canal required any documents.

    Regarding Question 11, I really don’t recall the circumstances of my birth, and I didn’t think to take down the names and phone numbers of anyone present or in attendance. I was rather young at the time.

    Regarding Question 12, I was indeed circumcised about the time of my birth, but I’m not sure if there was any religious ceremony. I don’t remember the event. What’s more, I certainly don’t want to remember it. Would the U.S. Department of State like to audit my foreskin (or lack thereof) as part of my passport application?

    Regarding Section D, I couldn’t give you the street address of the places I lived before age 6, or my various dormitory addresses in college and medical school. I MIGHT be able to retrieve the addresses of the apartments I rented in San Antonio when I was an intern and resident, from 1974 to 1979.

    I probably could give the addresses of the two elementary schools I attended, because I live near them and they’re both still standing. I’m probably exceptional in that regard. (That brings to mind the estimate that this form would take 45 minutes to complete. I consider that estimate fantastically optimistic.)

    In sum, this proposed Biographical Questionnaire for a U.S. Passport is both threatening and insulting in the huge sweep of information it seeks to collect. I question the value of the information it would bring in if it were implemented — any useful bits would be lost in the ocean of irrelevant detail. But what I find most disturbing is the apparent police state mentality in infer in it. The last organization that worried about details like this, especially religious ceremonies, was the Gestapo.


    CC: The Honorable Lamar Smith, US House of Representatives
    The Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchison, US Senate
    The Honorable John Cornyn, US Senate

  4. Travis Says:

    Jesus, some of those questions are more intrusive than the SF-86.

  5. Lisa Kasper Says:

    The part about “religious ceremonies” and “mother’s address one year before birth”… what? sounds like they are trying to avoid another “Kenyon President”… I’m surprised they don’t want the actual newspaper clipping of our birth announcement with that too.. oh wait, that didn’t work for Obama either as far as some are concerned… who makes this stuff up?

    Regardless of WHY they THINK they want all that personal info, I think people should make their voices heard and respond inside that the 60 day comment period. Not that it will make any difference to this G.W. Bush 2.0 Administration.

  6. Recent Pleasures | Truth and Justice For All Says:

    [...] privacy and disclosure to the government of a trove of personal details. Read the summary at “Papers, Please!,” or the rather uninformative Federal Register notice, or, to see for yourself, click below [...]

  7. Rocio Says:

    @Austin Umm I had to fill out a similar form to get my passport and I sure as hell DO have adequate and verifiable information of my citizenship. I was born in the United States in a hospital and lived in the US all my life. I went to public schools for 9 years. I had no trouble getting a state identification card, filling out my tax information, even have federal student loans.

    Then all of a sudden when I sent in a filled out application form for a passport at 19, the State Dept sent me back 4 page application form where they wanted all my addresses, all the schools I’ve ever attended, all my employers. I was horrified. I was wondering why this was happening to me. I’m not a foreigner and I was being treated as if there wasn’t a huge paper trail surrounding my life. If it can happen to me it can happen to you too.

  8. kingfish20815 Says:

    The questions asked about work and residency are what I was asked to get critical sensitive clearance but not much else. The question: what would Obama’s answers be to these questions.

  9. Doof Says:

    For relevant insight into this read the book “The Phoenix Project” .. it’ about the US program of assasinations in South Viet Nam. The Vietnamese government undertook a census project the point of which was to document every citizen of the republic, all his relatives, siblings, employment history etc. All this information was used to corroborate (or not) information extracted by torturers of suspected anti-American activists. If one activist/rebel/whatever was identified, the Vietnamese government had all the census information to map out all the suspect’s political contacts who could then be picked up for interrogatin Eventually the result would be a list of assasination targets where the assasinations would be carried out by Americam Special Forces operatives and Vietnamese Police agents

  10. Skippy LeBouf Says:

    Most could fulfill this requirement by just friending the surveillance state on Facebook.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Very interesting post.  The FR notice says:  “Estimated Number of Respondents: 74,021.” 

    That has to be a tiny fraction of the number of passports issued each year, so you must be right that some and not all applicants will be asked to fill this out.  And I couldn’t find anything that says who.  I’m guessing that this form will only be used overseas, but that is a total guess.

    For some, filling out the form could requires pages and pages of attachments.  Do I list every dorm room I lived in when in college?  Every summer job (like anyone over the age of 30 would remember)?  Every cell I lived in when in prison?

    Then there’s the line in the Privacy Act statement that failure to provide a SSN “it may subject you to a penalty, as described in the Federal Tax Law provision.”  That’s really helpful, like anyone knows what federal tax law provision is being referenced.  I looked it up, and it is a “penalty” of $500.  I don’t know what a penalty here means, although I’m again guessing that this is some kind of tax law thing, as opposed to a more familiar civil or criminal penalty.  How anyone in the US would understand this is beyond me, but a foreigner would have no prayer.

    And my favorite question (and it was a tough call here) is:  “Please describe the circumstances of your birth including the names (as well as address and phone number, if available) of persons present or in attendance at your birth:”

    Let’s think about possible answers:

    1) It was a dark and stormy night….
    2) Well, I wasn’t there for most of it, but I heard….
    3) It all started 9 months earlier when….
    4) The cab driver was Muzzamil Hassan and the cop who helped with the delivery was Paddy O’Rourke, which is why my name is Muzzamil O’Rourke Jones.

  12. Obama Wants Your Life History to Get a Passport | Fellowship of the Minds Says:

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  13. Quirk Says:

    It’s not likely the U.S. would, or perhaps even could, check out most of this information anyway, especially if the person is very old. All they’re looking for are certain types of names to profile, and to apply a little extra investigation, because of current paranoia, You know, like Ali, or, Gaddafi.

  14. Maud Says:

    Every person, according to the UN Charter, has the right to leave his country of origin and to return to his country of origin. That’s Treaty Law, and it’s ratified in the US. It trumps statute or rule. Period.

  15. Papers Please!: State Dept. proposes “Biographical Questionnaire” for passport applicants Says:

    [...] State Dept. proposes “Biographical Questionnaire” for passport applicants [...]

  16. New Passport Application Asks for Insane Details Says:

    [...] 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. [...]

  17. aron pieman kay Says:

    totally disgusting

  18. Katryn Says:

    What if you were adopted?

  19. Ben Gibson Says:

    What if you do not know who your biological mother is?

  20. State Dept. proposes “Biographical Questionnaire” for passport applicants « Women Born Transsexual Says:

    [...] From Papers Please Org: [...]

  21. Dayna McMullen Says:

    This is insane! Who could possibly answer all of these questions? My father built homes for a living and we moved all the time. I have no means of getting the addresses of these homes and many of my employers are no longer in business or have merged with other companies. This proposal is a total waste of time, personally invasive and impossible to verify by the government. They can’t keep up with the paper load they have now. Just think what a nightmare this could be. I suggest writing your congressman/congresswoman and stating your objection to this proposal. I will be.

  22. CWilson Says:

    Let’s see - I’m adopted, so Section C is a complete blank. And since I was adopted in New York, I don’t have a real birth certificate… According to Section G, “Failure to provide the information requested on this form may result in the denial of…” Later on in Section G it does say that providing the information requested on the form is voluntary. Perhaps it’s voluntary unless you really want a passport.
    Good thing I got my passport many years ago, before computer databases made it so easy to collect and hold data.

  23. Laura Perry Says:

    Here is my response:

    Dear Sir:

    Thank you for the continued commenting period on this proposed form. I am a US Citizen and have been so all my life, am a passport holder, and have traveled abroad several times in the past year. I am not amused by this proposed additional intrusion into my life.

    First, let me state that there is no possible way in which anyone - anyone - could fill out this form in 45 minutes. It would take me hours and hours - and mine still would be incomplete.

    Second, let me comment on each area of the form:

    Section A: This is reasonable, and no different than should be expected on any US Passport document.

    Section B: I know and love my stepmother, but have ABSOLUTELY no idea where she was born. None. Does that automatically reject my form?

    Section C:
    Question 5: I have no idea where my mother resided in the year before my birth. Somewhere in Illinois.
    Question 6: Waukegan, IL, in a place/subdivision that no longer exists. Beats me what the address was.
    Question 7: Somewhere in IL, I assume. Could have been Ohio. I don’t know.
    Question 8: Her employment at the time of my birth? I assume she was on a table in the hospital pushing out a baby. As for her proximate employment, I know she was working somewhere, but I have no idea where, nor the employer’s address. She is not around to tell me. Working and having a baby was still considered abhorrent then, too.
    Question 9: pre/post-natal care: I don’t remember, not facilities, not addresses, not doctors, and certainly not dates of appointments. I thought I was supposed to be an infant and not a data compiler.
    Question 10: She was born in the US. I suppose her mother, her doctor and her birth certificate conspired to allow her to enter through the birth canal.
    Question 11: Are you serious? Do you want a dramatic recreation or bullet points?
    Question 12: My birth certificate was filed with Cook County, IL. I was not baptized, was not confirmed, didn’t attend religious ceremonies until I was 37, and, as a woman, am not circumcised (our culture frowns out that, as do I)

    Section D: I have lived in 33 different residences during my lifetime. Some I only remember as towns/cities, and don’t even have good dates to put with them. First, your form isn’t adequate to that sort of life experience, second, I have no addresses to put with them until about 1978 (about 12 addresses into my life), and third, zip codes have changed since I started moving. I am not going to go around looking up new zip codes for places that have now changed. But if you like, I will send you a map with pushpins.

    Section E: I have been working since I was 16. I am now 43. A different job nearly every summer, plus employments through my places of education and in those same cities. Again, I don’t think I could possibly compile them all. Ever.

    Section F: Schools. Ahem. Mother’s Day Out, Preschool, Elementary School (three different ones), Junior High, Senior High, Honors program at major university one summer while I was in high school, undergraduate, Master’s, second Master’s, three certificate programs (all at different schools), currently working on a double PhD. Again, you lack space. And what does my educational attainment have to do with getting a passport, anyway?

    In the Privacy Act Statement, it does seem a little odd to me that this statement will be used for debt collection purposes. Will you clarify that? That makes me thoroughly uncomfortable.

    Again, thank you for the opportunity for comment.

  24. westwardho Says:

    in related news, the state department has now been declared certifiably insane.

  25. Sarah Says:

    @Austin, what bothers me about the form is that my son will have to fill out a whole lot of extra information simply because I gave birth to him at home. He would have to check “no” to the medical facility part, and then go into details about how I never took him to be circumcised, baptized, or to the hospital.

    He got a birth certificate and a social security card with absolutely zero fuss. That should be enough proof of citizenship, as far as I’m concerned!

    @Laura, the person’s name is Alexys. I think that may be a ma’am, not a sir :) Actually, here’s her profile for celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month over at the State Dept
    Wonder if SHE had any trouble getting a passport…

  26. Question for Ed Says:

    Ed says: “We’ll be submitting comments, and we encourage others to do so as well.”

    Hey Ed, can you share your comments with us? (Thank you to the other commenters that posted their responses!) I want to write something and encourage other people to write in, but I don’t know where to start.

  27. Rev. Roger Wolsey Says:

    I’m a typical Gen-Xer and I couldn’t provide all of that info. I don’t even have records any more of all the places i’ve lived, nor of all of my employers. This proposal is simply ridiculous.

  28. Sabrina Says:

    This is crazy. I in no way could remember my bosses names etc. I would be lucky to remember all the jobs I have had. The government could probably do a better job of filling out the forms for me with their tax databases etc. This is just to absurd to happen, period!

  29. bob Says:

    The easy way around this is to take a pile of cash down to the nice Moussad agent at your local Israeli embassy. Just tell him which country(s) you would like. They are apparently experts at creating fake passports.

    This is all just a game to the insiders. The rest of us are mere serfs, troglodytes. Resistance is genuinely futile. The functional outcome of all paths is perpetuation of the status quo. We live in a modern day feudal society. Give up.

  30. Gina9223 Says:

    I’ve held clearances where they didn’t ask this much information.

    ”Please describe the circumstances of your birth including the names (as well as address and phone number, if available) of persons present or in attendance at your birth.”

    Uh, there was this bright light and everything went cold then…sorry I was to busy trying to figure out how to breath at the time and then some asshole slapped my ass while I was hanging upside down. I just didnt think to get everyone’s name. I think my mom was there but it was hard to focus. Honestly I just had never ‘focused’ before and was kind of new to that too. Oh, I didn’t have a pen or paper. I’m sure if I did I would have gotten everyones names and …well, not everyone had a phone back then and the numbers would have been changed so between that and the fact that most of them are dead now I don’t see how this information is going to be used.

    WTF? How do they expect you to answer that one? And what about orhpans?

  31. Richard Says:

    And not a word about this in the press, who probably never heard of it. Thank you for finding it. I’ll be pleased to send in my comments today. Hope you have let every professional member of the travel industry know about it as well. Now that the feds snuck in needing passports (or cards) for Canada and Mexico the next step seems to be to make it harder to get them. The only ray of hope is that if this goes through and enough people complain to Congress the State Department might back off. But I wouldn’t bet on that–they seem to be looking for anchor babies, and you know what a hot button topic that is right now.

  32. Christi Stavely Says:

    Here is the comment I left:

    Regarding Document DOS-2011-0055-0001, I find the information required in this form to be unnecessarily burdensome and intrusive. I do not know all of this information, nor do I have any way to find it out. I am only 39 and have not led a very eventful life, but to find names and addresses of attendants of my birth would be impossible. Religious ceremonies at the time of my birth? Impossible to verify, and none of the government’s business. Schools I attended? Some are no longer in existence and I do not have any paperwork to verify my attendance.

    I recently applied for my eldest child’s passport, and found that paperwork very thorough and intrusive enough to prove that she is a citizen in good standing. I am very alarmed that more information could be required. The documentation provided should be enough to allow a citizen of our free nation to travel abroad. Please do not allow this ridiculous and intrusive document to be required of citizens of this great nation. It is burdensome and a violation of privacy.

    Thank you for your consideration.

  33. Caroline Rose Says:

    Seems that this may result from birther paranoia; that state government forms used to document one’s date and place of birth are no longer adequate proof of citizenship.

  34. Anonymous Says:

    I’m a US citizen, and so were my parents and their parents, but I don’t have access to this type of information, so it seems that I may be screwed out of a passport for myself, but I will make sure that I write down every movement/step/breath I take from now on (and invest in an indestructible safe to keep it in) just so if I ever decide to have a child, they will be able to get a passport.

  35. Laura R Says:

    This form is ridiculous - I already have a valid passport, but I suspect my daughter will have trouble getting one for herself someday (I may just go get her one now, at 3 months old). She was born at home. I went to a midwife for pre-natal and post-natal care, but I was never admitted to a hospital. The midwife filed the paperwork necessary for her birth certificate with the state, and I have a copy of the birth certificate that the state has issued. With both parents being US citizens at the time of birth (and that’s provable via our passports), it shouldn’t matter *where* my daughter was born.

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  37. State Dept. wants to make it harder to get a passport Says:

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  38. Matt Says:

    Comment as submitted:
    The collection of information required by this form is, for an average American adult, extraordinarily burdensome.

    It will virtually always rely on the guesswork of third parties based on hazy memories, which is an extremely poor basis for making statements under penalty of perjury.

    Very few people will have truly complete access to the necessary details, especially those regarding events during their own infancy, their birth, and even before their birth.

    I have lived in the United States my entire life, and never left it for longer than a two-week vacation abroad. The same was true for both my mother and my father, and for at least the two of my grandparents whom I actually knew.

    And yet, even when both my parents and two of my grandparents were still alive, I would have been utterly unable to complete this form with sufficient confidence in its accuracy that I could, in good conscience, sign it under penalty of perjury. To obtain even approximate information, which I’d claim as — at best — “most likely accurate”, would have taken many hours of research, dozens of phone calls, and still would contain identifiable holes in my personal history. With my parents and grandparents now deceased, even that level of detail would be utterly unachievable.

    If even I — with my relatively uncomplicated history — could not do it, I cannot imagine any justification for imposing it as a requirement for obtaining a passport. Certainly the notion that an average American could complete it in 45 minutes is laughable.

    One can vote in a national election without answering all these questions. One can even successfully run for office without answering all of these questions. Surely obtaining a passport should be less burdensome than, say, becoming a member of Congress.

  39. Tuesday Says:

    Not only could I not fill out the birth-related information regarding myself, I would be unable to provide it regarding my own children. The only records I ever kept of my prenatal appointments were the cards given out by the OBs office, and even those weren’t 100% accurate, as I rescheduled on occasion. My son’s birth was something of a circus. I recall that shortly before he was born, I was informed that there would be two teams of nurses and two teams of doctors in the room (one of each for each of us), because the delivery was complicated. That implies at least eight, and possibly many more, professionals. My recollections of the event include screaming, swearing, and resenting my non-functional epidural. Shortly after the birth itself, they handed us a healthy baby and most of those extraneous people went away without my noticing them at all. I only remember the name of the delivering obstetrician because it’s on my son’s birth certificate (which I made sure to get in a hurry because my grandfather had requested a copy).

    My information about my daughter’s birth is even less complete - I arrived at the hospital by ambulance, requiring an immediate c-section for unstable hemorrhage related to placenta previa. The effects of the anesthesia given me in the OR were such that I didn’t recognize the surgeon when he came to check on me the next day. I remember his name, and the name of the senior resident assisting, but there were also nurses, a scrub tech, someone from the blood bank, a team of neonatalogists and NICU nurses, and an anesthesiologist. I have no clue what their names were, being somewhat beyond caring at the time. For that pregnancy, I had largely received care from a group of midwives located in one hospital, who were incapable of ever giving me a card with the full name of the midwife I was actually going to see at my next appointment. I never saw the same midwife twice, and I don’t recall any of their names. This hospital was not equipped to handle my delivery (they didn’t have sufficient NICU facilities), which took place at the hospital chosen for me by the EMTs. Earlier in the pregnancy, I had been seen for a less dramatic incident of bleeding at a third hospital, by doctors whose names I (again) do not recall, nor could I swear to the date.

    In the time elapsed since my children were born, the OB who provided my prenatal care when I was pregnant with my son has moved out of state. I did not ask for her forwarding address, as I saw no need for it. The senior resident assisting at my daughter’s delivery completed her residency and moved as well, again, I have no forwarding address.

    So golly gosh this is one stupid form.

  40. Steve Says:

    If anything this will help me demand a higher price when I sell my passport.

  41. Sir Bonar Neville-Kingdom Says:

    This is a splendid idea. Once again our American cousins are way ahead of us both in Innovation and in Customer Focus. I look forward to having my secretary Patricia introduce a similar policy to the UK shortly.

  42. David Says:

    As one commentator already pointed out, this is more intrusive than the SF-86, the biographical questionnaire for security clearance applicants. Correctly researching your own answers to an SF-86 can take a few days, not 45 minutes, and most applicants are given at least a week to complete the form. To put that burden on someone who just wants to exercise his/her right to travel should be illegal.

  43. zac Says:

    I am leaving in Europe therefore someone would think that I could ignore the problem.
    Unfortunately, few years ago, the United States decided how a passport has to look like to be accepted there. All the rest of the world had to obey. I had to pay to obtain a new passport that now contains a chip readable electronically from far away. It has been already announced that the next version will contain also fingerprints.
    So it is evident that the next step from USA, will be to pretend that all the rest of the world collects this kind of information else a passport won’t be valid for the US.
    Of course the rest of the world will obey.
    For the ones who think I’m exxagerating: do you know that European banks accepted to give a list of ALL operations made on bank accounts by European citizens in Europe (they know where I buy, at which cash dispenser and what time I collected money and so on) and EU citizens accepted this supinely.

  44. Proposed biographical questionnaire for passports may keep you from traveling freely - Loss of Privacy Says:

    [...] Papers Please has more on this as well.  Since time is short, I urge you to use the information provided by Papers Please and file your objections on their web form. Share/Save Civil Rights, Travel, USA Privacy Civil Rights, government, Politics, Privacy, Security Theater, surveillance society, tracking, Travel [...]

  45. FS Says:

    I agree with Austin. And, Quirk, I don’t agree with at all, i.e., this isn’t a racial profiling exercise. I have 2 clients who within the last 2 years through the passport application process discovered that their citizenship/naturalization papers were never completely filed during the 1970’s. The process they went through while State Department and then USCIS tried to determine administrative root of the problem mimics what this new form institutionalizes. The form will save people who find themselves in this spot a lot of time, money and worry.As 9/11 legislation is finally implemented technologically speaking in local passport offices many more individuals than you would expect are finding themselves with problems that this form will address.

  46. Aynne Morison Says:

    I have never been so happy to not be traveling abroad - because the answers to most of these questions are ‘dunno’, can’t ask - they’re long dead, that was over 52 years ago, business location was demolished back in…..

    Come on now. Institutionalized lunacy is still lunacy. Big Brother has me by the traveling short hairs on these kinds of questions because most of my ‘people with the answers’ about family movements and such are Dead - I’m the end of the line on this tree branch.

    As to the legal immigrants who have to try and dredge up this information decades after the misfiling of forms I’m feeling their pain as well.

  47. Charles S Says:

    From someone who contacted the contact person on the Federal Registry listing, this form will be used only for people who can’t provide primary proof of citizenship. This form is harder than a clearance form because a passport is considered proof of citizenship, so if you don’t have proof of citizenship already, getting a passport is really hard. As FS above me says, getting a passport without primary proof of citizenship is hard already, this form just, well, formalizes the set of things that might prove you are a citizen. Don’t have a birth certificate, but your mom is alive and remembers who she had pre-natal appointments with? Great, that might be proof you were born in the US. Were there records generated by some sort of religious ceremony shortly after your birth? Great, that might be proof you were born in the US. Sure, most people are going to have to answer “I don’t know,” to both those questions, but someone will be helped out by having those questions asked.

    Yes, if you don’t have primary proof of citizenship, and your mom is dead and no one ever told you any of those details, and you don’t remember what state you were living in, etc. then yes, you’re screwed, but that isn’t a change from policy now.

  48. Arlington VA Guy Says:

    Keep in mind that this is very similar to the SF-86 that is required for security clearances. Any form like this would require a background investigation and probably $30-$40K to pay for the investigation process. To that end, that’s probably why they would only be able to complete or afford to perform any more than 74,000 of these background checks. Let’s see here… 74,000 x $30,000 = $2,200,000,000! Great use of 2.2 Billion dollars! :p

  49. Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights » CFPHR Joins Letter on Passport Questions Says:

    [...] More information here: [...]

  50. NitaO Says:

    Having helped a friend get a fiance visa for another country (England) recentrly, I can tell you that this proposed process is certainly no more onerous than the one that she had to submit to. This just formalizes what people with questionable documents would be asked in the personal interview, saying incredible amounts of time and manpower.

  51. dominic Says:

    To whom it may concern,

    After reading through the proposed form, I must say I am anxiously awaiting having my passport (renewal?) application rejected for lack of filling out this form.

    Section A: Seems fairly reasonable.
    Section B: I don’t have birth location (and in some cases date) information for all of the relatives in the list. Did I just fail?
    Section C: As I was adopted, and to my knowledge my birth parents are dead (at least my mother, when I was aged 11), there is no way for me to fill out this section, for more than one reason: My parents (mother?) are/is dead. And if she/they wasn’t/weren’t, I would have to request their permission to get the information by contacting social services, and there is no guarantee they would agree to such. This seems discriminatory. If nothing else, it shows a significant lack of foresight.
    Section D: Being a military brat, we have moved significantly. Not to mention divorce and remarriage. I can guess at how many places I have lived, but have no clue where. And while I could find out, due to timezone difference between Europe and here, it would take longer than 45 minutes to find out.
    Section E: I can possibly recount where I have worked, but have no idea what phone number(s) or information about supervisory personnel to give. I think I just failed the form a third time.
    Section F: What does where I went to school have anything to do with whether I am an US Citizen or not?

  52. Guess what people, they be planning to keep you trapped in the US « InvestmentWatch Says:

    [...] There’s more information in the Federal Register notice (also available here as a PDF) and from the Identity Project. [...]

  53. Marie U'Ren Says:

    And just who is going to follow up on all the info reported and at what cost? Assuming, of course, that you can even find enough info to report it. How does one report a house address that has completely changed? I’ve lived in a house that is now in another city! Processing this new form will overwhelm the passport offices.

  54. Adoptee in Search Says:

    Adoptee in Search… Of real mom to get birth information. ( I know you didnt want to be found)
    The State of Florida promised to keep your name from me by changing my DOB by anywhere from 3-7 days and City of Birth by up to 3 cities away. Heck I could have even been born in another state. And all of this follows the Laws of Adoption in Florida
    But hey I really need you now !!!
    I need to get a passport and see , The State Dept want to know who was in the room at the time of my birth and where you lived a year before I was born… Guess what I want to know that too.!!!
    While your at giving me answers I’ve been told are sealed. Who exactly was my father, and what did he do? Was he a US citizen? are you ? Why did you give me up ? Oh wait not on the questionaire. but as long as your answering questions, Could we answer the one I always wanted to know? Do I have any other family? Sister , brother?

  55. Balloon Juice » “Your Papers, Citizen?” Says:

    [...] more information in the Federal Register notice (also available here as a PDF) and from the Identity Project. You can submit comments to the State Dept. online at until midnight Eastern time [...]

  56. Nedra Moore Says:

    This is rrdiculous, to say the least. Most of us have a general idea of our life’s journey, but didn’t bother to write down every address, and all the other information required! This is not necessary! i.e. The comment above of an adoptee who has no idea of his birth parents! Stop this outrageous digging into our private lives!

  57. State Dept. wants to make it harder to get a passport « CRISISBOOM Says:

    [...] There’s more information in the Federal Register notice (also available here as a PDF) and from the Identity Project. [...]

  58. mourningdemocracy Says:

    Frankly, I think we all know that this questionnaire has absolutely nothing to do with national security, identification, citizenship, or even intrusive prying into our private lives. It’s all about preventing US citizens from leaving the country when the balloon goes up - and believe me, it’s imminent. Take another look at the history books, folks. A close look - because history is repeating itself right now. The whole Nazi drama is once again unfolding, like a slow-motion train wreck picking up speed - only worse this time, because it’s not some maniacal dictator with insane dreams of taking over the world who can be stopped by military might. No, what we’re up against is a corporatocracy/oligarchy, and truth to tell, it’s already too late to stop them. The multinationals own the world, including the good ole’ U S of A. They own the politicians of this and all the other countries; they own all the infrastructure and the environment; they’re privatizing all the government services they care to keep running and are in the process of dismantling the rest. This country is doomed, and all of us with it (unless, of course, you happen to be one of the fortunate 1% who hold all the wealth . . . they will always have all the freedom they want to go about their business and pleasure in any way their black little hearts desire). Oh, and even if you were somehow able to escape - without a passport, no other country in the world will allow you legal entry into theirs. We’ll be reduced to the status of Cuban “boat people” or the “illegals” from Mexico that the “patriotic” Americans who put these sellouts in power are bashing now. Be assured that the powers that be know that, too. We’re now prisoners in the world’s largest gulag. Welcome to your nightmare.

  59. DC Caller:New passport rules will keep you grounded (forever) | The Party Of Know Says:

    [...] There’s more information in the Federal Register notice (also available here as a PDF) and from the Identity Project. [...]

  60. margie pollock Says:

    These new regulations would make it impossible to be totally accurate and that would then prevent Americans from visiting relatives and friends or a simple vacation out of the country .The required information is unnecessary. All one should have to prove is citizenship, photo for ID to leave or return. this would also increase spending as many more people would have to be hired by the government to process all this information. It already takes a long time to get your passport or renew one. . Pure nonsense in a time when we are in so much debt already.

  61. Uniunea Statelor Comuniste ale Americii pe Trilema - Un blog de Mircea Popescu. Says:

    [...] Adica, o notificare a departamentului de stat, introdusa la sfirsit de Februarie, cit ce priveste un set de “chestionari biografice” pentru cei ce doresc sa-si scoata pasaport. Documentul se gaseste disponibil pentru descarcare de exemplu aici : DS5513-proposed (via [...]

  62. Zyada Says:

    I want to know just where you got this “document”. You are hosting it yourself, it does not have an official government signature, and I can’t find another copy anywhere else. So, did you make this up? If you did, not cool. There are legitimate things to complain about the government intrusiveness - if this is made up, not only did you generate a lot of useless commentary that government employees will have to filter through to find any actual input, but you will undermine your own efforts to reduce government intrusiveness.

  63. bjphysics Says:

    Something fishy about this story

    Has anybody else noticed?

    1) The Federal Register link has no link to the document linked here.
    2) All the internet stories with a link to the alleged DS-5513 document lead back here.

  64. New / Renewal United States Passport Application - Page 2 Says:

    [...] how the got the DS-5513, they asked for from the contact information in the Federal Registrar. Papers, Please! ? Blog Archive ? State Dept. proposes “Biographical Questionnaire” for p… [P.S. - To those who have been wondering if this is a hoax: We understand that it may seem fishy [...]

  65. Jayne1955 Says:

    I’m 56 years old. Half of the companies I worked for are no longer in existance and half of the people I worked for are dead. I had thought of traveling when I retired, but there’s no way I can find all of this information. One of my brothers disappeared years ago and doesn’t even want to be found.

    Who has time to read and check all of this anyway?

  66. State Dept. wants to make it harder to get a passport | Dylan Ratigan Says:

    [...] There’s more information in the Federal Register notice (also available here as a PDF) and from the Identity Project. [...]

  67. Soviet Style Travel Restrictions Coming to Amerika? | Real News Reporter Says:

    [...] You can submit comments to the State Dept. online at until midnight Eastern time on Monday, April 25, 2011.  Go here, then click the “Submit a Comment” button at the upper right of the page. If that link doesn’t work for you, it’s probably a problem with the javascript used on the website. There are alternate instructions for submitting comments by email here. [...]

  68. Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » Public outrage at proposed questionnaire for passport applicants Says:

    [...] Form DS-5513, we were horrified. We immediately posted the form here on our website, with an alert about the proposal. We also prepared and submitted formal comments to the State Department opposing [...]

  69. Mike Longo Says:

    I have tried to click on the hyperlink to look at Form DS-5513 at least 10 times today, on several different web sites, and every time the page comes up blank. This is really a frightening; this country is quickly becoming a police state.

  70. State Dept. wants to make it harder to get a passport | Suzuki M109R Boulevard Forum Says:

    [...] There?s more information in the Federal Register notice (also available here as a PDF) and from the Identity Project. You can submit comments to the State Dept. online at until midnight Eastern time [...]

  71. Stephanie Says:

    Seriously! This is more Govt intrusion. When will they start expecting proof of the circumcision? Who knows where their Mother lived with address 1 year before their birth and who was present at the birth? If Obama can not provide a Birth Certificate before he travels abroad why should anyone else have to go the next step and provide a circumcision report? Communistic!

  72. April Twenty Five Two Thousand Eleven Says:

    This is crazy!! They already know it anyway, don’t they!

  73. New Passport Requirements Says:

    [...] can’t find one credible source of this story - this is NOT a true proposal. This should help. Papers, Please! ? Blog Archive ? State Dept. proposes “Biographical Questionnaire” for p… Reply With [...]

  74. JBeckers Says:

    Unlike many people posting here, I don’t really have any extenuating circumstances like dead parents, not being born in a hospital, a 20+ year work history, or frequent moves aside from my college years…and I would still be struggling to complete all of the information on this form. This is absurd. If they want to know about my birth, they should be asking my mom, not me. And as far as employment history, why can’t they just pull up Social Security or tax records? What the hell?

  75. Why the Government Could Make it Nearly Impossible for You to Get a Passport | Worldwidemag Says:

    [...] There’s more information in the Federal Register notice (also available here as a PDF) and from the Identity Project. [...]

  76. Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » State Dept. already using illegal passport questionnaire Says:

    [...] most frequently asked question in the ongoing discussion about the State Department’s proposed new “Biographical Questionnaire” for (some) passport applicants has been, “Is [...]

  77. jim blackstone Says:

    I was able to bring up Form 5513 at 10 AM, but when I came back at 1 PM, I got a whole page of the following:

    %PDF-1.5 %âãÏÓ 155 0 obj stream hÞLŽA‹Â0_F
    ½#_ÉÝ_¢¨M|¥_-_…SŠ___ ÂEýrßåçpѺúá’¢Úr¾

    A ‘Supplemental Worksheet is basically as intrusive and is located at:

    Thank you for revealing this. And find out why State destroyed the 5513 web page.

  78. jim blackstone Says:

    Added note: The ‘Supplemental Worksheet’ turned to gibberish about 5 minutes after my comments sent at 12:09 PM. I don’t think they want us to know…

  79. Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » State Dept. responds to passport form furor — with lies Says:

    [...] the State Department is sending as an auto-response to all mail to the point of contact for their proposed new “Biographical Questionnaire” for passport applicants, Form [...]

  80. State Dept. wants to make it harder to get a passport - Stormfront Says:

    [...] There?s more information in the Federal Register notice (also available here as a PDF) and from the Identity Project. You can submit comments to the State Dept. online at until midnight Eastern time [...]

  81. uzee Cameron Says:

    You have got to be kidding. I move every 2 -3 years and am 63 years old. I can barely remember who I’ve worked for for more than 3 decades. And my immediate (DNA )family is about 78 people (Easter last a new member joined us). Get real.

    Suzee Cameron

  82. Connie Says:

    Travel without a portpass…look into it. You are not required by
    law to have a portpass, a driver’s license or car reg. or a SS#, on and on..all legal fiction backed by violence. If you keep giving into this BS, they will continue to harass you… You
    are free to travel… Get on a military transport, or charter a plane
    with a few other people…it’s all possible…

  83. Reality Zone Unfiltered News 2011 April 23-29 Says:

    [...] US State Department proposes that passport applications include all prior addresses since birth, l… [Don't worry. It's all for our protection, you know.] PapersPlease Posted 2011 Apr 23 (Cached) [...]

  84. Chris Frazier Says:

    “I oppose the proposed new regulations for U.S. citizens to acquire a passport. The breadth and width of the biographical information which would be required is excessive, unnecessary, and totalitarian. The citizens of the U.S. are being contorted into subjects of a police state. Enough privacy has been surrendered. Far too much. There is no legitimate need to undergo such a procedure to acquire a passport. Is the U.S. now to move many steps closer to becoming a penal colony? Do the bureaucrats have nothing better to do than generate more and more unnecessary regulations? The threat of “terrorism” is grossly exaggerated to justify the creation of new windmills with which the federal government may joust. War and financial speculation are now the businesses of our ‘elected’ officials. For the sake of decency and liberty, do NOT approve these preposterous new burdens on the people. Wall Street, allied with the U.S. government, has exported most of the manufacturing jobs. It will soon be necessary for more and more citizens to look overseas for employment as the U.S. economy, having been gutted and plundered, continues its collapse. Don’t make us prisoners of whatever form of government this behemoth in Washington has become.”

  85. Why the Government Could Make it Nearly Impossible for You to Get a Passport « Eyes Wide Open International Says:

    [...] There’s more information in the Federal Register notice (also available here as a PDF) and from the Identity Project. [...]

  86. Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » U.S. Embassy confiscates citizen’s passport so he can’t come home Says:

    [...] Nouhali’s treatment also highlights the significance of State Department or DHS passport issuance procedures and decisions to deny, withhold, or confiscate a passport as tantamount to decisions on whether to [...]

  87. Judith Says:

    One saving fact was I was born in a hospital. But the rest is impossible to put together. I lived in at least twelve places before I graduated from high school. Now at nearly 69 years since birth, I have lived in at least twelve places and could not repeat the specific address.
    All sexual partners I do not recall. Opps, that is not on there yet.
    One wonders if they ask for this much information for the candidates running for president. This is a police state and I am shocked but not so surprised to see this kind of attempt to make Americans learn how to bow, and how far down we must go. An exercise in obedience. Getting us ready for the 800 FEMA camps.

  88. blessthesinner Says:

    To everyone reading these comments and is wondering if these forms are “real”, yes they are, because I just received them. “I will just say no to these forms” commentators, just wait till you have to renew yours. I was born and currently living in the same hometown in California. As both my parents before me. We never left because of raising a family and hardly travel ever. This is my 1st application process for a passport, its my 1st time to Canada. I feel very nervous of effen up on the forms because I really want to travel to see the world, but how the hell can I remember all my jobs, ph. numbers,address’s and names of good or a-hole bosses that I’ve had. Summer jobs/temp/”under the table”=mowing my neighbors grass for extra couple of bucks, is nearly impossible . The “Every place I lived” question was a lot easier than most people, but will I be held liable and denied if I forget to dot a “i” or cross a “T”. All this for CFR and any other agencies/foreign country/private sector that need my info. WTF. All without the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) control number.
    Paperwork Reduction Act


    § 3512. Public protection
    (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person shall be subject to any penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information that is subject to this subchapter if–

    (1) the collection of information does not display a valid control number assigned by the Director in accordance with this subchapter; or

    (2) the agency fails to inform the person who is to respond to the collection of information that such person is not required to respond to the collection of information unless it displays a valid control number.

    (b) The protection provided by this section may be raised in the form of a complete defense, bar, or otherwise at any time during the agency administrative process or judicial action applicable thereto.

    So what happens if in light of these facts, under penalty of perjury, I give them my personal history they need and I am still denied. Even if it’s a right as a US law abiding/tax paying citizen, to travel freely. Was I baptized. No. No passport for you! I am deeply troubled, because I got nothing to hide. My eyes/ears/mind is far from shut though. I just need my 1st real vacation in 33 years before the ish (Modern Global Pardigm haha) goes down. I am the .5%, 1 out of 200 minority, I guess, whatever that is. The TSA and now this. Wish I had a private plane. Thanks for this website and all its info, and maybe I will see you on vacation in Canada?

  89. Were you circumcized? New Passport Questionnaire Baffles Many With Absurd Info - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum Says:

    [...] The questinaire is estimated to be applicable to only about 0.5% of the people who apply for a passport, especially those with problems in verifying there citizenship. Papers, Please! ? Blog Archive ? State Dept. proposes “Biographical Questionnaire” for p… [...]

  90. jaime rivera Says:

    Hi there!

    I send a expired passport and application for renewal early as january 2012,so in february they send a letter
    content this Biographical Questionnnaire in order to prove my citizenship, well if my old passport
    is not prove of my citizenship what document is?,this people go too this time still no passport
    not documents (in original) back and no money.
    so what can i do?

  91. Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » State Dept. admits passport form was illegal, but still wants it approved Says:

    [...] last year, the State Department proposed a new “Biographical Questionnaire” for passport applicants, which would have required anyone selected to receive the new long-form [...]

  92. Why You Need a US Passport Now! At a future point, it may be impossible to get one. | American Expat in Chiang Mai Says:

    [...] last year, the State Department proposed a new “Biographical Questionnaire” for passport applicants, which would have required anyone selected to receive the new [...]

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