Saturday, March 22, 2008

What Their (And Your) Passport Files Contain

The following is from DIPNOTE, the State Department's official blog. It explains very well what is in the file of any person who has ever applied for a passport (if you never had a passport, then you don't have a passport file).

We received many questions from the press and the public, several on this blog, about the information contained in a person’s passport file.

This entry details exactly what information can be found in a passport file. You may also view a Policy Podcast video featuring Under Secretary for Management Pat Kennedy that discusses "Passport Data Security." View Video Full Text

Generally, after the State Department issues a passport, all personal documents are returned to the applicant – the only document kept in the Department’s passport file is the passport application. Passport files do not contain travel information, such as visa and entry stamps, from previous passports. Almost all passport files contain only a passport application form as completed by the applicant.

Download the actual passport application forms at:

Application for U.S. Passport or Registrations

Application for U.S. Passport by Mail

The application form asks for the biographic information needed to determine if the applicant qualifies for a U.S. Passport, including:
* Applicant’s name, sex, date of birth, place of birth, social security number, marital status and mailing address and previous passport number if applicable.
* Applicant’s physical descriptors like height, hair color and eye color.
* Names and place of birth of the applicant’s parents.The application form also asks for optional information that helps us to deliver applications on time, and to contact a citizen in case of an emergency:
* Occupation and employer of the applicant and contact information for the applicant as well as his or her emergency contact. (these have proved invaluable in contacting next of kin when a US citizen dies or needs assistance abroad).
* Travel plans as completed by an applicant on the form would be in the record. (This is valuable in getting the passport to the applicant on time.)

In complex circumstances, for instance if there are grounds to suspect possible fraud or if a person born overseas claims citizenship by virtue of having an American citizen parent, we may need additional evidence to review the applications, and we keep this information in the passport file with the applications.

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