Crazy Changes to the US Passport Application

The last time I had to renew my passport was during The Great Passport Scare of 2009.  Congress passed a law stating that land borders with Canada and Mexico would now require passports for crossing. Previously all you needed to get in and out of Mexico was a drivers license!  So there was a mad rush by Americans to get passports before the law went into effect.  I filled out my forms, which I don’t remember being too complicated, I paid the extra fee to expedite my order, and my passport came with plenty of time to spare. But there were plenty of canceled trips and ruined holidays by people who were caught off guard by these changes.

Since then, passport turnaround time has fallen back to an acceptable time-scale, but it looks like there are some new changes afoot! Consumer Traveler just published a story about the US Department of State’s new proposed “Biological Questionnaire.” This new addition to the passport application seems to ask for an incredible amount of personal information about the applicant’s family history. If it gets approved, the next time you apply for a passport, you’ll need to know the place and date of birth for your parents, siblings, and spouse.  The form is long, and full of ridiculously detailed questions.  It asks for the address of the house your parents lived in when you were born.  It asks for the name and address of the hospital where your mother received pre and post-natal care. Do you know the name of the doctor who provided that care? If you don’t, your passport application could be delayed or even denied!

There is a section where you’re supposed to list every place you’ve ever lived and there is another section where you’re supposed to list every job you’ve ever had.  This is a real question from the proposed Biological Questionnaire:

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.

And then there are no less than 7 blank lines for you to fill up.  Crazy.

I understand that it’s important to be thorough with this kind of thing, but to me, this just seems like a little much.  I’d have to do hours of research and make about 10 phone calls before I could fill in this form!

I have to wonder, if they are considering make the passport application this much stricter, does that mean there has been a problem with foreigners applying for and receiving passports in the past?

My passport is good for another 8 years, so I guess I don’t have anything to worry about.  But if you’re up for a renewal soon, you might want to take care of it asap!

You can check out the proposed new passport application form here.

What are your thoughts on this whole thing?

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