Wow, I just became aware of this piece of alarming news from Consumer Traveler. Apparently the US Department of State has proposed implementing a new biographical questionnaire for some 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”.

photo by dcgreer

Besides being extremely difficult for even the average American to research and complete, this form leaves a huge potential for discrimination. For instance, one commenter was an adoptee and had no access to information about her biological mother. Others pointed out those who had completed gender transition and might see a danger in having all of their past employers contacted. Still another mother pointed out that there were roughly a dozen physicians present at her daughters birth and it would be impossible to track down names, addresses, and phone numbers for each.

Though criteria for who exactly would be subject to this questionnaire doesn’t seem specified at the moment, as Kate of one of my favorite blogs Shakeville said, “not only is there a significant opening for the federal government and its agents to use this proposed form in order to harass, intimidate, and otherwise discriminate against passport applicants, the use of the new form could unintentionally endanger the safety of said applicants.”

Since only about 37% of Americans have a passport, you would think the process should be made easier rather than more difficult and dangerous…Those who take issue can comment on the proposal can here until late Monday night.

What do you all think of this? Those of us who are not American, what is the passport application process like in your country?

post by Jackie Clark