Confused By US Passport Requirements. Help?
March 25, 2013 4:47 PM   Subscribe

I had a passport when I was a kid. My dad was USAF and I spent about 40% of my childhood overseas. However, I have not had a passport since and I have not left the country since I was in college. What do I need to get a passport?

I have my original birth certificate, with the raised embossed seal. However, it does not list my parent's names, making it useless as primary evidence of US citizenship if I'm reading the requirements correctly. The secondary requirements list "early school records" as allowable. I actually have some early elementary school report cards. Is that what they are talking about by early school record? They don't look particularly official and have no identifying info other than my name stamped or written on them. I have a hard time believing they are useful as any sort of ID, but this is the US Govt. that we are talking about.

For those of you that have been thorough this relatively recently, what do I need in hand in addition to my not quite good enough original birth certificate when I apply in person? I don't have my baptism certificate nor a family bible.
posted by COD to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total)
My 18 y.o. daughter just got her passport. She brought her original birth certificate and one other form of official, government-issued ID. In her case, she doesn't have a driver's license yet and a learner's permit is not considered official, so she had to get a state-issued ID card. Also, because she applied at a post office in a different state than her official residence (at college), she had to provide two additional forms of ID - in her case, her university ID and a bank statement.

The guidelines on the State Department website are pretty clear once you read through them (printing them out definitely helps). Since your first passport was presumably issued when you were under the age of 16, you are likely considered a First-Time Applicant.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:00 PM on March 25, 2013

Do you still have the old expired passport you had as a child? That should work as primary evidence of your citizenship.
posted by that possible maker of pork sausages at 5:02 PM on March 25, 2013

Wow, sorry, I really missed the point of your question.

With your not quite official birth certificate - can you not contact the state where you were born to get something more complete?
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:02 PM on March 25, 2013

If you still have your (expired) childhood passport - you don't need your birth certificate at all. If you do not, read on.

Basically, you have a mostly ceremonial copy of your birth certificate (it would have sufficed before 2011!) - you can use that information to get a certified copy for a nominal fee. Contact the health department of the county in which you were born and see what they need from you (sometimes you can make the request online, sometimes you have to fax things, assuming you can't go in person.)

Additionally, you will need a current drivers license or valid government ID. Present that, with a photo taken at CVS, FedEx or the like, along with Form DS-11 in person to a passport office - most likely at a post office near you.
posted by cessair at 5:04 PM on March 25, 2013

Sounds like you have a short-form birth certificate. Contact whatever entity issued it...for a small fee, they should be able to issue you a long-form birth certificate with your parents' names on it, suitable for the new passport requirements.
posted by phoenixy at 5:05 PM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Without a long-form birth certificate from the county of your birth, you may be asked for secondary evidence of citizenship. In that case, old school records, newspaper clippings from your youth, and a number of other things that seem like scrapbook material rather than proof of citizenship can be helpful in establishing your being a citizen if you don't have a history of issued passports (you must have the undamaged old passport(s) in-hand for them to be considered valid proof).

In the case of my now-husband, we had to get those items, and what really helped was that I went with him to the Passport Agency and filled out a form that was an affidavit that I knew him to be a US citizen (Form DS-71). I had to be there in person to sign and swear with my own Passport and ID. This may be way more that you'll need. Our case was complicated by birth certificates changed due to adoption.
posted by quince at 5:43 PM on March 25, 2013

You can actually call and ask. I had a friend do this with a different situation and he said they were helpful.

If your parents are still alive (and your dad was there when you were born, if you're mom's no longer alive), I read the secondary evidence page to mean your birth certificate would count as an 'early public record' and your parent could fill in DS-10, assuming you were born in the US. But odds are you can get your hands on an acceptable birth certificate.
posted by hoyland at 5:46 PM on March 25, 2013

Were you born overseas while your dad was USAF? If you were, you can use the State Department/Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth instead of a longform birth certificate.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:56 PM on March 25, 2013

Seconding that you currently have a short-form birth certificate, not the full certificate. For that --- assuming you were born within the US --- contact the county or city vital records office where you were born. (Example: my own short-form is a 3-5" card, but the long-form cert. is about legal-paper sized and has lots of extra info, including parents' names/birthdates & birthplaces, their address at the time I was born and more.)

If you were born overseas, as an American citizen your parents would have probably registered your birth with the US embassy in that host country; in that case, contact the US State Department for your birth certificate. (Example: John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone to American parents --- his father was a Navy officer --- who registered his birth with the State Dept.)
posted by easily confused at 6:00 PM on March 25, 2013

I was born in the US while my dad was USAF. On a whim I called my mother. She thinks she has my old passport in the safe deposit box. So this may all be a moot.
posted by COD at 6:16 PM on March 25, 2013

and if you run into trouble, contact your local congressperson. Mine got me a family members passport in 3 days after a boondoggle problem.
posted by couchdive at 1:54 PM on March 26, 2013

Mom does not have my passport, or doesn't know where it is. But she does have all my immunization records going back to birth. I believe that will cover the secondary documentation requirement, so I think I'm good shape. If not, I'll bend over and hand $50 to NY for a copy of my long form birth certificate.
posted by COD at 4:33 PM on March 26, 2013

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