Better Find Your Circumcision Records If You Want a Passport

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When I applied for my first U.S. passport many years ago, I merely completed a simple application form and forked over $25 to the State Department. A few weeks later, my little blue book arrived, ready to accept stamps from friendly immigration agents worldwide.

That world ended on Sept. 11, 2001. Ordering a passport now sets you back $135, and you must also provide your Social Security number. According to the State Department:

“Your Social Security Number will be provided to Treasury, used in connection with debt collection and checked against lists of persons ineligible or potentially ineligible to receive a US passport, among other unauthorized uses.”

Currently, you don’t need to present copies of prior years’ tax returns to renew your passport, but Congress could impose this requirement anytime.

But that’s not enough. The State Department has proposed a new “Biographical Questionnaire” that, if approved, you might have to complete to receive a passport.

Sample entries on the proposed Form DS-5513 include:

  • Your mother’s residence one year before your birth
  • Your mother’s residence one year after your birth
  • Your mother’s place of employment at the time of your birth
  • Details of your mother’s pre-natal or post-natal medical care, if any
  • Your mother’s place of employment at the time of your birth
  • Details of the type of document, if any, your mother used to enter into the United States before your birth
  • The circumstances of your birth including the names (as well as address and phone number) of persons present or in attendance at your birth.
  • If there were any religious or institutional recoding of your birth or event occurring around the time of birth (Example: baptism, circumcision, confirmation or other religious ceremony).
  • A list of every address at which you’ve ever resided since birth.
  • The name and telephone number of every supervisor you’ve had at every job in your life, including as a temporary worker.
  • The name, address, and telephone number of every school you’ve ever attended.

You can see the draft Form DS-5513 for yourself here.

If I didn’t already have a passport, I’d be hard-pressed to come up with many of these details. My parents are deceased. I don’t know if my mother received pre-natal care, although I do have the name of the doctor who delivered me (also deceased). Circumcision? Well, I don’t recall the details. Does the State Department plan to inspect my foreskin as a condition of receiving a passport? And I would be hard pressed to recall every job I’ve ever had and every residence I’ve ever occupied, especially if I had to do so under penalty of perjury.

What’s more, the State Department can share the information on Form DS-5513 as a “routine use.” Who can receive it? Almost anyone: U.S. and foreign government agencies, private contractors, employers, international organizations, etc.

To be clear, the State Department is proposing that the questionnaire only be given to passport applicants who “submit citizenship or identity evidence that is insufficient or of questionable authenticity.” It estimates that only about 74,000 persons per year will need to complete this form. That’s about 0.5% of persons applying for a passport.

But of course, once Form DS-5513 comes into effect later this year, the criteria could be tightened anytime. For instance, it could required not just to obtain a new passport, but to renew an old one.

I could elaborate about the totalitarian implications of Form DS-5513, but I won’t. I’ll simply state that under what I call the “surveillance creep” principle, that once Form DS-5513 receives final approval, its use will be greatly expanded. Form DS-5513 is a wakeup call for any U.S. citizen applying or renewing their passport. It’s an unmistakable indication that in the future, it could be much more difficult to qualify for a U.S. passport. And without a passport, of course, you have no way to travel internationally.

If you’re a U.S. citizen, the advent of Form DS-5513 means that it’s more important than ever to get a second passport, “just in case.” If you qualify for a second passport by virtue of marriage or ancestry, don’t wait a moment longer to begin the process of acquiring it.

If you don’t qualify for a second passport on those grounds, it’s still possible to acquire one by making a contribution or investment to a handful of countries. In exchange, you’ll receive citizenship for life and a passport. The Commonwealth of Dominica and the Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis are the only countries with an official, legally mandated, citizenship-through-investment program. Several other countries, including one in the European Union, will award citizenship and passport upon performance of an outstanding service (including an investment).

Reprinted with permission from The Sovereign Society.

Mark Nestmann is a journalist with more than 20 years of investigative experience and is a charter member of The Sovereign Society's Council of Experts. He has authored over a dozen books and many additional reports on wealth preservation, privacy and offshore investing. Mark serves as president of his own international consulting firm, The Nestmann Group, Ltd. The Nestmann Group provides international wealth preservation services for high-net worth individuals. Mark is an Associate Member of the American Bar Association (member of subcommittee on Foreign Activities of U.S. Taxpayers, Committee on Taxation) and member of the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2005, he was awarded a Masters of Laws (LL.M) degree in international tax law at the Vienna (Austria) University of Economics and Business Administration.