Requesting U.S. Passport Applications
Using Ancestry.com Boston Passenger Lists I discovered my great-grandfather returned to Ireland in 1932, at the age of sixty. On the passenger manifest, next to his name and address, was a United States passport number and its issue date. I was intrigued. Why did he go to Ireland at the height of the depression? How long was he there?
I wrote to the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Information Resources Management requesting a copy of his passport application under the Freedom of Information Act (5 USC 552). By doing this, I saved the $60 fee the Department of State normally charges for this service. The downside is I had to wait five months for the document.
But it was worth it!
I received a copy of his application today and it contains his birth date, place and country of birth; the location and date of his naturalization; his current address; the name of his father and his fatherâ€™s country of birth; the countries he planned to visit with the passport, the reason for his visit; how long he was traveling for, the port he was sailing from, the name of the ship, the date he was departing; his height, age, hair and eye color; his occupation; his signature; a signature and address for an identifying witness (his brother-in-law in this case); and best of all, a copy of his photograph! There is space on the application for names of a wife and children, with personal data, but these were left blank.
So for those of you with U.S. naturalized immigrants in your ancestry, don’t stop searching for a passenger manifest just for their first trip to the USA. Look for a possible trip home later in life. If you find a passport number and date of issue, you can submit a request for a copy under the Freedom of Information Act (5 USC 552). You will need to provide credible evidence to indicate the person is deceased, in order to overcome the Privacy Act restrictions. (I used photocopies of his Irish birth certificate and obituary.) You will also need to provide the following information: The passport applicant’s name; passport number; year of birth; naturalization date; place of residence at the time of the application; approximate year of travel; and your name, mailing (postal) address, and telephone number.
Submit the request to:
Department of State
Office of Information Resources Management
515 22nd Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20522-6001
And then just wait patiently–within six months you could have a treasure trove in your mailbox and answers to your questions! In my case, my great-grandfather wished to visit relatives, and stayed there for nine months!
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