Shortcomings of U.S. Passport-Application Forms (2010-2013)

Stephen Krueger


January 27, 2013

Between 1789 and 1941, use of passports, by United States citizens, to leave or enter the United States, was mandatory only during the War Between the States (1861-1865) and in relation to World War I (1914-1921). The contemporary era of mandatory passport use, by United States citizens, to leave or enter the United States, began on November 29, 1941.

A provision of the Privacy Act is that collection of personal information, by a United States government agency, is limited to that which is “relevant and necessary” to a mission of an agency. Here, the agency is the State Department, and the mission is passport issuance.

Form DS-11 (12-2010) is a U.S. passport-application form which will be in use through December 31, 2013. More than half of the 22 questions on that form are not relevant and necessary to passport issuance.

Consequently, filed Forms DS-11 (12-2010) are revealing dossiers, maintained illegally by the State Department, on millions of Americans.

A State Department regulation expresses the claim of the State Department that the United States, not passport holders, owns issued passports. No statute authorized the State Department to promulgate that regulation.

A passport represents the right to travel abroad. If citizens own passports, they have thereby the right to travel abroad. Their passports, and, so, the right, may not be taken away, except upon a noticed hearing.

If the United States owns issued passports, citizens do not have the right to travel abroad. Their passports, and, so, the right, may taken away at any time, for no reason. An owner (United States) of property (a passport) does not need to give a reason to a possessor (a citizen) to take back the owned property (the passport). Thereby, citizens have merely a revocable license to travel abroad.

There is a set of two dozen State Department regulations, under which passport issuances are denied, and issued passports may be revoked, other than for lack of United States nationality. Only half a dozen of those standards are supported by statutes. The remainder were promulgated by the State Department without statutory authorization.

With or without statutory authorization, mission creep is undesirable. It is a misuse of passport authority to deny passports, or to revoke them, for a reason other than lack of United States nationality.

See also “Passports in the Twenty-First Century,” posted on the SSRN.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 24

Keywords: dossier, Form DS-82, laissez-passer, national emergency, safe-conduct, social-security number, SSN, United States passport, World War II

JEL Classification: K29, K33

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Date posted: September 12, 2009 ; Last revised: September 7, 2013

Suggested Citation

Krueger, Stephen, Shortcomings of U.S. Passport-Application Forms (2010-2013) (January 27, 2013). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1471657 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1471657

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