Is Your Social Security Number on Your Passport?

Most adult Americans have a driver's license or state issued ID card and almost all will have a Social Security card. You might be surprised then to learn just how few actually have a passport. It is estimated that around 42% of Americans have a passport.

In order to get these passports they have to supply documentation to the government which would include their Social Security number. This leads some to wonder if their specific tax number might be listed in their passport.

In this post we will learn more about passports and answer some questions such as if our Social Security numbers are in our government issued passports.

What Is a Passport?

U.S. passports are issued to citizens and nationals of the United States and are exclusively supplied by the U.S. Department of State. These travel booklets are one of two documents that can be used to enter and exit the United States. The other document is known as a passport card.

It is illegal for U.S. nationals and citizens to enter or exit the United States without a valid travel document such as a passport book or card. It not only serves as authority to travel internationally but is an accepted document to prove the identity of the bearer.

U.S. citizens can legally hold passports from other countries should their nationality warrant this but they must use their U.S. passport when entering or leaving the country.

History of the U.S. Passport

During the American Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783) American consular officials issued a small number of passports to citizens of the thirteen states. These were sheets of paper that held a description of the bearer and were valid for three to six months.

Then minister to France Benjamin Franklin based the design of these passports on French passports. There was no official requirement for passports outside of wartime in the U.S. up until around 1941. U.S. citizens did not need a passport to re-enter or leave the United States although some destinations abroad would require them.

During times of war presidents would issue temporary requirements for passports so as to control the movements in and out of the country. With certain European countries requiring passports for entry however those wishing to leave the country would need a passport.

Early on passports were being issued at both a federal and state level which led to some issues with certain countries. There were countries not willing to accept passports that had not been issued by the U.S. Federal Government.

The State department issued the federal passports and in 1856 they were given sole authority to do so. This meant that all valid passports should be accepted by foreign countries without issue. Obviously this could vary based on political climates at the time.

Is Your Social Security Number on Your Passport?

The very simple answer is that no, your Social Security number should not be on your passport and if it is then you have an issue. You will likely have to contact the Department of State to rectify this issue or if you live near a passport office you may be able to visit them to fix this.

There are several pieces of identifying information that you should find on your passport including your date of birth, full legal name and a recent picture but your Social Security number is not one of these pieces of biographical data.

You will be issued a passport number that is in the document itself. There will also be valid from and until dates listed in the document. Other than these numbers you will not see your Social Security number anywhere.

Passport Book Vs. Card

As mentioned there are two forms of U.S. passport, the booklet which most people associate with passports and the lesser known card format. The information displayed on both these documents is identical leaving the main difference being that the booklet has a number of blank pages.

These pages are stamped with entry and exit stamps as you enter and exit the U.S. and other international countries. The passport card works in much the same way as the booklet but just has less space for stamps.

Neither of these documents will feature your Social Security number but you will likely need your social security number to qualify to receive a passport.

How Do You Apply for a Passport?

In order to apply for a U.S. passport you will need to fill out a Form DS-11 of which one of the questions asked is your Social Security number. You can locate this form on the State.gov website. Other information you will need supply includes:

  • Full legal name
  • Social Security number
  • Address
  • Date of birth

As part of the application you will need to include documentation to support the information you have listed in the form.

  • U.S. birth certificate or certificate of naturalization
  • Photo ID such as drivers license or state-issued ID
  • A recent photograph taken to specific requirements

Photocopies of documents provided are generally not sufficient so most people applying for a new passport will go to a passport office or participating post office to make the application in person.

The passport process can take between 6 – 8 weeks on average but can be expedited for additional fees. It is wise then to apply for your passport far in advance of you actually planning to travel. The Department of State is backlogged at the best of times but with Covid-19 issues still persisting, wait times are even longer than usual.

Passport Picture Requirements

One of the stumbling blocks people often hit when getting a passport is getting the pictures wrong. The Department of State can be strict on the pictures because they want the image to be recognizable as the person who is the owner of the passport.

Obviously no Instagram filters or photoshop is allowed as a general rule of thumb unless you look horrible in your passport photo you probably did something wrong. Below is a list of the requirements for acceptable passport photos

  • Two identical pictures are required per application
  • Picture must be less than 6 months old
  • Selfies and group pictures are not acceptable
  • Background must be white or off-white with no patterns or objects
  • Must be a color photograph
  • No digital altering of the image is allowed ( you must look as you do in person)
  • U.S. passport photo dimensions should be exactly 2x2 inches (51 x 51 mm), with the head measuring from 1 inch to 1 3/8 inches (25 mm - 35 mm), and the eyes placed between 1 1/8 inches to 1 3/8 inches (28 mm – 35 mm) from the bottom of the photo
  • Must be on either matte or glossy quality photo paper

The direction you are looking and your expression can also cause a photo to be disqualified. So here are some guidelines for how to pose.

  • Face directly at the camera as you would for a driver's license photo
  • Try to keep a neutral expression a small smile is okay but nothing extravagant or goofy
  • Eyes should be open, hair out of your face and no shadows over your face
  • Wear normal everyday clothes; a superman costume is not a good idea
  • Do not wear headwear other than that worn for religious purposes that you would likely wear in person
  • Do not wear glasses as since November 2016 they are no longer allowed in passport pictures (you may be asked to remove glasses by security checks sorry about that)
  • Facial hair should only be present if you would normally have it
  • Facial jewelry is acceptable as long as it does not obscure your face.
  • Permanent tattoos are fine but anything temporary should not be on your face in these pictures

Can You Apply for a Passport Without a Social Security Number?

It may surprise you but actually you can apply for a passport even without a Social Security number. You do of course still need to be a U.S. citizen to qualify for a passport. Non citizens will have to use the passports issued from their country of birth.

If you are a non citizen and want a U.S. passport you will first have to go through the USCIS and obtain citizenship status. You may already have a Social Security number as a resident alien but unless you obtain full citizenship this will not get you a U.S. passport.

It is not hard to apply for a passport without a Social Security number as long as you are a citizen. Even though you don’t need the number itself you might still want to apply for one anyway for other reasons including taxes.

In order to get a passport without a Social Security number you simply need to provide a sworn statement that you were never issued a Social Security card. Only do this however if the statement is true. Simply losing your card and being too lazy to get a new one might lead to issues further down the line.

Conclusion

You should never see your Social Security number anywhere in your passport even though you will likely need it to obtain a passport in the first place. It is not part of the biographical data included in a passport so if it does appear there has been a mistake and you should contact the Department of State to fix the issue.

Reference SSA Locator

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