U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925

The U.S. government has issued passports to American citizens since 1789, albeit through several different agencies throughout the years. For the most part, passports were not required of U.S. citizens for foreign travel until World War I. Passports were required for a short time during the Civil War (Aug. 19, 1861-Mar. 17, 1862). An Executive Order given in 1915, and then later an act of Congress given in 1918, established the passport requirement for citizens traveling abroad. This law lapsed with the formal termination of World War I through treaties with Germany, Austria, and Hungary in 1921. In 1941, with the onset of World War II, the Congressional act of 1918 was reinstated. U.S. citizens have been required to carry a passport for foreign travel ever since.

This database contains passport applications from 1795-1925, including emergency passport applications (passports issued abroad) from 1877-1907. It also contains passport application registers for 1810-1817, 1830-1831, and 1834-1906. Passports issued March 4-5, 1919 (numbers 67500-67749) are missing from the NARA collection and therefore, are missing from this database as well.
Some passport applications include a photo of the applicant. To receive a U.S. passport, a person had to submit proof of U.S. citizenship. This was usually in the form of a letter, affidavits of witnesses, and certificates from clerks or notaries. Sometimes these other documents are included as part of the application.

There was a variety of passport application forms used throughout the years. By 1888 there were separate application forms for native citizens, naturalized citizens, and derivative citizens. As a result, all of the above listed information may not be available for every applicant. Likewise, there may be additional information, other than what is shown above, listed on the application form. Some information may only be obtained by viewing the image of the application.