Passports were issued in the U.S. beginning in the late 1700s, but weren’t required except during times of war until 1941. These records can be an excellent place to learn an immigrant’s date of arrival, the arrival ship and date of naturalization (if naturalized).
Two Quick Tips for Researching U.S. Passports for Genealogy
- Passports expired every few years, so people reapplied. You may find multiple applications for those who traveled abroad more than once. Subsequent applications will refer back to a prior one.
- In earlier years, look for married women and minor children in group passports issued under the name of the head of household.
Where to Find Passport Applications
- Original U.S. passport applications are at the National Archives; read more about various types of passport applications on the National Archives website.
- Search 1.8 million U.S. passport applications (1795-1925) on FamilySearch or Ancestry;
- Search an index to about 360,000 British applications at Findmypast.
A Page of History: Passport Applications by Phil Golfarb
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