Does My Baby Need a Birth Certificate or Social Security Number to get a Passport?


In short, the answer is no. If your baby is anything like ours, he/she will not need a Birth Certificate (ever) and will not need a Social Security Number (SSN) until adulthood. What can one do to establish citizenship and identity? How will we travel? Won't the world come crashing down or men in black suits show up at our door asking for papers?

What follows is our story of how we got a passport (a powerful document which establishes both citizenship and identity) for our daughter without either a birth certificate or social security number.

We had our baby in a birthing center in Austin, TX. For some reason when she was born she looked nothing like the name we picked out for her. The midwives and administrative staff were on standby awaiting our instructions. We didn't want a birth certificate and social security number attached to a name we very well might not use. They told us if we did not pick a name then they would be inserting "Infant" as the first name and applying for us on our behalf. We asked them not to but they refused so we told them very kindly that we would not be signing any paperwork today. We didn't fill out any of the paperwork and explicitly told them not to apply for her a Social Security Number either until we had the naming business sorted out.

They were quite confused and probably afraid of not meeting their reporting requirements as a birthing institution. I could tell because they chased us out of the parking lot, stuffing paperwork in the car window (note: their requirements are met regardless of parent involvement).

With summer fast approaching, my wife began to nudge me to get this whole mess sorted out so we can fly to visit family overseas. I found our daughter's Birth Certificate, which read "Infant Reed." It would have taken a month or more to get this changed and mailed out to even begin the passport application process so I decided to apply without it.  After all, she was born here.

I found what the Passport Agency calls their "Secondary evidence of Identity" and "Secondary Evidence of Citizenship." And while no one at the entire Passport Agency, nor the application processor at the Post Office had ever heard of this and even insisted that my application will be denied, I succeeded and here is how. I gathered every alternative form of documentation I could think of: DS-11, Birth Affidavit, Witness Signatures, Baptismal Record, Doctor Records, Day Care Records, Announcement Cards, Passport Photos, a Private Birth Certificate, Family Bible Record and submitted them with a passport application. But that's not all that was needed.

After submitting the application, I actually received a letter in the mail saying that the documentation I submitted was insufficient to establish citizenship... "please submit a Birth Certificate" and here is how to order your birth certificate...

I called the agency and asked to speak with a supervisor. "I am certain that what I have submitted is not only sufficient but OVERKILL to establish identity and citizenship and have a feeling that because it did not contain primary evidence the processor did not even look at it." I sent her a link to their website and asked for her help and politely to "contact this processor and ask him/her to consider the documents presented as secondary evidence in the place of primary evidence and to please call me if they need any further explanation." I also explained our story and travel dates and plucked her heart strings on how I didn't want to become a "casualty in the bureaucratic process."

She was a very human and compassionate lady and must have wrote one heck of an email on my behalf. I called back a week later saying that I had not received a phone call and to my surprise was informed that this due to the fact that the application had been accepted. The hold had been taken off and the application and had been placed back in queue with all the accepted applications on their way to being printed and shipped.

I couldn't believe it! 

We shortly received her passport in the mail and celebrated with a trip overseas.  Moral of the story? Never make assumptions. What a powerful reminder that "the system" is in fact comprised of humans with hearts and minds and souls, some of whom are just waiting for the opportunity to make someone's day.

This is actually just one of many exemptions, secondary processes and opt-outs I now enjoy as a result of 'not making assumptions' and an unwavering faith in humanity to transcend systems of control. Compassion and respectful understanding are the real liberty enhancing technologies here, not just this secondary evidence process for getting a passport.

By the way, if you don't know where to start Frontier Liberty's own has done it before, and is here to help. Don't hesitate to reach out.

Update: my daughter has not needed a Birth Certificate or a SSN for anything since she was born. Besides traveling, she has not needed the passport either. She goes to doctors, daycares, and all the places other babies go. A Passport establishes both citizenship and identity, it is a powerful document and there is virtually nothing it cannot be used for in place of these other two liberty hostile documents.

When she needs a job, bank account and to do her taxes to avoid IRS mafia encounters, a SSN will be required. Many of these requirements such as the Customer Identification Program have been implemented because of the "temporary" measures put in place after 911 (2001) to combat terrorism. Others are federal funding contingent requirements which states comply with to get money from the Fed like the New Hire Reporting requirements which make SSN reporting by employers required to "track childcare payments[?]" I am hopeful that these temporary measures and funding contingencies will have been repealed by the time she comes of age. If not then my daughter will be set up for the civil rights case of the century and I am excited to give her such a worthy opportunity. That is planning for the future for you. Decision road is hers to walk though. She can ALWAYS get a SSN later but once a SSN has been assigned it cannot be "resent, removed or deleted" unless it is for a child for whom "(1) the number was issued through the Enumeration at Birth (EAB) program; (2) the parent did not request assignment of a Social Security number for the child at that time, and (3) the Social Security number has never been used." The International Social Security Association though just keeps coming up with new and exciting ways of solving world problems through tracking and enumeration of humans, even climate change.

Welcome to the Frontier of Liberty.

About the Author: Nick Reed is the Founder and Lead Consultant at Frontier Liberty, a first of it's kind liberty and privacy consulting service. is a one stop shop for liberty and privacy tools and resources. You can follow Frontier Liberty on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, Medium, and StumbleUpon. The original post can be found at