Kansas woman told birth certificate wasn’t enough to prove citizenship for passport
FAIRWAY, KS (KCTV) — Born and raised in Kansas, Gwyneth Barbara didn’t expect this kind of hassle.
Barbara had been issued a U.S. passport before, but this time around, Barbara was told her birth certificate wasn’t good enough to prove her citizenship.
“It’s like they’re retroactively declaring that I was never a citizen,” Barbara said.
Barbara was born in a farmhouse in the 1970s in Leavenworth County. She had a birth certificate. Her father went to the courthouse days after she was born to certify her birth -- raised seal and all.
The local passport agency accepted her documentation as satisfactory for her passport application. Days later, she received a letter from the federal division of the U.S. Passport Agency out of Houston, TX, telling her the application was denied and required further documentation.
“I have a birth certificate it was accepted before, why wouldn’t it be accepted again?” Barbara explained.
The letter stated, because her birth certificate was not issued at a institution or hospital, it was not considered proof enough of her citizenship.
She received a letter asking her to submit any number of the listed additional documents.
“Border crossing card or green card for your parents issued prior to your birth? My parents were born in the United States….Early religious records? We don’t have any. Family Bible? They won’t accept a birth certificate but they will accept a family Bible?” Barbara said.
Meantime, she did her best to dig up any of the random documents she was be asking to provide.
“I was absolutely furious ... I went to sleep yelling at the passport agency in my head. I woke up yelling at them in my head,” she said.
After weeks of unreturned phone calls and unanswered questions, Barbara contacted U.S. Senator Jerry Moran’s office for help. The senator’s office launched an inquiry and followed up with another. A few days later, Barbara received her passport in the mail, with no explanation.
According to the federal website, there is no policy stating a birth certificate must come from a hospital or other official institution. To see all of the requirements click here.
When KCTV5 called the U.S. Passport Agency, the employee answering the phone said a county issued birth certificate for a home birth was acceptable for a passport application, but in some cases, that decision is made on a "case by case basis."
When KCTV5 asked the U.S. Passport Agency for an interview or comment, KCTV5 received an email directing KCTV5 to the passport application website.
KCTV5 contacted Moran’s office, asking for more details concerning what transpired after Barbara contacted the senator’s office and soon received her passport in the mail. A spokesperson for Moran told KCTV5 that the office was not able to comment on private citizen issues.
Barbara is concerned, if this happened to her without this being an official federal policy, what may happen next. She contacted KCTV5 because she felt it was important to notify citizens about what was, to her, a surprising, inexplicable hurdle she had to overcome to prove she was born in the United States.