The Place of Birth (POB) is probably one of the most important information contained in modern day passports.
The Place of Birth (POB) field in passport data and Biometric data in chip stored are immutable does not change, even if a person change their identity or name. There cannot be different places of birth for for one person. It does not matter how many passports you have. All passports will record the same POB. Without this information, international countries refuse to accept passports or even refuse entry at borders . Further many countries, do not even issue passports to their citizens for international travel with this field blank.
Why? because absence of this information is considered security threat. This field Place of Birth (POB), along with Name, Surname, Date of birth (DOB) along with biometric information (fingerprints, blood type, facial features) are unique identifiable information, checked against international databases of known suspect and terrorists.
Why Place of Birth is Important?
Whats even more important to know is Place of Birth (POB) field never changes, no matter how many passports you have, even issued by different countries. The DOB and POB values never changes for an individual and it helps to uniquely identify a person. Any identity change done changing legal name, may give a new identity to individual but wont change their biometrics and place and date of birth.
When entering or leaving a country, border control and immigration authorities use the place of birth as part of the verification process. The place of birth on a passport also helps confirm the nationality or citizenship of the passport holder indirectly.
Missing or blank POB is often considered security threat at borders. This is because it make it easy for individuals to conceal their identity. For example. Mr. X could be born in Iran, but a naturalised US citizen.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) sets common standards for passports and according to ICAO, inclusion of the place of birth is optional. ICAO has set a standard, when choosing to include or omit the Place of Birth, the travel document issuing State or organization should take into consideration any current political sensitivities linked to the State or territory and whether it is a State or territory recognized by visa-issuing authorities in other countries.
ICAO standard for Machine Readable Passports (MRP). MRP currently being phased out and replaced with ePassports.
A study submitted to congress on deleting place of birth information indicated concerns that certain foreign born American citizens might be vulnerable to political harassment or physical violence because birthplace information was shown on U.S. passports. This concern has grown in recent years with the increase in international terrorism and Americans could be easily singled out based on POB.
In 1986 two countries, Canada and Austria-took action regarding the birthplace information in their passports. Canada began giving its citizens the option of deleting their birthplace, but relatively few leave exercised that option.In Austria, the birthplace was deleted from all passports; Austrian officials said they had received no public response and therefore assumed there were no objections.
POB – Unknown
Marking the POB as ‘Unknown’ category is intended for placement in biographical entries about deceased individuals, primarily from antiquity – whose place of birth is lost to history and never likely to be known. It does not apply to living people.
Canada is one such country that legally allows omission or deletion of place of birth information in passports and travel documents, but the Government of Canada warns absence of this information cause too many issues.
- problems getting a visa or even denied
- delays at border crossings
- refusal of entry, as some countries need place of birth information
United States will not issue a U.S. passport with no POB listing. The POB designation is an integral part of establishing an individual’s identity. It distinguishes that individual from other persons with similar names and/or dates of birth, and helps identify claimants attempting to use another person’s identity.
The information also facilitates retrieval of passport records to assist the Department in determining citizenship or notifying next of kin or other person designated by the individual to be notified in case of an emergency.
The US state department 2006 report found identity theft is the primary tactic used by individuals fraudulently applying for U.S. passports. Specifically, impostors using other people’s legitimate birth and other identification documents accounted for about 69 percent of passport fraud detected in fiscal year 2004, while false claims of lost, stolen, and damaged passports and other methods accounted for the remaining 31 percent of cases.
Air / Sea
In case of birth in international waters or air travel, the place of birth information in passports must be written as
- IN THE AIR
- AT SEA
The place of birth of such a persons depends on the law of the countries involved, which include the nationality of the plane or ship, the nationality(-ies) of the parents and/or the location of the plane or ship (if the birth occurs in the territorial waters or airspace of a country).
UK long established practice for passports and travel documents to record the holder’s place of birth by showing the town of birth only. The place of birth shown on the passport should be the same as the place of birth shown on the birth certificate (that is the town, city, village, hamlet, etc where the individual was born).
The Home office will refer to ‘place of birth’ and ‘country of birth’ as two separate items of a customer’s information. The customer’s place and country of birth is part of the customer’s identity, affects their nationality and can impact their entitlement to a passport. The customer’s place or country of birth may tell the authorities whether there are any vulnerability indicators that we must consider as part of their application (for example, if we are aware that forced marriages or abductions are common).
In exceptional circumstances, and to assist a passport holder where it is known that the inclusion on a place of birth has caused difficulties, the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) can enter instead the district or suburb in which the person was born, so long as this is recorded on the documents produced to establish the passport holder’s nationality. This can make the town of birth less obvious, while maintaining the correctness of the entry.
If the customer’s naturalisation or registration certificate shows ‘UNKNOWN’, the customer’s place of birth on their UK passport will show as ‘Unknown’. Kurdistan and North Cyprus are not recognised states and should not therefore be used as places of birth in UK passports.
St.Kitts & Nevis
St Kitts and Nevis initiated a recall on all biometric passports issued between January 2012 and July 2014, and replaced them with new passports which showed the holder’s place of birth as well as any previous name changes. Any passports not returned by 31 January 2015 were cancelled by the government.
This was done due concerns from Canada and the United States that the passports issued under citizenship by investment program allow travellers to obscure their true identities. This shows the importance of POB field in strengthening the security of passports.
Note: All passports issued under citizenship by investment programs must have POB , as a part of new security measures implemented by several countries.
The “Place of birth” information is added in new passports from January 1, 2023 in accordance with the Ministry of Public Security’s Circular 68/2022-TT-BCA (Circular 68). Vietnamese new passport.
The Place of Birth (“nơi sinh”) added to newly issued Vietnam passports 2023
Prior to 1 July 2022, all Vietnamese passports had the “Place of birth” filed, which showed the province of birth of the holder (or the country of birth, if born overseas). The US State Department determined that for visa application purposes, the new Vietnam passport, issued starting July 1, 2022, which does not contain a birthplace, must include a Vietnam government endorsement page that states place of birth information.
In 2016, the Norwegian government replaced birthplace details with ‘birthplace unknown’ in the passports of naturalised citizens from 31 Asian and African countries. Many informants connected the ‘birthplace unknown’ case to broader concerns erasing their identity, causing racism and discrimination in Norwegian society, and, in particular, the potential for increased racial profiling by police and security authorities in Norway. Once interviewed person said “they take your background away from you, in a way. It’s like when it’s says that [birthplace unknown], then it’s like they get rid of everything, the background.”