How to Get a U.S. Passport For a Child Under 16

 

So you’ve decided to travel internationally with a child – Great!  One of the first things you’ll need to do is get your child a passport.  Don’t be overwhelmed by the process, it’s actually simply.

Keep in mind, the application process for children over 16 years old is different.  If your child is almost 16 years old and you can wait, I’d recommend applying after their 16th birthday – you’ll get an additional 5 years on the passport and it will only cost $30 more.

If you need your passport too, you’ll want to apply for both passports at the same time.  They’ll need your certified birth certificate when you apply (it gets returned by mail with your passport) for each application.  So unless you have multiple birth certificates it just makes sense to apply for them both at the same time.

Is you little one excited to get their passport? Print out this Youth Passport Activity Book created by the Department of State.

U.S. Passport for a minor

When to Apply for Your Passport?

I’d recommend starting the application process as soon as you decide to travel internationally.  The regular processing time is about 6 weeks.  If you need it sooner, you’ll have to pay for expedited service and/or overnight mailing – almost doubling the cost of the passport.  Apply Early!  You don’t want the stress of wondering if your passport will arrive in time for your flight.  Leave time for the unexpected.  Instead of receiving your passport in the mail it is possible to receive a rejection letter. Photos, even ones taken at the Post Office, are sometimes rejected.

Where to Apply for Your Passport?

If you planned ahead, you’ll be applying  in person at a Passport Acceptance Facility; usually a post office or a clerk of courts office.  They offer routine processing and expedited processing.

If you’re traveling within 2 weeks, you’ll need to apply at a Department of State Passport Agency.  You’ll need an appointment along with proof of your immediate international travel date.  They only offer expedited processing here, so you will have to pay the additional expediting fee.  To make an appointment call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778.

What Do I Need to Apply for a Passport?
1. Application For A U.S. Passport Form DS-11

Download & print a blank form, fill out on-line and print.  Or pick up a form at your local post office.   *Don’t forget to fill out application in black ink.

U.S. Passport Application

2. Evidence of U.S. Citizenship – Child’s Certified U.S. Birth Certificate

If your child doesn’t have a birth certificate you can show evidence of citizenship with a previous undamaged passport, Certificate of Naturalization, Certificate of Citizenship, or a Consular Report of Birth Abroad.  If you have none of the above, a combination of the following will work; a delayed birth certificate, hospital records, religious records (certificate of baptism, communion, blessing, etc.,) and early school records.

3. Evidence of Parental Relationship – Child’s Certified Birth Certificate

This relationship is usually proven with the child’s birth certificate (birth certificate can be used to prove both U.S. citizenship and your parental relationship).  Other acceptable documents include an adoption decree, divorce/custody decree, or a consular report of a birth abroad.

4. Photo Identification

A parent’s valid driver’s license (or child’s if they have one) or a current undamaged U.S. Passport.  You can also use a valid Military ID, Certificate of Naturalization, or a valid Government employee ID.  Copy both the front and the back.

5. Photocopy of Above Photo Identification
6. Parental Consent

Both parents must be present when applying.

– If that’s not possible a notarized DS-3053 (Statement of Consent) from the missing parent is needed along with a photocopy of their photo identification (front and back.)

– If the child only has one parent, evidence showing that must be submitted.  Proof of sole authority may include a parent’s certified death certificate, a court order granting sole legal custody, a court order permitting a sole parent to apply for the child’s passport, or a judicial declaration of incompetence of the non-applying parent.

– If one parent is unable to be located to give their consent, Form DS-5525 (Statement of Exigent/Special Family Circumstances) is needed.

– If neither parent is present a third party can apply for the child’s passport with a signed, notarized statement or affidavit from the parents giving permission for the third party to apply for the child’s passport along with photocopies of the parent’s identification (front and back.)

7. Passport Photo – 2” x 2” color photo

The requirements for a passport photo are very specific.  While you can take the photo yourself, I would suggest letting a professional take it.  Their passport cameras and lighting set-up allow for no shadows and an evenly lit face which is hard to duplicate without the proper equipment.  Photos can generally be taken at passport acceptance facilities, local drug stores, and office stores.  When searching for a passport acceptance facility you can see which locations provide photo services on-site and nearby.

8. Payment

You will need a check or money order made out to “U.S. Department of State” to pay the application fee.  Some locations may be able to take cash.  This fee cannot be paid with a credit or debit card.

The execution fee is paid separately.  Money orders can be taken at all facilities.  Check with your location if you’re planning on paying this fee with a personal check or cash; not all locations will accept these methods.  If applying at a post office, a credit card can be used.U.S. Passport Fees

 

I’ve Submitted My Application, Now What?

About a week after your application is submitted, you’ll be able to track the application’s status online.  You’ll need the applicants last name, last four digits of their social security number, and their date of birth.  You can also sign up to receive automatic email updates.

Once the status indicates that your passport has been processed and mailed, you should receive it within 10 business days.  If you do not receive it, notify the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778.

I hope you enjoy travel internationally with your child.  Leave a comment below and let us know where you’re going.

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How to get a U.S. passport for a child under 16

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