Traveling with your family around the world can be an enriching, memorable experience, but before you embark on your journey, you need to make sure that everyone has the proper travel documents, including a passport.
Obtaining a passport for minors (under the age of 16) is a different process than adults, so it’s vital to read the requirements carefully in order to avoid lengthy processing delays. Read our in-depth guide for information on how to get a passport for your kids and babies and the documents needed to get the process started.
How to Get a Passport for Kids & Babies
First, all passport applicants under 16 must apply in person. You will need to fill out the Form DS-11, which is the same document for all first-time passport applicants. You can use the Form Filler wizard online, but make sure not to sign your child’s application until instructed to do so by the acceptance agent.
Application Tip: Are you a family that travels frequently? Tick the “52 page” box on the application for a larger passport book with 52 pages, at no additional cost.
Next, gather your documents required for applying, including:
- A Form DS-11
- U.S. Citizenship Evidence
- Parental Relationship documentation
- Parent’s Identification
- Parental Consent
Get a current passport photo taken of your child. Follow the official passport photo guidelines and take note of the exceptions made for children and babies. Note that some passport acceptance facilities provide photo services for an additional fee.
Submit your child’s completed package with required forms, photos and fees to your nearest passport acceptance facility. Processing times vary, but typically you can expect your child’s passport to arrive by mail in 4-6 weeks (2-3 weeks for expedited service). After about a week, you can check the status of your child’s application’s status online.
What You Need to Get a Passport for Kids & Babies
- A completely filled out Form DS-11.
- Evidence of your child’s U.S. Citizenship.
- A fully-valid, undamaged U.S. passport (may be expired)
- U.S. birth certificate:
- Issued by the city, county, or state of birth
- Lists applicant’s full name, date of birth and place of birth
- Lists the parent(s)’ full names
- Has the date filed with registrar’s office (must be within one year of birth)
- Has the registrar’s signature
- Has the seal of the issuing authority
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth
- Certificate of Citizenship
- Parental relationship documentation.
- Documentation that lists the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of the child applying for a passport.
- The following can be used to show a parental relationship:
- U.S. birth certificate (also evidence of U.S. citizenship)
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad (also evidence of U.S. citizenship)
- Foreign birth certificate
- Adoption decree
- Divorce/Custody decree
Please note: Some documents, like a U.S. birth certificate, show both U.S. citizenship and parental relationship. These documents must be originals or certified copies (not photocopies).
- Parent’s Identification
The parents/guardians must present one of the following identification documents:
- In-state, fully-valid driver’s license
- Valid or expired, undamaged, U.S. passport
- Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship
- Government employee ID (city, county, state or federal)
- U.S. military ID or military dependent ID
- Valid foreign passport
- Matricula Consular (Mexican Consular Identification, commonly used by a parent of a U.S. citizen child applicant)
If you cannot present one of the IDs above, read the list of other acceptable identification.
- Parental Consent
Both parents/guardians must authorize the issuance of the child’s passport. The best way to do this is for both parents/guardians to go with the child in person to apply for the passport. What if both parents/guardians cannot appear in person? Follow the official guidelines for specific circumstances, such as you have sole legal authority, one parent is unable to appear or you cannot locate the other parent.
- One current passport photo of the child.
Children must follow the same guidelines as adults for passport photos, however, there are exceptions made for babies and infants. It is acceptable if an infant’s eyes are not open or entirely open, while all other children must have their eyes open.
Tips for taking photos of infants and newborns:
- Lay the child on its back on a white blanket to ensure its head is supported without the aid of a hand.
- Cover a car seat with a plain white sheet and take a picture of your child in the car seat.
- Make sure no other person is in the photo.
- A photo with the child looking at the camera is preferred, although not required.
- Passport fees.
As of 2019, fees for a passport book for a child under the age of 16 is $80 (application fee) plus $35 (execution fee). For an extra $60, you can have the passport expedited. Don’t forget to check what payment methods are allowed at your passport acceptance facility, as checks and money orders are often the only forms of payment accepted.
How Long Passports for Kids & Babies Are Good For
Compared to the 10-year passport validity for adults, a passport for a child under the age of 16 is only valid for 5 years. You will need to repeat this process until the child reaches 16, at which they will receive a passport valid for 10 years.