Two weeks ago I wrote a post about getting your first passport or renewing your passport. But those rules only work for us travelers 18 years old and up! This blog post is about getting/renewing a passport for those 0-17 years old. If you’ve got little ones, not-so-little ones, or know someone who can benefit from this info—keep your brain primed to learn! We’ll start with children who are under 16 years old and getting a passport for the first time.
Step 1: Fill out Form DS-11
Form DS-11 can be found here. (You might remember it from the previous blog post.) And just like an adult’s application, it is probably best to fill it out online so it’s entirely legible. You’ll need to know your child’s name (as it appears on the birth certificate), date of birth, social security number, physical characteristics, as well as information about you and your child’s other parent (if that information is known.) So far, so good!
Step 2: Get Your Child’s Passport Photo Taken
Like last time, I highly recommend going to a professional to get this done. You can go to AAA ($10 for members, $15 for non-members), or get your child’s picture taken at the post office ($15) when you arrive to get your child’s passport.
However the one instance where it might be easier–for the picture and your sanity—is to take your baby’s picture yourself. The state department offers tips for taking a picture of your baby here. For example, lay your baby on a white sheet (because passport photos require a white background) so its head is supported. Make sure you aren’t casting any shadows onto your baby’s face, and remember: open eyes are also a must.
Step 3: Photocopy Your ID (or Your Child’s)
If your child has a government-issued ID, make a photocopy (front and back of the ID on a piece of 8½x11 white piece of paper) and bring it with the rest of your documents.
But chances are your child does not. And that’s okay! If your child does not have a government-issued ID, you just need to make a copy of your ID. Easy peasy. We have five steps left—stay sharp!
Step 4: Gather Proof of US Citizenship
This is proof of your child’s citizenship, not yours. You’ll bring your child’s birth certificate (not a copy) or other accepted proof of citizenship (as listed here). You will be surrendering your child’s birth certificate temporarily. So be prepared for the original birth certificate to be gone for 3-6 weeks depending on the processing speed you choose.
Step 5: Gather Proof of Parental Relationship
If you have already gathered your child’s birth certificate, then you’re all set. If you did not give birth to your child, and have custody, there are several other ways you can prove your parental relationship: adoption decree, divorce/custody decree. Click here to see more examples. You’ll have to bring one of those pieces of proof with you.
Step 6: Gather Parental Consent
If possible, both parents must appear at the passport acceptance agency with the child while applying for a passport. If one parent is unable to appear (deployment, travel, etc.) but still maintains custody over the child, you must bring form DS-3053: Statement of Consent, which must be signed and notarized.
If you are the sole guardian of your child, you must bring proof. A court order of sole guardianship or a death certificate are just two examples of proof. Click here to see more examples of proof. You may also need to fill out Form DS-5525 if there are special circumstances that prevent the other guardian of the child from being present.
Blegh, enough of forms already! Two more steps left, and they’re some of the easiest!
Step 7: Bring a Check or Money Order
Like I say in my earlier passport post, I think it’s wisest to bring a check. The amount I was quoted online when I was renewing my passport was incorrect, so a money order would have been useless! Children’s passports cost less, but your ultimate cost will still be determined by whether you choose expedited or routine processing.
Step 8: Go to the Passport Acceptance Agency
Shoo, you did it! You gathered all the necessary items for your child’s passport. A passport acceptance agency is often a post office, but sometimes it’s an independent business. You can look at this website to find a passport acceptance agency near you.
Congratulations! Your child will obtain his or her first passport in 3-6 weeks!
Now I know you still have a couple questions. First off, what if you’re just renewing your child’s passport? Passports issued to children under the age of 16 are only valid for 5 years. So that’s the first bummer. The second bummer? You cannot renew a minor’s passport through the mail, like you’d be able to your own.
If you’re renewing your child’s passport, you still have to follow the same steps you would if you were getting them a new passport.
And second, what if my child is 16 or 17 years old?
16- and 17-year-olds are legally allowed to apply for their own passport themselves. They will still have to appear in person whether they’re renewing or getting a brand new passport.
See last week’s blog post about getting a new passport/renewing a passport.
16- and 17-year-olds should also bring evidence of parental awareness: either you go with them (and in this case only one guardian needs to be present) or they bring a signed statement of consent with a photocopy of your government-issued ID.
So now you know! Your child is now just as ready as you are to travel internationally. If you have more questions, or you’re ready to plan your trip, contact me here!
Now get out there and go!