Does a Baby Need a Passport ?

Two week old newborn baby boy sleeping on a tiny inflatable swim ring. He is wearing crocheted board shorts and black sunglasses.

Travel is stressful enough, and international travel with a young baby can be tedious for their caretakers. A common question regarding travel with infants is, does my baby need a passport to travel? It’s a very understandable question! Most of the time children under 2 don’t even need to pay for their airline tickets. Why would they need a passport?

Every U.S citizen regardless of age is required to have a U.S passport for international travel. Yes, even the cute, small baby. The parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of the said baby must apply for a first-time passport for minors under 16.

How To Apply For a Child Passport

First, you will fill out Form DS-11.

Unlike an adult passport, applying for a passport for a minor under 16 gives the child validity for 5 years. This means they can travel internationally for 5 years before they have to get a new one. You must print the form and fill it out.

The form will ask you for general information such as the child’s social security number. The application requires you to provide information and documents that give proof of U.S citizenship. It’s time to pull out the old box or file folder full of legal documents!

Note: Do not sign your passport application until instructed to do so by an acceptance facility agent. This is because they need to verify the identity of the applicant before the application is signed. 

Second, provide evidence of U.S citizenship.

You must provide an original or certified, physical copy of one of the following documents:

  • Undamaged, Valid passport (passport may be expired) 
  • A U.S Birth Certificate 
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth ( if you are unsure of this document, read about it here)
  • Certificate of Citizenship

Not only will you need to provide a physical copy of the evidence, but you will also need to provide a photocopy. The photocopy must be of the front and back of the physical copy. You must print the photocopy in black and white ink. The page must be on standard 8X11 paper, and the copy must remain single-sided. 

Note: If you plan on submitting a physical copy of a Birth certificate, keep in mind that some states deem it illegal to make a photocopy of a birth certificate. You can instead submit a second certified copy of your physical evidence.

Third, you must show parental relationships.

Not only do you have to have proof of your child’s citizenship, but you will also have to prove that you’re their parent. The documentation submitted must list the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of the child applying for the passport. The evidence must all be certified copies and not photocopies. Parents or legal guardians must submit one or more of the following:

Fourth, you must present your ID.

Parent(s) or legal guardian(s) must provide a form of identification to the acceptance agent. You must also provide a photocopy. The photocopy must present the front and back of your ID. It needs to be presented on standard paper and must remain single-sided. You may not decrease the size of the image, as it can alter legibility.

 Acceptable forms of ID as listed by the U.S Department of State are:

  • Valid or expired, undamaged U.S. passport book or passport card 
  • In-state, fully valid driver’s license or enhanced driver’s license with photo
  • Certificate of Naturalization 
  • Certificate of Citizenship 
  • Government employee ID (city, county, state, or federal)
  • U.S. military or military-dependent ID
  • Current (valid) foreign passport
  • Matricula Consular (Mexican Consular ID) – commonly used by a parent of a U.S. citizen child applicant
  • U.S. Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) – commonly used by a parent of a U.S. citizen child applicant
  • Trusted Traveler IDs (including valid Global Entry, FAST, SENTRI, and NEXUS cards)
  • Enhanced Tribal Cards and Native American tribal photo IDs
  • Other documents: 1) In-state, fully-valid learner’s permit with photo, 2) In-state, fully-valid non-driver ID with photo, or 3) temporary driver’s license with photo. Note: you may be asked to present an additional ID when presenting one of these three documents.

Fifth, you must show parental consent.

This step may be the trickiest to complete, only because both parents or legal guardians must be there in person with the applicant to show their consent. The U.S Department of State is aware that this may be difficult to accomplish considering the diversity of family dynamics that may be presented. Although it is recommended that both parents or legal guardians attend their in-person appointment, there are other viable options.

The U.S Department of State’s website has scenario-based options such as if one parent is not able to show up, if you have sole custody, or if you are not able to locate another parent. There is however extra paperwork that comes with these scenarios. You will most likely have to fill out a separate form, DS-3053 or DS-5525. You can find instructions on the U.S Department of State website.

Sixth, you must provide a passport photo.

You must provide a passport photo of the child. The child must be facing forward with their eyes open. If they are a young baby they are not required to have their eyes fully open in the photo.

  • The photo must have been taken within the last 6 months
  • The dimensions of your passport photo must be in a 2”X2” format
  • The photo may be printed on glossy or matt paper
  • The photo must be printed in color
  • You must take your photo in front of a plain, white, or off-white background
  • The photo may not be digitally altered

Seventh, calculate your fees. 

There are separate fees that the applicant must be aware of. There is a government fee and an acceptance facility fee.

For the government fee, the applicant must provide a check or money order paid to the order of the “ U.S Department of State”. The amount required to pay for a child’s passport book is currently $100.The acceptance facility fee will be $35 and must be paid separately.

Submitting Your Application

You must submit your application in person, at a Passport Acceptance Facility to verify the child’s and the parent’s identity. A Passport Acceptance facility is usually a Courthouse, Clerk of Court, Post Office, Library, University, or other municipal building.

A passport acceptance facility search page is provided on the U.S Department of State website. The search engine lets you put in your zip code to find a place that does passports near you, it also has phone numbers, operating hours, how to get an appointment (or if walk-ins are acceptable), and it’ll let applicants know if photo services are available on-site.

Processing Times 

The current processing time for a passport can range from 6 to 10 weeks from the day you submit your application. 

If you can’t wait for 6 to 10 weeks to receive your baby’s passport, the U.S Department of State does offer an expedited child passport service for an additional $60. However, the applicant must be within 14 days of international travel and must be able to prove it. Additionally, this only expedited your child’s passport to about 3 to 5 weeks. 

If you need your passport expedited, consider The Passport Office. They are a trusted passport agency in Tampa, Miami, Orlando, and Hollywood!

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