Just as every U. S. adult must present a valid passport for international air travel, so must each child have their own passport. At one time, children under a certain age could travel on their parent’s passport but that law has changed and now each must have their own. The requirements for a children passport applications are similar to that of getting an adult passport except for a couple of major particulars to which careful attention must be paid.

Every child under the age of 16 must apply in person with the application for a new passport, DS -11. DS-11 is the standard application for a new passport. The form DS-11 should be filled out but should not be signed until the agent requests it.

The child also must have acceptable proof of citizenship which can be a certified birth certificate, naturalization certification, consular record of birth abroad or citizenship certificate. If it is not possible to access these primary documents there are some secondary documents that can be used such as baptismal certificate, public school records, public records or family bibles. However, secondary documents will require a combination of documents rather than one.

In addition to documentation proving the child’s citizenship, the parents of the child must be present and submit identification such as a valid passport or government issued identification. Proof of relationship to the child for whom the passport is being issued is required for minors under the age of 16. Court adoption records, birth certificates naming both parents or legal guardianship papers can be used for those purposes.

Requirements for passports for minors aged 16 and 17 vary slightly but in a couple of significant ways. The minors aged 16 and 17 must appear to apply in person and they must either present photo ID or have a parent present their photo ID if they don’t have their own. A express passport application for a minor 16 or 17 can be presented by the minor with themselves as the applicant, unlike younger persons who require the presence of both parents for an application.

There are circumstances wherein children might be able to travel to a foreign country without the necessity of a passport. A cruise ship which leaves from a US port and whose destination is a port in the Western Hemisphere might not require the passengers have a valid passport. On the other hand, it is important to know that the country where the ship arrives may require visitors to have one.

Groups of US or Canadian children traveling with school, religious or sports organizations to countries which are adjacent to theirs may present a birth certificate rather than a passport. This regulation is applicable to arrival by land or sea. Air travel still requires a US passport for the child to travel.

When applying for a passport for child fast, it will normally take four to six weeks for the passport to arrive. If the passport is desired sooner, an urgent passport might be requested which can shorten the wait time to two to four weeks.

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