No matter who you are or how old you are, everyone needs a US passport to exit the country, children and newborn babies included.
However, the passport application process is a bit different for anyone under the age of 16. Read on to learn how to apply for a US passport for a baby!
This post on how to get a US passport for a baby contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
Before our oldest was born, we knew we had a family reunion in Thailand when he’d be 6 months old and that we’d need to get him a US passport.
Having only gotten passports for ourselves (and it had been quite a few years) we had to do a bit of research to figure out how to get a US passport for a baby.
We ended up having to drive to a neighborhood far away in order to get it on time.
When our youngest was 2 months old, we decided to plan a trip to Europe for when he’d be 6 months old. We went online to look for the child passport application form.
I found one here. I was able to fill it out on my computer and then print it.
Then, I searched online to figure out which post offices near me accepted passports and had to check appointment days/times to see what worked with my family.
The hardest part was NOT SIGNING the form until we got to the Post Office to apply.
After we had the form filled out (but not signed) I took some passport photos of my baby.
We have white bed sheets on our bed, so I just pulled the covers off the bed and laid my son down. To avoid shadows on his face, we just used daylight and a flash on my iPhone.
We took several photos so we’d have options, as passport photos can be really specific.
Here are passport photo guidelines. My husband found this website to be especially helpful when printing the passport photos at home.
Find out the best family passport holder here!
Our experience at the post office was meh. We waited in line for 10 minutes past our appointment time.
We had our 3-year-old and our baby with us. There wasn’t enough room for us all to be at the counter at the same time, so it was cramped.
The appointment took about 20 minutes. At the end, we were asked for a check for the passport fee. We didn’t bring it with us, but thankfully we were able to get a money order for a small fee.
Therefore, before you begin the child passport application process, note that there are two major differences between the passport application process for children and adults.
First of all, any child under the age of 16 MUST apply for a passport in person and with a legal guardian.
Additionally, children’s passports are only valid for five years, unlike adult passports which are valid for ten years.
So, even if you already know how to get a US passport for a baby, definitely verify the passport’s expiration date before you leave on a trip (do this for your passport as well).
This way, you can verify that you’ll be able to enter the country since many places require that a passport is valid for up to six months beyond the date of travel.
However, to make the process of getting a US passport for a child even easier, here are 8 steps that you’ll need to take in order to acquire, or obtain another child’s passport since a passport for a child cannot be renewed.
8 Things to Know When you Obtain a US Passport for a Baby
1. GATHER ALL YOUR ESSENTIAL DOCUMENTS
Before you even begin the passport application process, you’ll need proof of the minor’s citizenship (like an original or certified birth certificate, a certificate of citizenship, consular report of birth abroad, an undamaged U.S. passport, etc.), proof that the person accompanying the minor is a legal guardian (an original or certified birth certificate or a consular report of citizenship are the easiest to bring since they also fulfill the requirement for the child’s proof of citizenship.
But if you don’t have either, an adoption decree, foreign birth certificate or divorce/custody decree are accepted too), and proof of the parents identification (a driver’s license, domestic or foreign passport, certificate of naturalization or citizenship, a Mexican matricula consular, or U.S. military/U.S. government employee I.D).
Finally, be sure to make copies of every piece of identification that you, and your child, use since officials require document copies in order to process your child’s passport.
2. YOU CANNOT APPLY ONLINE
Yes this is 2019 and one of the few things you cannot take care of online since anyone under the age of 16 must apply for a passport in person, with their legal guardian.
3. YOU CAN TAKE YOUR OWN PHOTO
According to the U.S. Department of State, “When taking photos of newborns and infants, please make sure no other person is in the photo, and the child is looking at the camera (preferably with his/her eyes open, not required for infants and newborns).
For infants and newborns, lay the child on his/her back on a white blanket or sheet to ensure his/her head is supported without the aid of a hand. Make sure there are no shadows on the child’s face if you are taking the picture from above.
Alternatively, cover a car seat with a plain white sheet and take a picture of your child in the car seat.”
Also be sure that the photo is printed on a 2 inch by 2 inch piece of film. However, the easiest way to do this might be to have someone else take the photo for you.
Just type “passport photo” and your zip code into Google and you’ll easily be able to find a ton of places where you can get the photo taken and printed out at the same time.
4. FILL OUT THE CHILD PASSPORT APPLICATION FORM
This form can be found on the Department of State passport website.
Once you fill out the entire form, visit your nearest passport acceptance facility. And while some post offices can do the job, not all of them can.
Therefore, definitely search for your local zip code on the U.S. State Department’s website before visiting your nearest post office.
If you can, also try to be strategic about applying for your child’s passport.
Typically, January is the best month to start the passport application process since you’re applying before the summer rush. And, accordingly, will receive your child’s passport much more quickly.
Typically though, it will take anywhere between 6 and 8 weeks for your child’s passport to be processed and mailed to you.
However, if you’re in a rush, you can expedite passport delivery (for a fee) and receive the passport with 2 or 3 weeks. You can also rush your order and receive the passport in just eight business days.
5. YOU CAN APPLY AT YOUR LOCAL POST OFFICE
Many post offices have someone there who can process passport applications.
They have very limited hours and you may need to make an appointment, so check here first.
6. BOTH PARENTS SHOULD BE PRESENT
This was tricky for us because most appointments are during the work day for a few hours.
Therefore, if both parents are unable to be present, the absent parent must provide consent so that the minor can obtain a passport.
You can do this by filling out a consent form from the US government. If you have sole custody, you will need to show evidence of this as well.
However, regardless of your personal situation, you must have your consent form filled out before you apply for your child’s passport since your request to process a passport will be denied without it.
7. SUBMIT AN OFFICIAL COPY OF YOUR BABY’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE
You can’t submit a photocopy. The birth certificate will be returned to you separately from the passport.
8. YOU MUST PAY THE $80 PASSPORT FEE AND THE $25 PROCESSING FEE IN PERSON
The passport will cost $95 if you purchase a passport card too.
Now, while some passport processing centers only accept checks and money orders, others only accept cash.
Still others allow for credit card payment, so definitely research your location and be sure to bring an accepted form of payment when applying for your child’s passport.