Obtaining passports for children is much the same as getting any first time passport - with a few exceptions.
All children, including infants and newborns, are required to have their own individual passport.
When applying for passports for children you need to supply specific support documentation, as well as legal proof of parentage or guard-ianship. The extra steps required will insure your child is safe when traveling outside the U.S.
All children, including minors aged 16-17, must appear in person, when applying for a passport.
Minors aged 16 and 17 can apply on their own, but they must have proof of parental consent.
Passports for children, who are age 15 or younger, are actually applied for by their parents.
With passport requirements for children that went into effect in mid-2009, some minors and children may continue to travel by land or sea in the Western Hemisphere only, without a passport.
This is known as affinity travel and is restricted to being part of a specific group traveling together, such as ball teams, student groups, or similar.
You can find information about this kind of travel at the WHTI website, getyouhome.gov, which is sponsored by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Aside from this and other narrow exclusions, all air travel out of and back into the U. S. requires each person tra-veling to have a valid U.S. passport.
If you're age 16 or 17 and meet the requirements for ap-pearing in person with your parents' consent, and if you have the correct identification, photo, fees, proof of U.S. citizenship, and completed DS-11 application form, you can obtain a passport on your own.
If you don't have some form of government-issued ID that includes a photo, such as a drivers license, military ID, or similar, your parents [or guardians] must accom-pany you to present their photo ID on your behalf.
A photocopy of the front and back of your identification, or your parents, will be submitted as part of the passport application process.
Follow the steps outlined here to complete your child passport application, or use the directions on the DS-11 U.S. passport application form.
Getting passports for children 15 years of age and younger includes additional requirements and procedures that must be met in order for their U.S. passport application form to be accepted.
In general, both parents or guardians should accompany the child during the passport application process.
They must provide proof of their own personal identity with an inclusive photo.
Each must provide signed consent for their child to obtain a U.S. passport.
If only one parent can accompany the child for the application process, the absent parent must complete and submit a notarized form, DS-3053, giving consent for the accompanying parent to obtain the child’s passport.
You can find this form on the DOS website. It must be completely and truthfully filled out in black ink and submitted with the child passport application.
Passports for children can, of course, be obtained by single parents. This is called solo authority.
A single parent or legal guardian must provide documentation that they are the 'sole authority' to give permission for the child passport application, and for the child to travel outside the United States.
This is done with an Adoption Decree, a court ordered Cus-tody Agreement, a Death Certificate for a deceased parent, or other form of judicial record that proves they are the sole responsible party.
When both parents or guardians accompany the child for the passport application process, they must each show proof of relationship to their child.
This is generally done with the child’s Birth Certificate, either U.S. or foreign, which includes the names of the parents.
In the case of an adoption or guardianship, there must be legal documentation showing both parents' names and prov-ing parentage or guardianship.
As with any first time passport, getting a U.S. passport for a child is done in person. You need to locate a passport acceptance facility, such as a Post Office with authorized personnel, to execute the child passport application.
Refer here to find a passport acceptance facility near where you work or live. Any facility that accepts adult U.S. passport applications will also execute [administer the oath] for a child passport application.
Follow the procedure for swearing in, certifying that all questions on your child's passport application are answered fully and truthfully.
For children age 15 and under, both parents – if accompanying - are required to sign the U.S. passport application form.
Minors aged 16 and 17 can sign for themselves.
Passports for children follow the same processing procedures as other passport applications, once submitted into the system. You can check passport status of your child's application on the DOS website.
It's best to allow a few months for the passport application process, especially during peak travel season, or for older children, around the time for Spring Break and other major school holiday periods.
If time is short, you might consider a passport expediting service, but this will incur additional costs as their service can be quite expensive, especially when close to time of travel.
When you receive your child’s passport, if your son or daughter is old enough to write legibly, he/she can sign the passport themselves, with their name exactly as it appears on the photo page.
If your child is too young to sign, the Department of State suggests the parent print the name of the child on the Signature line.
Then place your own signature above the child’s printed name, noting the relationship in parenthesis. For example:
The requirements for getting passports for children are not difficult. The extra steps and support documents are important security measures to protect your child when they're overseas.
They help insure your child is safe when traveling, and that parental rights – for either parent - are not violated.
See these additional articles for current, updated information on passport application procedures:
Using A Passport Expediting Service
Return To Understanding Passports And Visas
Adult passports and those issued to minors age 16 and 17 are valid for ten years. Passports for children age 15 and under have a maximum validity of five years. Make a mental note of the year your child's passport will expire.
Remember: a child passport cannot be renewed. If it has six months or less validity, the child will not be allowed to travel.
Apply for a new child passport at least 4 months before you're due to travel. This will save you time and money by not having to deal with it at travel time.
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