Passports For Kids: Everything You Need to Know

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This summer we are taking the kids to France and I’m already getting that stressed-out feeling. Did I pack enough diapers? What if the local grocery store doesn’t carry snacks my kids will eat? Am I bringing enough toys??? Here’s what I’m not freaking out about: passports. TG. If you’re traveling abroad anytime soon (or even not-so-soon) I would seriously advise that you get that sh*t taken care of way in advance. A few years ago some friends nearly missed their vacation when they realized they’d forgotten to procure a passport for their newborn baby. Because here’s the thing: even if you don’t need to purchase an airplane ticket for your under-two, you still have to get him a passport for traveling abroad. Let that sink in.

Believe me, I am fully aware that the sound of getting a passport for a child is a nightmare full of fees and paperwork, but it’s got to be done if you want to explore the world (even if you plan to stay local, passports are a great form of photo ID for kids). My son was two months old when he took his first overseas flight, so I’m living proof that passports for babies can be done. And if I can do it, you definitely can. That’s what this list is for. Instead of freaking out and reading the entire internet trying to figure out what you’ll need to get your kid a passport, read this list. We’ve covered everything.

What: For children under 16, a minor passport is issued and is valid for five years.

Who: Both parents or legal guardians must provide photo identification in person when applying for the child’s passport. If a single parent is not listed as such on the child’s birth certificate, they must provide a divorce/custody/adoption decree, death certificate, or notarized consent form from the absent parent. Again, both parents and the minor must be present, with photo id, to apply for a passport.

Where: Apply at an official passport agency or authorized application acceptance facility, which often includes post offices, libraries, or municipal offices. Be sure to make an appointment first. Call the National Passport Information Center 24 hours a day at 1-877-487-2778 for more information.

When: Count on a minimum of six weeks to receive the passport, although it may take longer in summer. If you’re traveling internationally in less than two weeks, schedule an appointment at a passport agency (rather than an acceptance facility) and bring hard-copy proof of upcoming travel, as well as the additional $60 expedite fee in addition to all completed forms and required documentation.

How Much: The current cost for a passport book is $105 ($80 application fee + $25 acceptance fee). You can also opt to get a passport card which costs $40, so significantly less. At a passport agency, fees can be paid by credit or debit card, check (personal, certified, cashier’s, traveler’s) or money order made out to “U.S. Department of State”. Credit and Debit cards are not accepted if you apply at an application acceptance facility (like the library). Some fees can be paid in cash, but be sure to have exact change. Application fees and acceptance fees must be paid separately. Additional fees may apply at your local facility, so be sure to check ahead of time or go with additional cash or checks. There are also options for expedited service ($60) and overnight delivery ($15.45).

What You Need to Apply:

1.              A completed DS-11 form (do not sign in advance!)

2.              One 2”x2” passport photo (preferably looking at the camera, although not required) taken within the last six months

3.              Original or certified evidence of child’s U.S. citizenship (via a birth certificate or Consular Report of Birth Abroad), plus a photocopy

4.              Evidence of relationship between child and parent(s)/guardian(s) (via U.S. birth certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, foreign birth certificate, adoption decree, or divorce/custody decree)

5.              Parent or guardian identification and photocopy of identification

6.              Provide parental consent (both parents appear in person to apply, or certified consent from absent parent or proof of sole custody)

Okay, it’s a lot to remember, but the reason for much of the paperwork and parental proof is to reduce child abduction and trafficking, so, pretty important. Check this link for further info and don’t forget to apply for your child’s passport in person–that means both (if applicable) parents or legal guardians and your child. Then, once that sweet, sweet passport book arrives in the mail, let the globetrotting begin!

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