If your child will be traveling outside of the country, he or she will need a passport. This is true for kids of all ages, even infants. Passport applications must be made in person at an official passport acceptance facility. You should complete the application form and ensure you have the appropriate documents before going to a facility.
1. Complete Form DS-11 for Your Child
When preparing to apply for a passport for your kids, the first thing you should do is fill out Form DS-11. This form is required for all minors applying or reapplying for passports, as well as for adults who are applying for the first time. You should fill it out before submitting the application in person, but you should not sign it until an authorized agent asks you to do so. This form requires details about the child and their parents or legal guardian(s).
Details About the Child
You will need to gather the following details about the child for whom you are requesting a passport in order to fill out Form DS-11.
- Date of birth
- Social security number
- Place of birth
- Telephone number
- Email address
- Other names the child may have used
- Appearance (height, hair color, eye color)
- Travel plans
- Emergency contact information
- Whether the child has applied for or been issued a passport in the past
Details About the Child's Parents
You will also need to know the following details about the child's parent(s) and/or legal guardian(s) in order to complete the form.
- Name (including last name at birth)
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
- Citizenship status
2. Ensure You Have Evidence of the Child's Citizenship
You will have to provide evidence of U.S. citizenship in support of your child's application for a passport. Acceptable documents vary, based on whether the child was born within the U.S. or elsewhere. Regardless of what documentation you bring, it must be an original or certified copy.
Born Inside the U.S.
For children who were born in the United States, acceptable documents include.
- U.S. birth certificate (that meets specific requirements)
- Previously issued passport (it can be expired)
Born Outside the U.S.
For kids who are U.S. citizens, but were born outside the country, the following documentation can be used:
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA, Form FS-240)
- Certification of Report of Birth (DS-1350)
- Certificate of Citizenship issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- Naturalization certificate
A notarized copy is not sufficient; this is not the same as a certified copy. You will also need to submit a second copy of the document, which can be an additional certified copy or a photocopy.
3. Gather Appropriate Parental Documentation
Children cannot apply for a passport without the knowledge of their custodial parent(s) or legal guardian(s). The requirements vary based on whether the child is under or over 16 years of age. Once a teen reaches the age of 18, no parental involvement is required for passport issuance.
Kids Under 16
When applying for a passport for a child under 16, you must provide documentation that gives the names of the parents or legal guardians of the child, such as a birth certificate, adoption decree, divorce decree, or custody decree. Both parents must specifically consent for a passport to be issued for the child. If at all possible, both parents should accompany the child to apply for the passport. If that is not possible, acceptable documentation will have to be provided. Requirements vary based on the situation.
- Sole parental responsibility: The parent or legal guardian must submit proof that he or she has sole responsibility for the child. Examples of acceptable documents include a birth or adoption certificate that lists only you as the child's only parent, a death certificate for the second parent, or a divorce decree or court order specifying that you have sole legal custody of the child.
- One parent unable to appear: A parent who is not able to appear can fill out a Statement of Consent (Form DS-3053) and have it notarized. The original notarized document and a photocopy of that parent's valid ID must be submitted along with the application.
- Neither parent is able to appear: In situations where it is not possible for the child's parents to appear, both parents can provide a third party with a notarized Statement of Consent. In situations where the location of both parents is unknown, there is a Statement of Exigent/Special Family Circumstances (Form DS-5525) that can be submitted.
Teens Ages 16 or 17
Teenagers old enough to have their own identification, such as a driver's license or state-issued ID card, can apply for a passport on their own as long as they can demonstrate that at least one of their parents knows they are doing so. This can be done in one of two ways.
- In-person: One parent can accompany the teen when he or she applies for a passport in person.
- Signed statement: The teen can bring a notarized, signed statement from one of his or her parents or guardians indicating consent for the teen to be issued a passport. The teen must also provide a photocopy of that parent's identification. The photocopy must include the front and back of the document and cannot be enlarged. It must be printed on 8 1/2" X 11" paper.
4. Ensure Parents Have Proper Identification
When applying for a passport for a child, the parent(s) and/or legal guardian(s) will have to present proper identification. You will need to show the original document or certified (not notarized) copy and submit an exact photocopy with the application. The copy must be printed on 8 1/2" X 11" paper. The document can't be enlarged. The copy must include the front and back.
- Valid driver's license or other government-issued ID (if the ID is from a different state, additional identification is required)
- Valid U.S. passport (it's okay if it's expired as long as it is otherwise valid and not damaged)
- Certificate of Citizenship or Naturalization (assuming that the photo is recent enough to still look like the bearer)
- Valid U.S. Permanent Resident Card (also referred to as a Green Card; cannot be expired)
- Trusted Traveler IDs (such as Global Entry, FAST, NEXUS, and SENTRI cards)
- Military or military dependent ID (U.S. only)
- Government employee id (for federal, state or local government employees)
- Native American tribal photo ID or an Enhanced Tribal Card
- A valid foreign passport (cannot be expired)
- Mexican Consular Identification /Matricula Consular (this would be applicable for a Mexican citizen who is a parent of a child who is a U.S. citizen)
5. Get a Passport Photo for the Child
You must provide a 2" x 2" current photo of the child along with the application. While some passport acceptance facilities provide fee-based photo services, this is not true of all of them. If you are hoping to have a photo taken when you turn in your application, verify whether this service is available at the facility you plan to visit. The picture must follow specific passport photo requirements, including that no one else can be in the photo with the child and children must be photographed in front of a plain white background. It is preferred that children look directly at the camera for their passport photos.
6. Gather Your Passport Fee
You will need to pay a $35 execution/acceptance fee plus the cost of the child's passport at the time you submit the application. Fees vary based on the age of the child and requested passport style. The fee for 16- and 17-year olds is the same as for adults; it is lower for younger children.
|Kids Under 16||16 & 17 year olds|
|Passport Book + Card||$95||$140|
7. Apply In-Person for Your Child's Passport
Go to a passport acceptance facility with your child to submit his or her passport application. Some facilities require appointments.
- Check all requirements for your chosen passport acceptance facility ahead of time so you don't find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having to make more than one trip.
- Take all of your documents and your child's documents with you. Be prepared to sign the application while you are there, in the presence of an authorized representative.
Note: Parents don't have to accompany 16 and 17-year-olds who have their own government-issued photo ID and documented parental consent.
Validity Timeframe for Kids' Passports
Passport approval generally takes eight to 11 weeks, though delays are possible (especially during peak travel times). If you are in a hurry, you can pay an extra $60 for expedited processing, which generally takes five to seven weeks. Upon approval, initial passports for kids under 16 are valid for five years. Those issued for kids 16 and over are valid for the same ten-year timeframe as for adults.