Getting ready to take a family vacation but realized your child doesn’t have a passport? Don’t worry – applying for a passport for a child is actually much easier than you might think! Today, I’ll be breaking down step-by-step on how to apply for a passport for your child so this process can go smoothly!
Requirement for Child Passport
The passport application process may be complicated, but it is quite simple if you are prepared. Before I begin, there are a few things you should be aware of:
- For these purposes, the US Department of State considers a minor to be a child under 16.
- To apply for a passport, both parents must be present in person, along with the child.
- If you are a single parent, the other parent must complete a separate consent form.
- There are no additional requirements if the other parent is not listed on the birth certificate.
Let’s jump right into it!
Step 1 – Take a Passport Photo
You will need a 2 “x2” passport photo to apply for a child’s passport.
I personally cut out the headache and have my passport photos taken at my local Costco. They are super affordable ($5 last time I checked and you get them the same day). The passport office can be REALLY picky and will deny your application just based on submitting a photo that is incorrect.
If however you just really want to do it on your own, follow these steps:
- The face should be centered in the frame, and there should be about one inch of space around the head.
- The background should be white or a very light yellow (Off-White).
- Your child’s eyes should be open, and they should not be wearing any glasses, hats, or other accessories – unless they appear on their birth certificate.
- There must also be a “neutral facial expression” – smiling is okay as long as the lips are closed!
- The photo must be a color photograph that is “passport quality”, – which means it meets all of the requirements listed above.
- Finally, make sure that you have given explicit consent for the photo to be used in a passport application before leaving the studio!
Step 2 – Get the Required files & Fees.
Now that you have a decent passport photo, it’s time to gather the other documents you will need for your child’s application.
- A certified birth certificate (Original)
- Your child’s Social Security Number (SSN)
- Front AND back copy of both parent’s State Issued ID
- Proof of US Citizenship (i.e. a previous US Passport)
- Passport Fee of $80 (fees are higher if you are expediting)
- Agent Acceptance Fee of $35
Note: It should be noted that the passport fee and acceptance fee are paid separately, and at some acceptance facilities, only checks or money orders are accepted. All forms of payment are accepted at the passport agency; if paying in cash, the exact amount is required.
Step 3: Complete Form DS11
Now that you have your forms and fees together, it’s time to complete the passport application form for minors called the “DS11 form.”
However, we highly recommend filling out the form ahead of time so you can ensure all of your information is accurate and correct!
As always, there are some special requirements:
- Your full name must be written exactly as it appears on your child’s birth certificate.
- Your child’s full name must exactly match the full name on their birth certificate – even if you have given them a nickname, every form of it must be included!
- If your child has a hyphenated last name, make sure to include all parts of the hyphenated name.
- If the name has been legally changed at any point in their life, it must be indicated.
Print the DS11 form here.
Step 4: Determine If you Have An Exception.
Both parents must sign the DS11 form and appear in person with their child to apply for a passport. If both parents are unable to attend, you will be required to provide additional documentation based on your circumstances.
On the birth certificate, Only One Parent Is Listed.
You should be fine if you are the only parent listed on the birth certificate. There will be no need for any additional documentation. The birth certificate will show that you are the sole person responsible for the child(ren) and have parental rights.
You Have Sole Responsibility.
If you have sole custody of your child(ren), you must include one of the following documents with your application:
- A custody order has granted you sole legal custody of the minor(s).
- Court order authorizing the minor(s) to apply for a passport without the consent of the other parent
- A certified copy of the adoption decree naming you as the minor’s sole parent/legal guardian (s)
The Other Parent is Impossible To Appear
Perhaps your husband is away on business, or you are a single parent with a child who lives out of state. If the other parent cannot appear in person for any reason (and neither of the above exceptions applies to you), the other parent must sign a form granting permission to apply for the passport.
Form DS3053 must be filled out.
It is critical to note:
- The form SHOULD BE NOTARIZED.
- You MUST include a copy of the other parent’s ID, both front and back.
The other parent is lost.
If you cannot locate the other parent, you must fill out a form outlining your emergency family circumstances.
Form DS5525 can be used.
The Other Parent Has Died
If the other parent is deceased, you must include a copy of the death certificate with your application.
Step 5: Visit a Passport Acceptance Facility
Once you have your completed forms and fees, schedule an appointment at the nearest US passport processing facility.
Bring all required documents to the agency, and they will review your application. Your child’s passport should be processed in a few weeks if everything looks good.
You can also schedule your appointment online using the Passport Application Wizard found on the US Department of State website.
Step 6: Receive Your Child’s Passport!
Once you have applied, it will take anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks, so we recommend applying before you need it.
When the passport facility receives it, you’ll receive mail information letting you know when the passport will arrive or has arrived. Once it arrives, you can receive the passport by contacting the passport facility, where they will set an appointment for you to come to pick it up.
Congratulations! You’ve just successfully applied for a passport for your child!
Passport application for a child is a complicated process, but understanding the necessary steps is crucial to gaining an expedited passport. As long as you have all of your forms filled out completely and correctly, it will be easier for you to get through the application process.
Let’s hope these steps that, honestly, helped me when I got my daughters passport helped save you some time and headaches from the stress of getting these passports for your children!