Are you preparing for international travel with the whole family? If so, your kids will need passports. Not sure where to start? No worries. We’ve got you covered when it comes to everything you need to know about getting a passport for kids.
First Child Passport
Give yourself ample time to collect and submit the right documents for each child passport application. Remember, too, that regulations vary for first-time passport applicants versus renewals.
The documents you’ll need for a new passport application include:
- two suitable passport photos
- proof of citizenship (e.g. birth certificate, consular report of birth abroad, naturalization certificate, certificate of citizenship)
- evidence of parental relationship (e.g. birth certificate, consular report of birth abroad, naturalization certificate, certificate of citizenship, foreign birth certificate, adoption decree with adopting parents’ names, court order establishing custody or guardianship)
- parental consent in the form of a DS-3503 (if only one parent is present during the application process)
- a completed DS-11 form
- the appropriate passport fee
Let’s delve into some of the specifics when it comes to the items listed above. That way, your first visit to the passport office will also be your last. (Well, until renewal time rolls around.)
Exceptions to the Rule
The government requires both parents or guardians to accompany their children during the application process. You can appear at your local passport agency, affiliated government office, or post office.
But what about circumstances where both parents/guardians can’t attend such as a long-distance separation or divorce? In such cases, an exception may apply, especially for parents who hold sole physical custody of their children.
This parent can report with their child and a notarized DS-3053 form completed by the other parent/guardian. The DS-3053 form allows the absent parent to agree to the passport application in absentia. If a parent is deceased, then you’ll need to present a copy of their death certificate.
If you can’t get the documentation outlined above, submit a DS-3053 form explaining why you couldn’t secure consent. If you have court documentation permitting you to travel with the child, you should present this information, too.
Getting a Passport for a Minor
Upon completion of this first step, you’ll submit the DS-11 form, which contains information that’ll appear on your child’s passport. During your appointment, the passport clerk will go over your forms and necessary documents to ensure you have everything you need to successfully complete your kid’s passport application.
Then, they’ll either take a photo of your child or ask for two copies from a pre-approved source such as CVS or Walmart. This photo should measure 2×2 inches, and your child’s face should measure 1 and 3/8 inches from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin.
After you’ve completed and submitted the required forms, documents, and photos, you’ll pay an $80 application fee (for minors under the age of 18). If you choose to pay by check, remember that you need to submit one check per child. Note that the facility where you apply may charge processing fees above and beyond the $80. Expedited passports cost more, for example.
When to Apply and Renew
While it usually takes between two and three weeks to receive your passport, we recommend applying at least six weeks in advance to avoid travel delays. When it comes to a kid’s passport renewal, you can’t use an online application. You’ll need to renew in person.
Children must reapply for passports every five years until the age of 16. Then, passports stay good for ten years. Every time you renew your children’s passports, you’ll need to appear in person until they reach the age of 16 and can apply via mail.
While the five-year limit might seem inconvenient, it accounts for how fast kids mature and change appearance-wise. So, you’ll never need to get a new passport for your kids due simply to aging and growth.
A Couple of FAQs
What happens if your passport for kids arrives with incorrect information? Fortunately, the government won’t charge you a thing to fix it. But you’ll need to fill out and mail a DS-5504 form along with the incorrect passport.
What if you and your kids travel extensively and fear running out of pages to stamp? If you’re within four pages of the end, fill out DS-4085 form and send it in with your minor’s stamped passport to get more pages. You’ll pay a fee but will avoid the hassle of a maxed-out book.
Passport for Kids
What do you do once you’ve secured your passports? Well, that’s when the fun really begins! But don’t take our word for it… Instead, head out on a family adventure.
At Our Whole Village, we create tours carefully designed for curious families who want to create lasting memories while making a difference. We’re here to help you and your family experience the world, its peoples, and its cultures. Contact us today to learn more about the unforgettable experiences that we handcraft for families just like yours.