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      How Long Is a Passport Valid for Minors and Children?

      Holly Riddle
      How Long Is a Passport Valid for Minors?

      If you plan on traveling with your children, they will need some documentation in order to fly. And, if you are flying internationally with your children, they’ll need passports.

      For U.S. passports, the government splits children into two groups. The government splits children into those children who are under 16, and minors who are ages 16 and 17. 

      (Sometimes, but not always, you’ll find that certain documentation refers to them this way. Those under 16 are “children.” Those ages 16 or 17 are “minors.” Again, this is not always the case, but we’ll use this terminology throughout the rest of this article).

      Different application processes apply to each group.

      For children under 16, passports are valid for five years only. For minors ages 16 or 17, passports are valid for 10 years.

      Further Reading: How to Apply for a Child or Minor’s Passport

      When to Renew a Child’s or Minor’s Passport

      Child with Passport Smiling

      Of course, the general rule of thumb for everyone is to renew a passport about nine months before it expires. Otherwise, if you wait longer, lengthy passport processing times may negatively impact your renewal. Attempt to time the renewal process so that the passport does not expire during this process.

      You can follow this same rule for timing the renewal of a minor’s — ages 16 or 17 — passport. (This rule will not apply to a child’s — ages 0 to 15 — passport.)

      Beyond planning to renew a minor’s passport about nine months before it expires, you can also plan to renew a minor’s passport in the event that all the pages are filled or if it’s been damaged.

      How to Renew a Child’s or Minor’s Passport

      Renewing children’s passports differs from renewing an adult passport in one key way: you can’t. 

      That’s right. Children who received their last passport when they were under the age of 16 cannot renew their passport at all. They must apply for a brand-new passport every single time that they need a new one. This process can be quite complicated and requires significant proof of approval by both parents.

      In contrast, minors who received their last passport after the age of 16 can renew their passport just like anyone else. It can be done via mail and with the same government forms an adult would use to renew their passport.

      The Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program

      Obtaining a new children’s passport every five years can be a bit of a chore and includes lots of paperwork and proof of approval on the part of both parents or guardians. However, there are still instances where a single parent or guardian may try to obtain a passport for their child without the consent of the other parent or guardian. The powers that be consider this an instance of international parental child abduction, and the U.S. government has created the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program to prevent this.

      When you enroll your child in the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program — which requires proof of identity, relationship to the child, and other documentation — the government will contact you in the event another parent or guardian applies for a passport on your child’s behalf.


      Does my child need a passport?

      If anyone in your family is traveling internationally, they need a passport, regardless of age.

      How long does it take to get a minor’s passport?

      Getting a passport typically takes several months. It is essential to plan ahead and apply for your family’s passports well in advance of your trip. In addition to processing times, it will also take time to put together the myriad of paperwork that’s necessary for obtaining a child’s passport.

      Can a minor get a passport without parental consent?

      No. Even minors aged 16 or 17 must prove parental consent and knowledge when applying for a passport. However, the government does not require minors to have a parent or guardian accompany them, in person, when applying for a passport.

      Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post. 

      Holly Riddle Headshot

      By Holly Riddle

      Holly Riddle is a freelance travel, food, and lifestyle journalist who also dabbles in ghostwriting and fiction. Her work appears in publications ranging from Global Traveler to Golf Magazine, Mashed to Forbes, and Bloomberg. When she’s not writing, you can find her exploring the mountains near her home in the Adirondacks. Her favorite travel destinations include Chicago and New Orleans.