How to Apply for a Child or Minor’s Passport
If you’re traveling with a child, you’ll need specific identification and documents for your child, just like you need ID and documentation for yourself. More specifically, if you’re flying internationally, your children and all minors in your party will need passports.
Unfortunately, getting a passport for a child isn’t as easy as getting a passport for an adult. Here’s what you need to know.
Table of Contents
Applying for a Passport for a Child or Minor Under 16
If you’re helping your child or another minor in your care apply for a passport, and that child is under the age of 16, they’ll have to apply for their passport in person. You will need to find a Passport Acceptance Facility near you. There, the facility will pass along your application for passport processing. Before going to the facility you will need to collect documentation and fill out forms. The requirements are slightly different depending on who will take the child to the passport facility.
Two Parents or Guardians Present
Both parents must consent for a child’s passport to be issued. The State Department states the best way for a child to receive a passport is for both parents to go with the child in person. Here is a list of what you will need.
- Two parents or guardians present.
- DS-11 form (The form must be printed and brought to the passport acceptance facility, where you’ll later sign it.)
- Proof of the child’s U.S. citizenship. (This proof can include a previous passport, birth certificate, certificate of citizenship, or consular report of birth abroad. Whatever proof you bring, it must be the original, certified copy, plus the photocopy.)
- Photocopy of the proof of the child’s U.S. citizenship.
- Documentation proving the parental relationship. (You can provide this via a birth certificate, adoption decree, or custody decree, alongside parents’/guardians’ IDs, with a photocopy of the IDs.)
- Parent or Guardian IDs (ID Requirements)
- Photocopy of Parent or Guardian IDs
- Passport Photo (Take a Passport Photo at Home or buy a professional photo at a nearby retailer.)
One Parent with Sole Legal Authority
Any parent with sole legal authority will need all of the above for two parents or guardians present. Plus, you will need to submit proof of sole legal authority. Examples of sole legal authority proof include:
- Complete court order granting sole legal authority such as divorce decree or other custody order.
- Complete court order specifically permitting you to apply for your child’s passport.
- Certified copy of the child’s birth certificate or adoption decree listing you as the only parent.
- Certified copy of the judicial declaration of incompetence of the parent that cannot appear in person.
- Certified copy of the death certificate of the parent that cannot appear in person.
Only One Parent or Guardian Present, Other Unable to Appear
Any parent or guardian bringing a child by themselves needs all of the above for two parents or guardians present. Additionally, if only one guardian or parent can be present, then the other parent or guardian must supply a government form DS-3053, or a statement of consent, at the time of application. You must also supply a photocopy of the absent guardian or parent’s ID.
Only One Parent or Guardian Present, Cannot Locate the Other Parent
Any parent or guardian bringing a child by themselves and cannot locate the other parent will still need all of the above for two parents or guardians present. Additionally, you will need to fill out form DS-5525 which is for exigent and special family circumstances. This is necessary since the parent who is unable to be located will not be able to fill out form DS-3053. Lastly, you will be asked for additional evidence such as a custody order, restraining order, or incarceration order.
Neither Parent Can Appear
A third party may apply for a child’s passport. The third-party will need all of the above for two parents or guardians present. Additionally, they will need to fill out form DS-3053 or obtain a notarized statement from both parents or guardians giving the third-party permission to apply for the child. Do not forget to acquire photocopies of the parent’s or guardians’ IDs. If the notarized statement is from one parent or guardian proof of sole custody of the consenting parent or guardian must be provided.
Applying for a Passport for a Child or Minor Aged 16 or 17
But what if your child is 16 or 17? The process will be similar but just slightly different.
The child will still need to fill out the form DS-11 and provide proof of U.S. citizenship, along with a photocopy of that proof. However, if they already have their own ID, such as a driver’s license, they don’t need to bring their parents with them to the passport acceptance facility, and they don’t need to prove the parental relationship. There’s also no need to get both parents or guardians involved (or prove that a second parent or guardian is not available).
Instead, minors ages 16 and 17 can simply prove parental awareness. Here are examples of proof that shows parental awareness.
- Signed note of awareness from the parent or guardian and a photocopy of their ID
- Proof that the parent or guardian is paying the passport application fee, like via a signed check
- Notarized statement from the parent or guardian, along with a photocopy of their ID
The minor will also need to bring a photocopy of their own ID and their passport photo.
Further Reading: How Long Is a Passport Valid for Minors and Children?
You cannot renew a passport for a child under age 16. While a minor aged 16 or 17 could technically renew their passport, they can only renew passports issued after the age of 16.
Passports obtained after a child is 16 or 17 are valid for 10 years. Passports obtained for children younger than 16 are only valid for 5 years.
You do not need to update a child’s passport to an adult passport once the child turns 18. However, once the passport expires, they may need to re-apply for their next passport, if they obtained their prior passport before the age of 16. If their last passport was obtained at age 16 or 17, they can renew their passport via mail.
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.
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