Whether you’re six years old or sixty, few things in life are more exciting than receiving your first passport. For a parent, getting your child’s first passport is a relatively pain-free process, as long as you’re prepared well in advance.
Regardless of age, all children traveling abroad must have a passport when flying to another country. However, a child doesn’t need a passport if he or she is under 16 and traveling to Canada by land or sea. In that event, it is permissible for he or she to present an original or copy of a birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or a Naturalization Certificate. If the child is on a school trip and under 19 the same documents are acceptable.
All other travel requires getting your child a passport and the requirements are different if your child is under 16 or between 16 and 17. The following information is based on minors under age 16.
First, complete Form DS-11: Application for a U.S. Passport, but don’t sign it until instructed. Apply for the child’s passport in person and be certain the minor and both parents or guardians are present.
In addition to a valid passport photo, be sure to have evidence of the child’s citizenship. That could be any of the aforementioned documents or a combination of a birth record or Letter of No Record and public records. Those can be early school records, Census records, doctor’s records of post-natal care, hospital birth certificates or Baptismal certificates.
Next, both parents must be able to prove their relationships to their child and present a valid form of government ID. That can be done via adoption decrees, custody records, or birth documents. If any of the three has changed their names, those court documents must be submitted as well.
Copies of all the parents’ documents and the child’s passport application must be provided. If you’re applying for more than one child, don’t worry, you only need to provide one set of guardian copies.
Lastly, parents must consent to the passport. That can be as simple as both parents signing the child’s DS-11 form, but things can get tricky with here pending on a family’s circumstances. So the best thing to do is check with child’s passport issuing agency to see what is required.
At $80 plus a $25 execution fee, children’s passports are slightly cheaper than adult passports.