How long are passports good for minors?

Published by Travel Visa Pro on Wed Jun 13 2018

If you’re planning to get your children their first passports or want to keep an eye on when to renew an existing passport for a minor, it’s important to remember how long these passports are valid. Some travelers might assume when they get their child a passport book for the first time, after all the hassle, applications, waiting, and fees, that their documents would be good for international jaunts until they turn 18. Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that.


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How Long Does a Child’s Passport Last?

The good news is that children are allowed to travel internationally with their own passport book, even without a parent. The bad news is the application process is just as painful as anything else dealing with bureaucracy. While adult passport holders can look forward to bringing in less paperwork when it comes time to a renewal, parents of passport holders under 16 often have to bring in the same documentation that was required before their child could speak, let alone appreciate another country.

Technically, a child can be issued a passport immediately after being born provided both parents consent and have the necessary paperwork and photographs. Usually it’s a good idea to always have an “age progression” series of photos when renewing a document or even passing through immigration to prove the baby in the passport picture is now the same child, four years old, or the six year old is now a ten year old, etc. Passports for children under 16 years old only last five years, meaning your child can apply for three before being able to send in their own application as an adult.

What about for emergencies?

Do you need to fly in a hurry, and take your child with you? Assuming your travel emergency comes up while you’re in the US or its territories, the passport application process doesn’t get any easier. Both parents or guardians still need to make an appointment at the closest regional passport agency with their child or arrange to have a third party present the paperwork on their behalf. Even with an expedited $60 fee, the child’s passport will still be valid for five years.

Emergency passports issued abroad are another matter. If you happen to lose your child’s passport on a trip outside the US and need documentation to get her home, there are two options. If you have enough time in the country and there is a US consulate or embassy within easy access of your hotel, you can go through the process of applying for a new five-year passport, just as you would if your child had been born abroad and was living in the host country.

The second involves the US embassy or consulate issuing a limited validity passport good only for the duration of the trip. This is usually done to accommodate Americans who don’t have the time to wait for a passport application to be processed; their travel plans aren’t flexible, and they must leave the country by a certain date. Most of these passports are usually given a limit of two days, just enough time to book a flight home.

What about minors between 16-17 years old?

According to the law, minors are usually defined as anyone under the age of 18. In the eyes of the US government, when it comes to passports, anyone under 16 is a minor and receives a five-year passport. It should come as no surprise that a 15-year-old issued a five-year passport book can renew it herself at the age of 20 without parental consent for a new ten-year-book, but what about an 11-year-old who just turned 16 when his passport expired?

The good news is 16 and 17-year-olds do not have to bring both parents with them when it comes time to renew their passport, and they qualify for a ten-year book or card. However, the agent will request proof of “parental awareness”: both parents should sign a letter addressed to the US Department of State and provide a copy of their driver’s licenses or passports. They also have the option of appearing in person.


If you have any questions that are related to minors’ passports, you can always contact Travel Visa Pro!