Things to Know About Getting a Passport for a Minor

We are gearing up for our international trips this fall and in between pouring over our travel books we are also working on getting all our travel documents in line to go. And the one point that has been a hassle for us in this planning is that my daughter’s passport expired in March and she needs a new one before our adventures. If you thought getting an adult passport was a pain, it’s nothing to the process of getting a child’s passport. The whole thing will leave you wondering just how many hoops there are to go through . It’s a hassle but definitely worth it to share in traveling with kids. Here are the steps for getting a child passport and some things to know. (this is based on getting a US passport, for more information you can go HERE).

Step 1- The Application:

While adult passports are valid for 10 years, passports for anyone under 17 are only valid for 5 years. You cannot simply renew a child’s passport you have apply for a new one.

You will need form DS-11. Be sure to answer the questions as the child being the applicant.

When it asks for your address, include ‘In Care Of’ with parent’s name on the second line of the address

You must either provide the child’s social security number or a signed document stating ‘I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the following is true and correct: (child’s full name) has never been issued a social security number by the social security administration.”

Do not sign the passport application. You will be asked by the processing agent to do this in their presence.

There is a list of countries on the Department of State website that if you plan to take a minor there, then you will also need a certified letter from the US Embassy or Consulate giving approval of the minor traveling there. Be sure to check the list before any travel plans are made.

Step 2- Provide Evidence of US Citizenship:

You must provide one citizenship document for the child and it must be the original or a certified copy of the original. No digital documents are accepted.

Citizenship documents include previous passport (can be expired), US birth certificate, Consular report of birth abroad or certification of birth, or certificate of citizenship.

Step 3- Present Parent Identification:

Parents or guardians must present one identification document with their child’s application.

Identification document can be a valid or expired passport, in state drivers license, certificate of naturalization, certificate of citizenship, government employee ID, military ID or military dependent ID, US permanent resident card. Along with proving identity you must also show the relationship between parent and child.

Step 4- Show Parental Relationship:

You must submit documentation that lists the parents or legal guardians of the child. You must provide originals or certified copies of the original.

Relationship documents can be birth certificate, adoption decree, or divorce/custody decree.

Step 5- Show Parental Consent:

This is the step that can get a little tricky and may require more documentation. Ideally, both parents would be physically present for the passport application but because that is not always possible here are some examples of situations and the added documentation that you will need:

  • one parent has sole legal authority– examples of documents you would need include a court order granting sole legal custody of the child such a divorce decree or other custody decree, court order specifically permitting you to apply for your child’s passport, certified copy of birth certificate listing you as the only parent, certified adoption decree listing you as the only parent, certified judicial declaration of incompetence of the parent that cannot appear in person, certified death certificate of the deceased parent.
  • one parent unable to appear– the parent who is unable to appear can complete the DS-3053 Statement of Consent form, this form must be signed and notarized
  • you cannot locate the other parent– in this instance the accompanying parent would need to complete the DS-5525 Statement of Exigent/Special Family Circumstances form, including as much detail as possible and any additional documentation that you can provide to show the inability to locate the other parent
  • neither parent able to appear– a third party may apply for the child’s passport with a DS-3.53 Statement of Consent form or a notarized statement from both parents giving the third party permission to apply for the passport. The statement must also have a photocopy of the parent/guardians identification. The statement and copy of identification must be less than 3 months old.

Step 6- Provide a Photo:

Provide a photo of the child but do not attach the photo to the application. Photos can be taken before or at the passport service. If you have the picture taken at the passport service office there will be a small fee.

Step 7- Pay the Fee & Mail the Application:

At time of writing, the cost for a new passport is $135 including the cost of the passport and the execution fee. The passport fee of $100 needs to be in a check or money order made out to ‘U.S. Department of State’. If you want to expedite the service then there is an additional $60 fee. And if you would like the passport shipped to you by priority mail then there is a $18.32 fee. The passport fee, the expedited fee, and the priority mailing fee can all be included on the check of money order. The $35 execution fee will be paid to the service provider by either check or card.

Right now there is a backlog of passport applications so even expedited you will be looking at about 6 weeks to get your passport.

Because you and the child have to be physically present, you can’t mail your application by yourself but it must go through a passport service. But they will go over the documents and get it in the mail for you so you don’t need to worry about it. Now you get to anxiously await the arrival of the new passport.

Getting a child’s passport is definitely more of a process than it is for an adult passport. But all of these procedures act as guards against unlawful transportation of a minor. With that in mind, I try to keep my grumblings about the process to a minimum and always be kind to the passport service agent that is looking over things. (If you found this helpful, then you may also want to check out my suggestions on flying with an infant or toddler for a smoother experience. )

29 responses to “Things to Know About Getting a Passport for a Minor”

  1. I think it’s definitely got harder due to the kidnapping of children from one parent to another! They are taking up to six weeks for children’s passports here
    Good luck

  2. Depressing reading. This stuff just seems to be getting harder and harder and of course more expensive and time consuming. At times it feels as if they deliberately try to make it as inconvenient as possible. But as you say, it will all be worth it in the end. A friend of mine (adult) is trying to renew her UK passport and the waiting time is so ridiculously long throughout England, Scotland and Wales she has to fly to Belfast in Northern Island (!!?!?) if she wants it to be done this year.

    • That is crazy! Thank goodness she can go somewhere else to get it done, but still want a pain. I think a lot of it is with the end of Covid now people are back to traveling, but it seems like the waiting times are just outrageous. We’ve been back to the passport office three times bringing more and more documentation with every trip. We have our fingers crossed for trip number 4 on Monday that it will all go through this time.

  3. I got a passport for my daughter when she was in elementary school, over 20 years ago, and the process has definitely become much more difficult since then. Good luck! It will be worth it in the end.

  4. I had no idea how much work was involved to get a passport for a child! Best of luck with everything. Getting a passport in Canada these days has been a nightmare. I’ve been hearing on the news about how some people have had to sleep overnight outside the passport office to ensure that they get a spot in line the next day. It’s insane.

    • oh that’s crazy that they have to sleep out just to get in line! Hopefully they had all the documents they needed so they didn’t have to go back. We’ve been back to the passport office 3 times, we’re hoping that trip number 4 is the lucky one.

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