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Getting Your Child a Passport

by Barbara Rogers

May 6, 2022

© Kritchanut | Dreamstime.com


The first thing you need to do before planning family travel outside the United States is to make sure all your children have passports.


The only exception is if you travel by land or water to those countries included in the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, an agreement that includes the United States, Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the countries of the Caribbean Region. For those destinations, a child aged 15 or under only needs a certified birth certificate.


The key word here is “certified” — that means it must have a raised, impressed seal, the registrar’s signature and date of filing. But remember, this is only the case if traveling by land. Air travel outside the United States requires a passport for everyone, even infants. Youth passports are issued to those 15 or younger and are valid for five years. Passports issued to those 16 or older are valid for 10 years.


You must apply for any child’s passport in person and with the child. If both parents can’t be present, you must have a signed and notarized statement of permission from the absent parent. If you have sole custody, you must provide a death certificate or court order as proof.


You also need proof of the parent(s) identity and proof of your relationship to the child (in the case of adopted children, you will need the adoption papers). Passport photos are required, even for babies, and they must meet all the adult requirements: eyes open, full face, etc.


Once you have all the required documentation and the completed child passport application, you need to make an appointment to appear in person at a passport acceptance agency. This may be at a nearby post office, clerk of court office or other government office designated to accept passport applications.


Begin this process well before your planned travel, as current wait times are two to three months. For an extra $60 fee you can request expedited service, which shortens that to five to seven weeks.


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