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Steve Gempeler and Peter Gulas of Allied Passport & Visa are back with their expert knowledge of all things visa and passports. Today, they guide you through the process of applying for a child’s passport.
You may have heard the stories and, yes, sometimes they can be true, but acquiring a passport for your child really isn’t as daunting an experience as you’d expect, especially if parents are still married (or on good terms after a divorce) and can coordinate their schedules.
Passport applications for minors under the age of 16 must be submitted in person at a passport agency or facility. For the majority of Americans, you’ll be applying at your local United States Post Office that offers passport services.
Minor’s passports (still under 16 years old) are issued for only five years, as opposed to a normal ten-year passport for adults. This is the case for two reasons:
- A child’s appearance changes drastically from infancy to early teenage years. If a ten-year passport were issued to a minor at an early age their passport photograph would likely be unrecognizable.
- Parental relationships could change during the span of a minor’s childhood. In such cases, after the five-year passport term, reapplication of the minor’s passport would change his/her biometrics. Why is this important? Let’s say a parent died recently. The biometrics of the minor’s passport would allow the child to travel with only the one living parent and no further documentation would be needed for the child to travel internationally without both parents accompanying.
Matching Application Procedures and Documents – Children vs. Adults
Applying for a new passport for a child includes many of the same steps and documents needed as an adult. Note that a minor will need to reapply for a new passport until they reach 16 years of age. Adults can “renew” their passport which is a much less complicated process.
For obtaining your new passport, once you’ve made your appointment with a passport acceptor here’s what you’ll need to bring at any age:
- An unsigned (you’ll sign once witnessed by an agent) DS-11 State Department “Application for a U.S. Passport” which should be applied for online.
- Proof of US Citizenship. On of the following:
- Original US issued birth certificate.
- Consular report of birth abroad certificate.
- Original US naturalization document.
- Two passport photos.
- Your checkbook or cash for associated fees.
If you apply through a local USPS post office, they can process your application through the State Department and the State Department will ship your completed passport back to your indicated home address. Regular processing by this mode can take up to six to eight weeks and two to three weeks for “expedited” processing.
If you need your new passport more urgently, consider using a visa passport service with direct access to a US State Passport Facility. Visa passport service companies are often given passport slots by State and can accrue passport processing for their clients in as little as 24 hours. If time is of the essence and you don’t process through the USPS, make sure not to open the sealed envelope you are given at the end of your appointment, doing so will void the entire application.
Additional Application Procedures and Documents Needed for Children
Minors must be present when applying for their passport. Parents cannot apply via proxy.
The only real additional document parents (if the couple is attending the appointment together) need to supply for their child’s application is proof they are actually the parental guardians. This evidence can include the following:
- Minors proof of US Citizenship (same as #2 above) showing BOTH parents’ names.
- Adoption Decree with adopting parents’ names.
- Court Order papers establishing custody or guardianship showing parents’ names.
Parents will need to show the agent identification (a passport ideally) and sign a section of the child’s application.
If only one parent can attend the appointment, another form is required. A DS-3053, which must be notarized and completed by the parent that cannot attend and be included with the child’s documents during the appointment.
Although the procedures and requirements (making a checklist is advisable) to obtain your child’s passport may seem stressful and tedious, if you take the time to read and plan accordingly before attending your appointment the transaction will likely run seamlessly.
- For passports, the US Department of State considers a minor less than 16 years of age.
- Minor’s passports cannot be renewed. Parents will need to follow the same procedure every time their child’s passport expires.
- Minor’s can have additional pages added to their 5 year passport.
- A minor can apply for a 2nd passport. The process is no different from an adult.
- Once adults have obtained their first US Passport through an authorized agent they can simply renew their passport once expired. Adults do not have to apply for a renewal in person. Here are the requirements.
For more information on obtaining USA Passports, international travel visas and receiving a special $5 TPG discount on your order please visit Allied Passport & Visa. Do you have any questions? Ask away in the comments section below.
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