The everything guide to the US Passport application process

Child Passport Guide

When applying for a child passport you will need to have a lot of patience. The guidelines for minor passports are very specific and you must have all the documentation required to avoid suspensions or delays. Keep in mind that these requirements were put in place for safety of all children however daunting it may seem.

For information about getting a passport for an adopted child, see: Passports for Adopted Children

Child Passport Application Overview

Child Passport Forms

DS-11 passport form
DS-11 Application

The first thing you need to do is fill out a DS-11 application. Although you can acquire this form at the post office and fill it out by pen, the preferred method is to fill it out at the Passport Office website online. This causes less errors, less risk of someone not being able to read your handwriting, and reduces the chance of a suspension. If you do fill it out by hand make sure it is done in black ink and that the writing is clearly legible.

Read our tips on filling out a DS-11 for a minor.

Items Needed for a Child Passport

You will need to bring all the following documentation with you to the Acceptance Clerk. Please keep in mind that if you are applying for multiple minors at one time, you must include a photocopy of each parent or guardians ID document presented with each minor’s individual passport application.

  • Proof of Citizenship – State issued Birth Certificate or certified copy. Certificate of Citizenship or Naturalization papers. All these Documents must be originals and will be returned with your New Passport.
  • Proof of Identification – Back and front copy of both parents state issued ID, driver’s license or passport.
  • Proof of relationship to minor – Generally this will be the original Birth Certificate. However there are times where other forms are acceptable.
  • Government Fee – Money order or check (not starter checks) for the total that is specified on the product service and fee page of your DS-11. Amount varies depending on which products you order as well as what service time you need.  The check should be made out to the US Department of State. Do NOT abbreviate this as it will cause delays in your service.
  • Passport Photo – 1 passport photo. Must be 2×2 with white background.
  • DS11 Application – Completed application printed and unsigned.

DS3053 form – if one parent cannot be present at the acceptance clerk, this the the form they can fill out and have notarized authorizing the passport. One original notarized form per child passport application. Please see “Proof of parental consent for a child passport” for more details

Once you have all your documentation together you are all ready to head to the Acceptance Clerk or local passport office. The Acceptance Agent will be the person that checks to make sure you have all the proper documents, goes over DS-11 application for completeness and then verifies your ID. They will then ask you to take an oath and sign your application. All the documents will be sealed in an envelope. From there they will either mail it out or if you are using an expediting company you will take it with you.

All Minors Age 16 and 17 Must:

  • Appear in person at the time of application
  • Have one parent or guardian present photo identification if the minor does not have identification of his or her own
  • Provide a photocopy of the same ID document that will be presented at the time of application (applicant or parent/guardian).
  • Establish parental consent by one parent

Proof of parental consent for a child passport

For all minors under the age of 16 both parents must give consent for a passport to be issued to the child. There are a few ways to comply with this regulation:

Parental Abduction & Minor Child Passports
Do not attempt to circumvent the other parent without the proper authentic legal documentation. It is quite common for extra security checks to be done on single-parent applications for a passport due to the risk of a one parent having dual citizenship with another country. Do not attempt to use a DS-5525 to circumvent the need for both parent consent, doing so is a federal crime and would-be parental abductors are quite frequently prosecuted.
  • Both Parents appear in person with the minor in front of the Acceptance Clerk when signing and submitting the passport application.
  • One Parent appears in person with the minor in front of the Acceptance Clerk with a notarized parental consent DS-3053 Form from non-applying parent.
  • One parent with sole custody Appear in person with the minor in front of an Acceptance Agent and Submit primary evidence of sole authority to apply for the child with one of the following:
    • Minor’s certified U.S. or foreign birth certificate listing only the applying parent
    • Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) or Certification of Birth Abroad (Form DS-1350) listing only the applying parent or (Form FS-545) – Certification of Birth issued by the Department of State.
    • Court order granting sole custody to the applying parent (unless child’s travel is restricted by that order)
    • Adoption decree (if applying parents is sole adopting parent)
    • Court order specifically permitting applying parent’s or guardian’s travel with the child
    • Judicial declaration of incompetence of non-applying parent
    • Death certificate of non-applying parent

NOTE: If none of the above documentation is available, the applying parent must submit Form DS-5525 stating why the non-applying parent/guardian’s consent cannot be obtained

*A third Party Can submit a notarized statement or affidavit from both parents or guardians authorizing a third-party to apply for a passport or if a statement of affidavit is from only one parent/guardian, the third-party must present evidence of sole custody of the authorizing parent/guardian.

Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program
The Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP) is one of the Department of States most important tools for preventing international parental child abduction. The program allows parents to register their U.S. citizen children under the age of 18 in the Department’s Passport Lookout System. If a passport application is submitted for a child who is registered in CPIAP, the Department contacts and alerts the parent or parents.

Frequently Asked Questions about Child Passports

Can a child passport be renewed by mail?

No. Minor passports are not renewed. You will have to reapply as a new applicant every 5 years.

Do applications for minors under 16 require the consent of both parents?

Effective February 1, 2008, Public Law 106-113, Section 236 requires that U.S. passport applications for children under the age of 16 require both parents’ or legal guardians’ consent. Read additional information on the Two-Parent Consent Requirement.

Does a child need a passport to travel to Canada?

If they are under 16 years old and NOT traveling by air, then no. Also see: When does a child need a passport

How do I get a passport for a minor?

For each minor you must submit a completed, unsigned DS-11 application form, proof of citizenship, proof of identity, and passport photos. However for a minor the parents must appear with the child or provide a consent form and submit evidence of relationship to the child.

How do I get information about my child’s passport or prevent a passport from being issued?

Parents involved in international custody disputes may receive information about the United States passport of a minor from the Department of State, Passport Services.

For passport assistance for parents and information on International Child Abduction see Passport Assistance – International Child Abduction (DS-3077).

How does my child sign their passport if they are too young?

In the space provided for the signature, the mother or father must print the child’s name and sign their own name. Then, in parenthesis by the parent’s name, write the word (mother) or (father) so they know who signed for the child.

What is the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP)

Separate from the Two-Parent Consent requirement for U.S. passport issuance for minors under the age of 14, parents may also request that their children’s names be entered in the U.S. passport name-check system. The Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program provides:

-Notification to parents of passport applications made on behalf of minor children, and
-Denial of passport issuance if appropriate court orders are on file with CPIAP.

Can I get a passport for my child without the other parent knowing about it?

Without having sole custody paperwork or court documentation stating the other parent had no parental rights it would be impossible do it legally. You could lie on a federal application (highly illegal so don’t do it) and get a notary to fraudulently stamp a DS-5503 (also criminal on their part).

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