How to Get a Passport For Your Baby or Child

Family in airport

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After years of pandemic-related restrictions, travel is on the rise once more. If you’re planning an international trip with your family, everyone needs a passport—including kids and babies.

Unlike domestic air travel, where children under 18 do not need any form of I.D. when accompanied by an adult, when you are traveling abroad, it’s a different story. “Any person, regardless of age, needs a valid passport to travel internationally,” says Sarah Huff, senior manager of customer & community and product expert at baby gear rental site BabyQuip.

Whether you’re going on a vacation or visiting family abroad, here's what you need to know about getting a passport for your child.

When to Get Your Child a Passport

Ideally, you should get your child a passport before an important international trip is planned. That will minimize the stress and rush associated with this task. In general, wait times for a passport are eight to 11 weeks from the day your application is received at the passport agency—not necessarily the day you apply.

“I recommend getting children's passports as far in advance of your travel date as possible,” says Julie Sayer, a cruise & vacation consultant at Expedia Cruises in Florida.

Furthermore, in-person appointments, which are required for children under 16, need to be made in advance, and can sometimes be booked two or three weeks out. When all is said and done, it could take three to four months to receive a passport for your child.

If you have a trip planned sooner than that, you still have options. The U.S. Department of State outlines the best way to apply for a passport on their website. For an extra $60 fee, there is an expedited service (five to seven weeks processing time, as opposed to eight to 11).

If you are planning international travel within the next 14 calendar days, you are permitted to apply at a passport agency or center under their “urgent travel” umbrella. Call to make an appointment and have proof of your travel in hand. "If you have international travel booked, you can get the passport within three days [of the] ticketed reservation," says Annie Davis, president of Palm Beach Travel. "You must go to a government passport agency."

If your kids already have a passport, be sure to pay attention to expiration dates.

“Until a child turns 16, their passport is good for five years,” says Sayer. “After they turn 16, their passport will be good for 10 years, just like an adult.” Remember to be mindful of expiration dates for both you and your child’s passports, as passports typically cannot expire within six months of your return date.

Can My Newborn Baby Get a Passport?

Yes, you can get your baby a passport as soon as they are born.

“Parents can obtain a passport for their baby regardless of age,” explains Huff. “They could be two days or two years. Keep in mind that some airlines have age minimums for infants flying domestically or internationally.”

But since this process can take weeks or months, you should be in the clear. “By the time it takes to get the passport paperwork processed for your little one and get the passport back in hand, your child will likely be old enough to fly,” adds Huff.

In some instances, you can start the process before the baby is born, like if you're adopting a child from another country or if you unexpectedly gave birth overseas. You can learn more about these special circumstances on the U.S. Department of State's website.

What You Need in Order to Apply

The first step in applying for a minor’s passport is to fill out the DS-11 application form, which can be found on the State Department’s website.

Next, you need a certified, original document to prove U.S. Citizenship. This will most likely be your child’s birth certificate. Note that you cannot use the copy you received at the hospital; you must get a certified copy from the state.

“The birth certificate staffer at the hospital told me this could take up to three months to receive, which freaked me out,” explains Amelia Edelman, assistant general manager at Verywell Family, who was planning on taking a trip with her newborn during her maternity leave. “However, if you live near your state capital city, you can simply walk into the Vital Records office and request the certified copy immediately. It's available there within a few days of your child's birth."

You’ll also need a black and white copy of the birth certificate that the passport office will keep.

Since children are minors, the parents will also need to show I.D. to prove both U.S. citizenship as well as parental relationship. A birth certificate can prove both, but also bring your marriage license if your name has changed. A parent's birth certificate also has to be the original or a certified copy. Bring a black and white photocopy of the parent’s I.D. for the passport office to keep.

Next, you’ll need a photo of your child—and not just any photo, but a standard 2-inch by 2-inch taken within the last six months. Accepted photos have a white background with the child looking straight at the camera with their eyes open. There is an exception for newborns—they do not need to have their eyes open, but still need to be facing the camera.

"The cute and fun part! Your baby’s first passport photo. This will be a lifelong memory," says Davis. Be sure to leave photos loose but secure—do not staple the photo to the form. Items like pacifiers and glasses are not allowed in pictures.

As for where to take the photo, you have a few options. “You can go to any passport photo location, post office, copy store, drugstore, etc., but you can also take passport photos at home, which may be the best option with little babies,” says Huff. “Lay your baby on a white sheet or have them seated with a white sheet behind their head.”

Passport Checklist

  • A completed DS-11 application form (found on the State Department's website).
  • A certified, original document to prove your child's U.S. Citizenship. This will most likely be your child’s birth certificate.
  • Proof of parent's U.S. citizenship and parental relationship (most likely an original or certified copy of your birth certificate, plus your marriage license if your name has changed).
  • Black-and-white photocopy of parent's I.D. 
  • A standard passport photo (2" x 2") of your child.

Who Should Attend the Passport Appointment?

Both parents must be present for the in-person appointment to apply for your child’s passport.

If one parent cannot attend or you are the only parent (for example, if you have sole custody, one parent is deceased, or one parent simply cannot attend for work or another reason), additional documentation or other notarized forms may be needed.

"If one parent is not available to attend the application process, they can fill out a DS-3053 Statement of Consent form and send it with the signing parent," says Huff.

If one parent is unable to be found, or incarcerated, you can fill out a "special family circumstances" form DS-5525 explaining the situation.

And in the case of a deceased parent, you'll need to produce an original or certified copy of the death certificate.

Fees to Apply For a Passport

The total fee for a traditional passport book is $135, in two separate payments (one goes to the Department of State, the other to the passport facility).

“If you’re planning to visit multiple countries, you can request a larger passport book with 52 pages for no additional fee by checking the box marked ‘52’ at the bottom of the application,” says Huff. For expedited service, there is an additional $60 fee.

In some places, the application fee must be paid by check or money order—credit cards are not accepted. This is not true in all cities. Be sure to check with your local passport office to see the payment methods they accept.

Bottom Line: Give Yourself Time

If you're planning to take a trip with your child, start the passport application process as soon as possible.

“It can take eight to 11 weeks for a passport to arrive after filing all the paperwork, so plan ahead and don’t wait until the last minute,” says Huff. “Traveling with small children is stressful enough.”

While the long wait times to get a passport may feel annoying, it's best to stick it out and get your child's passport via a government agency. "Avoid third parties that promise quick passports," says Davis. "Trust a travel agent or the U.S. government website ending in .gov for the most up-to-date information."

Also, keep in mind that there can be delays with some government services. "You can monitor your passport application online," says Davis. "Most of all, enjoy the time with your baby and the travel yet to come!"

A Word From Verywell

If you think an international trip is in your future, don’t wait to apply for a passport for your child. It can take months, even if you pay an extra fee for expedited service. A family trip abroad can make memories that will last a lifetime, so get your documents ready early and prepare for a fun family trip!

5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. NPR. U.S. travelers are back in the saddle again. But they've adapted to a new reality.

  2. U.S. Department of State. Passport services processing times.

  3. U.S. Department of State. Traveler's checklist.

  4. U.S. Department of State. Passports - Children under 16.

  5. U.S. Department of State. Passports - Fee calculator.

By Dory Zayas
Dory Zayas is a freelance beauty, fashion, and parenting writer. She spent over a decade writing for celebrity publications and since having her daughter in 2019, has been published on sites including INSIDER and Well+Good.