Looking for information on how to get a passport for your child? I got you. There's a lot of information to process when getting your child a U.S. passport for the first time – from gathering the necessary documents to understanding the application process. It can be super confusing and tedious. As if the actual traveling with children aspect wasn't stressful enough.
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Trying to figure out how to get a passport for your child doesn't have to be daunting. But you'll want to make sure everything is done correctly so that there are no delays in getting your child's passport.
5 Tips to make getting a passport for your child as smooth as possible
Gather the necessary documents ahead of time (and ORGANIZE THEM!)
One of the most important steps in getting a passport for your child is gathering all of the necessary documents. I used a manila folder for each child. Within each folder, I had all their individual documents paper clipped together.
The following items are required when applying for a U.S. passport:
– Child's birth certificate. Just make sure it is the original birth certificate with the raised seal. Make a copy to keep for yourself because they will send the original to the passport office and while you will get it back it usually takes 8-10 weeks.
– Valid photo identification for both parents (you can use your license or your own passport as long as it's current).
– One passport photo of your child. You can usually take this at a local pharmacy, or get it taken at the passport photo booth when you go for your appointment–just call ahead to make sure they offer this. Make sure that the background is white and your child is wearing normal clothes – they cannot be wearing hats or sunglasses.
– Payment for the passport application fee. This can be done by check, money order, or debit/credit card. Make sure to bring your checkbook because our local post office only allowed us to pay by check or money order–thankfully we had checks stashed in the glove compartment of our car.
To confirm please visit the U.S. Department of State Passport site here.
Fill out the application correctly
One of the most common mistakes parents make when applying for a passport for their child is filling out the application incorrectly. Be sure to read carefully. We had to re-do our application because there is a spot that asks for the mother's name at the time of birth and since we are getting passports for the kids, I thought they meant my name at the time of MY KID'S BIRTH. But I was wrong. They wanted my name when I was born. So my maiden name. Super confusing and we had to re-do all four forms. Whomp whomp.
Complete the Application Process Accurately
Another important step is completing the application process accurately. This means double-checking all of the information before submitting, as any mistakes can lead to delays in obtaining your child's passport.
Some tips for completing the application correctly include:
– Asking a friend or family member to review your application before submitting
– Printing out the instructions from the website and following them step by step
– Calling the passport agency if you have any questions about how to complete the application
Be Prepared for Your Appointment
Once you are sure all your information is correct (and double, and then tripled checked) then you should make an appointment at your local passport office. When you go to your appointment, be sure to have all of the required documents with you (including the application fee). Plan on the appointment takes about 20 minutes per child (and that's if it's all in order!) I would suggest bringing some quiet activities like a book, simple art supplies, and paper to give them something to do while the documents are processed.
If you want to get a passport for your child you will need to have BOTH parents or legal guardians in person at the appointment along with the child.
If both parents cannot appear in person then you'll need to provide either an original death certificate (in case of a deceased parent). Or if you are a single parent you need to provide paperwork that legitimizes that–whether that is a birth certificate of adoption decree listing you as the only parent or the court order granting you sole custody stating you have permission to apply for the passport. The passport office doesn't accept anything as photocopies–only originals! So make sure you have all the documents in order ahead of time.
Keep Your Child's Passport Safe
Once you finally have the passport in hand, be sure to keep it safe! It's a valuable piece of identification and you don't want anything bad happening to it. Some tips for keeping your child's passport safe include:
– Putting it in a safe place that only you know about. When you are home keep them in a locked fireproof safe and then when you are traveling consider getting a small lockable case to hold all your important documents.
– Making a copy of the passport and putting it in a different place. This way if something happens to the passport you will at least have one copy of the original document.
– Put a note inside the passport with your child's name, address, and contact information. This can help if someone finds the passport and tries to return it to your child.
Getting your child a passport is a big deal because it means that they are now able to travel internationally with you. Be sure to take the time to properly prepare for the process and your child will be ready to explore the world!
Some final tips:
– If your child already has a passport, check the expiration date to make sure it's still valid. passports are valid for ten years from the date of issue so if your child's passport is about to expire, you will need to renew it. This can take time so plan ahead!
– If your child does not have a passport and needs one in a hurry, be prepared to pay an expediting fee. The processing time for a new passport when applying through the mail is typically six weeks, but our estimated time was eight to ten weeks. So again, make sure you plan ahead (I feel like a broken record!)
Traveling with a child is an incredible experience for both you and your child. You'll get to share in the wonder of seeing new places together, teaching them about other cultures, and watching them explore their curiosity. Don't let the process of getting a passport for your child intimidate you–once you have a passport for your child you open a whole new world of travel possibilities!