If you're planning a family trip abroad, keep in mind that everyone, including small children and infants, needs a passport for air travel overseas. However, if you're going to be crossing into Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or parts of the Caribbean by land or by sea, children 15 and under may still use a certified copy of their birth certificate in lieu of a passport.
As a parent or legal guardian, you may apply for a passport on your child's behalf, but your child must be with you at the time of application (all first-time passport applicants must apply in person). Passport renewals must also be done in person if your child was under 16 when the passport was first issued.
- Application form DS-11 (do not sign until instructed)
- One 2x2 inch color passport photo of your child, taken in the past six months
- Proof of your child's citizenship, such as a certified birth certificate or previous passport
- Proof of each parent's relationship to the child (if you are the child's parent and your name is on your child's birth certificate, the certified birth certificate will suffice)
- Proof of each parent's identity, such as a passport or valid driver's license, and a photocopy of each of these documents
- Money for the passport application fee ($105)
As mentioned above, your child must be with you to apply for his or her passport. In addition, both parents/guardians must appear with the child at time of application, or one parent/guardian may appear with a notarized statement of consent authorizing passport issuance for the child.
If you are a single parent/guardian, you may apply alone for the child's passport with proof of sole authority, such as judicial declaration of incompetence of non-applying parent, a court order declaring sole custody or a death certificate of non-applying parent. For a list of all acceptable documentation, visit the State Department's Web site.
If the child is too young to sign his or her passport, the parent or guardian must print the child's name on the passport and sign their own name.
There are thousands of passport acceptance facilites in the United States. Click here to search by zip code.
For more family travel tips and ideas, see our sister site, Family Vacation Critic!
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--written by Genevieve S. Brown