How to get a passport for your newborn baby
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I had long dreamed of how travel and vacation would change when our first baby arrived. But contrary to others, I couldn’t wait to take my daughter on long-haul intercontinental trips to start making memories with her (whether she will remember them or not!) at a young age.
But in order to travel internationally with a baby, regardless of how young they are, you will first need to get your newborn a U.S. passport.
The U.S. Department of State explains the process for getting a passport for a minor on their website — but it’s quite complicated. So we’ve broken down the necessary details below. We hope this guide gets you on your way to a new passport for your newborn and years of international travel to come!
What information is needed to get a passport for a newborn baby?
To get your infant a passport, you’ll need a few key pieces of information and documents. You will start by filling out an application form and then supplying proof of their U.S. citizenship and proof of the child’s relationship to you (as parents or legal guardians). Finally, you’ll need a passport photo for the baby, which can easily be taken/printed from home or handled at one of many retail locations.
Typically, the entire application can be done with the child’s birth certificate (which contains the parent(s) or guardian’s legal names), parental ID, passport photos, and payment for the processing fee.
How to apply for my newborn baby’s passport
Fill out Form DS-11
First things first, you will need to fill out Form DS-11. This is the government form for a passport application and will require all of the basic identification information for the applicant (in this case, your child!). Have their date of birth, social security number, and address information readily available to make the process as simple as possible.
You’ll also need the same information for each parent/guardian (including date of birth, address, and contact information). Finally, you’ll enter a few details about the applicant’s occupation (n/a for children!) and good emergency contact information. It’s important that you do not sign form DS-11 yet, as the signature needs to be done in person once the parent/guardian identity has been confirmed by the processing agent.
Gather required documents
In addition to the application form DS-11, you will also need to compile quite a few pieces of documentation about the child and his or her parent(s)/guardian(s). For a newborn baby, the simplest and best documents you can use are as follows:
- Birth certificate to prove US citizenship and relationship to parents (both parent names listed)
- Valid identification for each parent such as a driver’s license or US passport
- Copies of parents’ identification (such as a one-page photocopy of your passport)
Keep in mind that you will need copies of each parent’s identification for each passport application. So if you’re lucky enough to be getting passports for your new twins (!!), you’ll need two copies each of both parent’s passports (for example).
Provide two passport photos
The fun part begins when you try to get your infant to look straight, eyes open, for their new passport photo. Keep in mind that these passports will be valid for five years, so you want their picture to be great!
To make things simple, you can get infant passport photos taken at many retail locations such as Costco, CVS, or even many Post Office locations. My wife was unhappy with how my daughter looked in her Costco picture (no offense to Costco!), so we ended up taking the photos at home and printing them on photo paper.
Note: The rules are somewhat relaxed for infant passport photos as the government agency understands how difficult it is to get a “normal” picture. Our daughter has a smirk on her face and the photo was still accepted!
If you plan to take your own photos, be sure to print out two copies (2” x 2”) and adhere to the strict passport photo requirements. We brought our photos with us to the passport application appointment at the post office and the agent helped staple them to our application page.
Passport application appointment
Finally, you’ll need to schedule and attend a passport appointment through USPS. Visit the Post Office’s passport website to get clear instructions and look for dates and times that may work for both parents/guardians to attend a passport appointment. You can also try your luck with a “walk-in” without an appointment if you can’t find an appointment time that fits your needs.
My wife and I planned an appointment ~2 weeks out and showed up a few minutes early. Our name was called, and we brought our daughter and her passport application in to be quickly processed. The whole process was about ~15 minutes and we were on our way (after paying the $115 fee).
I cannot stress highly enough that both parents to be present during the appointment will save so much grief. If only one parent can attend, there are numerous avenues for notaries and “giving consent” that have been cumbersome and problematic for folks we know. Try to avoid this at all costs and go together, if at all possible! If you are a solo parent/guardian, this obviously does not apply to you.
Typical processing time is stated as 10-12 weeks, but I was grateful to receive my newborn’s passport in less than a month. If you do have urgent travel plans, you can view more information on the Get My Passport Fast page which outlines expedited options.
You can pay a $60 expedited processing fee to receive your newborn’s passport in “4-6 weeks”–which could add some peace of mind if you have quickly approaching travel plans. You can also track your application status (typically shows up online ~1 week after your appointment) online to see its progress.
To be honest, I’m still a bit baffled that applying for a newborn passport can’t be executed online. And though some “passport processing businesses” will offer to handle some of the leg work for you (for a fee, of course!), the process is relatively straightforward and easiest when executed using the steps above.
Just remember not to sign the DS-11 form until you get to your appointment and that you’ll save yourself a headache if all of your newborn’s parents/guardians can be present to verify consent. And once you get your newborn’s passport, happy traveling and welcome to the club! Bringing your children along on life’s adventures is an incredible gift.
Featured image by Gladius Stock/Shutterstock.
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