The demand for international travel is back, baby! And with that renewed excitement comes the need for passports. A lot of people let their passports expire during lockdown, and the State department continues to experience a passport processing backlog. Last year we wrote about the processing backlog, and that’s continued to be a thing in 2022. If you have kids in need of a passport (or renewal) the process is more complicated and requires extra planning. Here’s everything you need to know.

Step #1: Allow plenty of time to apply for a child’s passport

Before we get into any of the logistics, we cannot stress enough how important it is to start this process early. Many of the passport acceptance facilities (like post offices and libraries) have very limited appointments available, and may only book out a few weeks in advance.

While there are 3rd party agencies who promise expedited service, you will pay through the nose for this service and you can save your cash if you just allow ample time for processing. The State Department recommends applying for a passport a few months in advance.

Children under 16 must appear in person to apply or renew for their passport, and need to be accompanied by both parents. Further, a child’s passport is only valid for 5 years. Make sure you’re not overdue for a renewal.

Step 2: Book an appointment to apply for a passport

Locate an official passport acceptance facility. Book an appointment. This step can be tricky right now. A lot of passport processing facilities have quite limited appointment times, and many (like the post office) require you to book online. Some local libraries allow you to book by phone. We recommend looking into a variety of offices and book the earliest appointment you can.

Step 3: Complete the DS-11 form online and print it out

The DS-11 form is available online and should be printed out and brought to your child’s passport appointment. You’ll need to include your child’s social security number as part of the application if they have been issued one, and you should not sign the application before the appointment. You’ll sign documentation at the application appointment.

Step 4: Locate your child’s original birth certificate (or certified copy)

Photocopies or notarized copies are not acceptable. Other acceptable documents include: a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth; Certificate of Citizenship. If you do not have one of these documents that show primary evidence, you must submit secondary evidence.

You must bring a photocopy of the evidence to your appointment.

Step 5: Show evidence of the parental relationship

This step requires you to demonstrate evidence of your parental relationship to the applicant child. Some documents (like a U.S. birth certificate) show both U.S. citizenship and the parental relationship. These documents show evidence of the parental relationship and should also be submitted at your passport appointment:

Step 6: Collect acceptable Identification

You and your child’s other parent must present identification to the acceptance agent and make copies of both of them, front and back for the agent to keep with the application (don’t just bring your i.d. cards, you’ll need to leave copies with the passport agent).

Acceptable forms of identification include:

  • Valid or expired, undamaged U.S. passport book or passport card
  • In-state, fully valid driver’s license or enhanced driver’s license with photo
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Certificate of Citizenship
  • Government employee ID (city, county, state, or federal)
  • U.S. military or military dependent ID
  • Current (valid) foreign passport
  • Matricula Consular (Mexican Consular ID) – commonly used by a parent of a U.S. citizen child applicant
  • U.S. Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) – commonly used by a parent of a U.S. citizen child applicant
  • Trusted Traveler IDs (including valid Global Entry, FAST, SENTRI, and NEXUS cards)
  • Enhanced Tribal Cards and Native American tribal photo IDs
  • Other documents: 1) In-state, fully-valid learner’s permit with photo, 2) In-state, fully-valid non-driver ID with photo, or 3) temporary driver’s license with photo. Note: you may be asked to present an additional ID when presenting one of these three documents.If you cannot present one of these, please review your options on the State Department website.

Step 7: Provide parental consent for your child to receive a passport

The easiest way to provide parental consent is for both parents to appear together at the passport acceptance facility. However, there are sometimes extenuating circumstances that might preclude you both appearing. For a list of reasons this might be the case, you can review this page on the State Department website, and complete the proper paperwork for your situation.

Step 8: Provide an acceptable photo of your child to the passport agent

This link shows acceptable requirements for passport photos.

The State Department website offers much more information on passports for children. Because of the increased demand, the State Department is also hosting a limited number of Special Passport Fairs across the country where you can sometimes show up without an appointment to get your documents processed. Check the list periodically to see if your city and state are on the schedule. If you’re not in a huge hurry, a Special Passport Fair could be an efficient alternative to getting your family processed!

Step 9: Pay all fees to the passport agent and submit your application

Make sure you bring two separate checks for the passport fees, You’ll pay one passport fee for application ($100) plus a processing fee of $35 to the acceptance facility. You can also pay an additional fee to expedite service ($60). A full list of fees can be found here.

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