The Ultimate Guide to Getting Your (U.S) Baby Passport 13


8 Steps on How To Get a Baby Passport

 

{Some links in this article may earn me mere pennies worth of a commission.  I thank you for helping me to afford a German pretzel at the next fest we attend! Rest assured, I will only recommend products and experiences I personally use and love, regardless of affiliate relationships and I profusely thank you for helping to support our site.  Prost!} 

Before my baby was born, he’d already been to 5 countries.  I mean, how is that for a world traveler!? Since getting pregnant, we’d visited family in the Czech Republic, taken a beach babymoon in Spain, campervanned it up in Iceland for a week chasing the Northern Lights, went back to the US for Christmas and, of course, currently live in Germany.

 

Despite continuing to travel throughout my pregnancy, everyone told us “Oh, you’ll stop traveling once he’s born.”

I’m sorry, but this just grated on my nerves like no other.  Don’t get me wrong.  Will we travel the same way? Of course not.  I mean, I don’t think the world takes too kindly to babies going cage diving with great whites or drinking all day at Oktoberfest.

But does that mean that we won’t travel? I really, REALLY hope not!  If there is anything I’m good at, it’s proving people wrong who like to make snap judgments of my lifestyle.

How To Get a Baby Passport: This is your one stop guide to everything you need to know!

So, you can imagine that the second we received his German birth certificate, we were running to the passport office.  Whether you are travel junkies, like ourselves, or are ready for your first international trip with kids in tow, you obviously know you need a passport.  But, are you finding the process a bit overwhelming and wondering how to get a baby passport at all?

If you are in the military stationed abroad, or an Ex-pat living overseas, head on down to those sections at the bottom of the post specifically for you, but the steps and information needed regardless of where you live (From the US) is going to be the same.

(Note: You’ll hear me talk about “Passport Office” or “Government Workers” etc….whether you are stationed abroad or living in the US, you’ll still need the same basic steps, all the same forms and documents, etc.)

 

How to Get a Baby Passport

 

Step 1: Have a baby

Depending on the misinformation of opening times to your local passport office or the level of hard-headedness of the government personnel you’ll be working with to receive a baby passport, this first step may or may not be one of the easier actions.  On the other hand, if you had an almost 40 hour labor (yes…as in almost 2 full days laboring at the hospital!) that ended in a C-section, like me, then congrats….the hardest part of applying for and getting a baby passport is done!

 

Step 2: Get the Birth Certificate

You can not apply for a baby passport until you have proper documentation that the kid actually is yours and that s/he actually does exist.  Due to some language misunderstandings, it took us almost a full month to receive Lil B’s!  Andy thought for sure the Polizei were going to stop us one day and question if Lil B really was ours.  Luckily, this didn’t happen!

Tip: Due to this step, do not make any passport appointments until you have birth certificate in hand

 

Step 3: Fill out the Appropriate Form(s)

* You’ll need to complete the DS-11 for the application for a child passport.  When we arrived for our appointment, the government worker told us he couldn’t accept the form written out.  I have searched high and low on the official government pages to confirm that the DS-11 MUST be completed online but have found NO information on this.  In fact, on the official Travel.State.Gov  Passport Page, it gives the option to “Complete by Hand” via PDF.  Therefore, either just do it all online to begin with or call your local agency to see if this is required for you before having to fill out the darn thing twice!

Tip: If you are a travel junkie, like us, and fully intend on still getting good use of your suitcases, even with a babe, check the box in the DS-11 Application for the passport book that has extra pages for visas and countrys’ stamps.  Sure, a baby’s passport only lasts 5 years (instead of the typical 10 for adults) so you probably won’t need it, but hey, it’s free and better to get now instead of having to do this whole process (and pay again!) all over in just a few years.

***If you are a US citizen living overseas, see the below information for other forms you’ll need to fill out and provide, such as social security, etc

 

Step 4: Collect All Other Required Documents

There are many required documents for baby passports.  Ensure that you have every.single.one!

Evidence of Child’s US Citizenship

You’ll need to prove that that kid bleeds Red, White and Blue.  Any of the following documents will do:

  • Official and Original Certified birth certificate issued by the city, county, or state
  • Consular report of American birth abroad
  • Previously issued US passport
  • Naturalization Certificate
  • Certificate of Citizenship

Evidence of Relation to Child

Since they weren’t there during those 36 hours of labor where you, through tears, asked your husband why the hypnobirthing techniques (HIPPY ALERT!) weren’t working or when the “Swester” (German nurse) yelled at you to “JUST BREATHE!” you are going to have to prove that the kiddo truly is yours with a:

  •      Birth Certificate with BOTH parents’ names
  •      Adoption Decree with parent(s)’ name (if adopted) or
  •      Court Order of Custody and or Guardianship (for legal guardians)

Parental IDs

In additional to all the above documents, you’ll need to prove that you are legit as well. Any of the following will suffice

  • Your passport
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Naturalization Certificate
  • Current military ID or Government ID

Photocopies of the original documents on a one-sided 8×11′ white paper will also need to be provided

***Note: BOTH parents need to be present during the passport application process!  If only one parent is available, a notarized Statement of Consent must be provided

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Heading Out Into This Great, Wide World With Your Babe?

Research and book affordable activities on TripAdvisor and Hotels at Booking.com

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Step 5: Get those Glamorshots

Ok, I lied…THIS might be one of the hardest steps for obtaining a passport for a baby.  I mean, newborns don’t exactly follow stage directions very well, so getting the photo that will actually work can be time consuming and difficult to say the least.  The requirements are:

  • Two, identical color photos that are 2 x 2 inches.
  • Baby must be facing front, with his or her full face in the the frame (One thing that is not officially noted, but is often a reason for denial is that both ears must be showing)
  • Eyes Open
  • No Shadows on Baby’s Face (aka: shadows of you delicately hovering over the baby while simultaneously trying to get his attention for this darn picture)
  • White or off-white background.

Sounds easy, right?  WRONG!

 Baby Passport Photo Tips:

How To Get a Baby Passport: Brilliant Photo Taking Tips for Baby Passport Photo

Applying For a Passport For Your Wee Little One? PIN ME!

Just like with adults, there are certain passport photo requirements, except adults are typically a wee bit easier to work with!  Here are just a few baby passport photo tips to help ensure a smooth process for everyone involved:

1) Take the photos just before applying (babies grow fast ya’ll!)

2) Take at least a bajillion photos in the hopes that ONE is acceptable.  You can use your phone, but using a quality camera, such as our beloved DSLR Nikon  will ensure a quality photo.  Also, a DSLR type camera will allow for you to do quick clicks and take dozens of photos within seconds, just in case Baby decides to look decent for that one milli second, you can capture it!

3) Print off and bring several photo options that you think will work.  That way, you are (hopefully) guaranteed that at least one will make the cut.

4) Sit baby upright in a carseat, bouncer etc that is covered in a white sheet

5) Under the white blanket, roll up a towel that acts as head holder.  This will be handy since no hands or limbs of mama or papa can be seen

6) Even if the agency offers the service of taking the photos themselves, still do a few on your own.  You can never predict when your little babe will be asleep, crying or making a poop face…all which are common baby practices but no-gos for passport pics!

7) Use a free tool, like http://www.idphoto4you.com/, to size and frame the photo

 

Step 6: Hand over the Moo-lah

Cost of Passport: $80 (paid to Department of State)

Executable Fee: $25 (paid to agency or facility processing the passport)

Different agencies and locations have different required methods of paying, so, as always, call the location you will be applying to before hand to ensure you have the right kind of payment.  For example, some will ONLY accept cash or money orders. Others will take credit cards and checks.

Any Additional Fees/ Costs (such as expedited processing)

 

 

Step 7: Apply in Person (Finally!)

Yeesh, all that work so far and you haven’t actually even gone in to submit your application!

Passport Agency: If you are a procrastinator (don’t worry, I don’t judge, I’m the queen of last minute-ness) and you need the passport in 2 weeks, you’ll have to expedite the process and apply at an official Passport Agency and have proof of immediate international travel.

How Long Does it Take To Get a Child Passport?

Depending on a multitude of variations, you can expect it to take anywhere from three to eight weeks to receive your child’s passport, so plan accordingly if you know you have an upcoming trip where one will be needed.

Passport Acceptance Facility:  Use this handy-dandy search locator for a facility near you .  Many (but not all) court offices and post offices can process applications, but again, check before packing up you, baby and spouse just to be told they don’t do them.

*** When finding a location to submit your passport application to, this might sound like a no-brainer, but check (and then confirm with a call!) the times for passport applications.  They are often not the times of the post office (or other opening times of whatever facility you are applying at) and I’ve heard numerous reports that the online tracker isn’t up to date on correct opening times.  Again, save yourself the time, hassle, headache and crying baby and just call ahead of time!

 

Step 8: Plan Your Trip!

Now that the stresses of getting the passport are over, start dreaming, planning (or often in my case, stressing ABOUT planning! Tip-wine helps!) and getting ready to show your baby all the amazing things this world has to offer!  (Want some inspiration for your trip? Have you checked our our Pinterest Boards all about traveling!?)  Need some tips on staying sane while traveling with kids?  Here are some fantastic tips.

 

 

 

Overseas Ex-Pats and/or Military Personnel Applying for Passports

Alright, I hate to be a cop-out, but if you are an a ‘Murican living overseas, the easiest way to know EXACTLY what you need to do (every country will have varying rules, locations, etc) is to simply call your local embassy or consulate.  This is the only location that you will be able to apply at and it is better to just get the right info from the beginning.  With that being said….

If you are a US citizen living abroad and applying for your baby’s passport, the above forms, process and general fees will all mostly remain the same.  You’ll still have to have all the supporting documents, correct photos, etc.  However, like anything living overseas, there will be some additional paperwork:

-Consular Report of Birth Abroad (DS-2029) Plus $100 for application fee (this is in addition to the passport fees)

– Birth certificate from the hospital/ local county, state, etc (however the birth certificates are done in your foreign location, but the hospital of birth should be able to direct you)

– Original marriage license for parents (if applicable)

– ID card of other parent/spouse if not American

– There may be additional fees for processing and only certain types of payments may be accepted- check with the local embassy/consulate

Tip: Since you have to have all the associated documents anyway, just apply for the social security card at the same time! https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ss-5.pdf

 

If you are military stationed overseas, you will need all of the above.  However, there will be an office/ facility on your Post or Base that will handle everything for you, such as your Community Service office.  You’ll need an appointment, all the required completed forms and documents but instead of having to go to the consulate or embassy, they will send in everything for you.  Again (and sorry to be a broken record) just call the correct office at your installation to ensure you have everything you need to know.

 

 

Have you applied for a baby passport?  What was the most difficult part of the process that someone else can learn from your experience?

 

 

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LeAnna

Author and Creator at Economical Excursionists
Former teacher turned blogger turned mom turned full time travel addict, LeAnna has never been one to live life by the rules. Whether she is moving to a farm in Switzerland to learn to make cheese (Yes, CHEESE), jumping off a mountain to paraglide over Cinderella castles, or taking her baby all over the world with nothing but a backpack on their backs, LeAnna designs and defines her OWN life. LeAnna, her husband Andy, and kiddo, "Lil B" love to live a minimal lifestyle, not only for the "thrill" of pinching pennies but in order to save for traveling the world. Considering over 40 countries and 90+ cities have been explored, we'd say they are doing something right!

About LeAnna

Former teacher turned blogger turned mom turned full time travel addict, LeAnna has never been one to live life by the rules. Whether she is moving to a farm in Switzerland to learn to make cheese (Yes, CHEESE), jumping off a mountain to paraglide over Cinderella castles, or taking her baby all over the world with nothing but a backpack on their backs, LeAnna designs and defines her OWN life. LeAnna, her husband Andy, and kiddo, "Lil B" love to live a minimal lifestyle, not only for the "thrill" of pinching pennies but in order to save for traveling the world. Considering over 40 countries and 90+ cities have been explored, we'd say they are doing something right!


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13 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Getting Your (U.S) Baby Passport

  • Christina

    This looks like useful information but I’m a bit confused about why your baby had a German birth certificate. Are you from Germany (and have now moved to the US)? Or were you visiting Germany where your baby was born?

    • LeAnna Post author

      Hi Christina! We are American, living in Germany, sponsored by the US government to live here though (not on a typical work permit). SO, we are not on the German system (aka Lil B can’t get a German passport or citizenship) but he still gets the German birth certificate since this is where he was born. Yeah…it was a fun paperwork process 😉

  • Ali May

    Haha I recall getting my son’s first passport when he was 8 months old (Aussie passport). The photo was the funniest part (at least he had neck control by then). The rest of the bureaucracy seems overkill for someone so tiny, who will change so much in the next few months (and especially within the next five years!). oh well. That first passport though… it’s a ticket to freedom and adventures! It should never be underestimated in value. Great post!

    • LeAnna Post author

      We just used it for the first time flying and they barely even looked at it!!! The least they could do is have there be some verification of parental relationship or something. Talk about an expensive souvenir! And yes, even just from applying, he already looks totally different!!

  • Rob

    We also heard the “you’ll stop traveling once he’s born” more than once, as it turns out we travel more, far more, now that we have a son. As Canadians we went through much the same issues that you did getting our son’s his first passport. He was indoctrinated into the travel lifestyle at a young age, his first international flight was at 8 months old to Hawaii and then to Argentina at 18 months. He is now 7 is on his second passport, the 3rd one will be issued next year, and he has been to 14 countries

  • Rhonda Albom

    Yes, it’s a hassle getting a kid passport in the USA. It protects underage children from being taken/trafficked. At least you can get a good picture. As an adult, I’ve never had a good passport photo :) Thankfully, my youngest just filled out her last DS-11 (next time, she’s an adult)