8 Steps on How To Get a Baby Passport
Updated for 2020!
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Before my baby was born, he’d already been to 5 countries (in utero). 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. Therefore, as soon as he was born, we knew that getting his US Baby Passport needed to be at the top of the agenda!
Note: We were living abroad when we had to get Lil B’s passport, but our second, Mr. J, was born right here in the good ‘ol US of A. Therefore, this post will contain information for BOTH expats as well as anyone in the US getting a passport for an infant.
So, you can imagine that the second we received his German birth certificate, we were running to the passport office (while in Germany). Whether you are travel junkies, like ourselves, or are just 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 an infant passport?
This article will detail and outline everything you need to know for how to apply for a newborn passport.
If You Are Military Stationed Abroad or An Expat Needing a US Passport For Baby Born Abroad
If you are in the military stationed abroad, or an Ex-pat living overseas, you might be wondering how to get a baby passport. Just 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’s 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 (if abroad) you might 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…HAVING the baby!
Luckily, when we had Mr. J in Nebraska (as opposed to Germany) the process of getting baby a passport was incredibly easy compared to living abroad! Phew!!!
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 in Germany! 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!
Mr. J’s only took a few weeks here in the US.
Tip: Due to this step, do not make any newborn passport appointments until you have the birth certificate in hand
For Mr. J, getting his birth certificate was a cinch. Before we even left the hospital, we filled out the forms that they gave us to obtain the certificate.
Note: In order to complete your baby’s birth certificate form, both parents will need to be able to provide the following documentation. So don’t forget to pack it in your hospital bag!
- Social Security numbers (you don’t need your cards, just make sure you know your own)
- Proof of identification (So don’t forget your own ID or passport in your bag!)
- Cash or check for the certificate- this varies by location, but typically is somewhere between $5-$30
Step 3: Fill out the Appropriate Form(s)
How To Fill Out DS-11
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 ask 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 country 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 to get a US passport for baby
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 (if applicable)
- Previously issued US passport (if applicable for getting a US passport for a child)
- Naturalization Certificate (if applicable)
- Certificate of Citizenship
Evidence of Relation to Child
Since they weren’t there during those 36 hours of labor with you or when the “Swester” (German nurse) yelled at you to “JUST BREATHE!” right before getting your C-Section 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)
In addition 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
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 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!
Can I Take A Passport Photo At Home?
Yes! Below I have several tips to help ensure a photo that will be approved, included a handy website to frame and crop to the right proportions.
However, you can also go to a place like AAA to get the photos done so that you are more “guaranteed” that everything is correct.
Baby Passport Photo Tips
^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:
- Take the photos just before applying (babies grow fast ya’ll!)
- Take at least a bajillion photos in the hopes that ONE is acceptable. Nowadays, many smartphones have high enough quality cameras and even burst modes (which are SUPER handy in case Baby decides to look decent for that ONE millisecond- you’ve captured it!)
- Sit baby upright in a carseat, bouncer etc that is covered in a white sheet
- 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
- 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!
- Use a free tool, like http://www.idphoto4you.com/, to size and frame the photo. The photo must be:
- In color
- Printed on matte or glossy quality paper
- 2×2 inches
- The baby’s head needs to be between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inch from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head (this is where the link above is helpful)
- 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.
Step 6: Apply in Person
Yeesh, all that work so far and you haven’t actually even gone in to submit your application!
For minors, you MUST apply in person for getting an infant a passport. On top of that, both parents must be present. If one parent can not be present, then a notarized DS 3035 form must be filled out.
Go To an Acceptance Facility
You can apply at any official passport agency, passport office, or acceptance facility. Our closest one was actually at our county courthouse in Nebraska. Some post offices even will have one. Click here to search for a location near you if you are applying for a US passport for newborn in US.
Again, as with everything in this post, ALWAYS call and confirm everything! No point in packing up baby just to arrive to be told they no longer do passports at that particular location!
Also, 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!
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.
Step 7: Hand over the Moo-lah
Cost of Baby Passport: $80 (paid to Department of State)
Executable Fee: $35 (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 beforehand 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.
If you are needing a passport for a newborn ASAP (under 6-8 weeks), then you’ll need to expedite the process. It costs $60 extra (plus expedited shipping costs) to get the passport back to you within a few days.
Any Additional Fees/ Costs (such as specific agencies or expedited fees)
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!) 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.
FAQs For How To Get A Passport For Infants
Does My Baby Need A Passport?
If you intend of traveling outside of the United States with your infant, s/he is required to have a current and valid passport.
What Is the Difference Between A Passport and a Passport Card?
Both a passport book and a passport card are forms of valid US identification, especially for travel purposes. A passport card is only valid for domestic identification as well as for cruises. It looks similar to a driver’s license but also has your nationality, place of birth, and has a specific ID number.
If ANY international travel is intended, then a passport BOOK is required. The passport book has pages for visas and country’s stamps
How Much Does a Baby Passport Cost?
An infant passport costs $80 for the book plus $35 to the agency processing the passport. Extra fees (below) apply for expedited passports.
*Check where you are filing for your passport to ensure you have the correct payment method (some only accept cash, etc)
How Long Does it Take To Get a Child Passport?
How long does it take to get a baby 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.
How Quickly Can I Get a Passport For My Baby- Expedited
If you choose to expedite the process, expect up to three weeks for processing (plus additional shipping days).
However, if you go through one of the agencies, it could take as little as 8 business days.
How Much Does Passport Expediting Cost?
At current writing, to expedite a baby passport, it is $60. You can also pay extra for overnight shipping as well to get it to you even faster.
Where To Apply For An American Passport?
You can apply at any US Passport Agency if you are currently living in the US. If you are currently traveling or are outside of the US, can you apply for a passport at any US Consulate or Embassy
How Long Does a Baby Passport Last?
A baby’s passport is only valid for 5 years (unlike the 10 for adults). Your child will continue to get a 5 year passport until the age of 16, which they can then obtain the adult passport, which is good for 10 years.
Is There A Different Passport for Babies Under 1?
No, all infant and baby passports fall under the “child” passports, which are good until the age of 5.
How Does My Baby Sign His or Her Passport?
Since your baby can not sign his or her own passport, as the parent, you will write (in print) the infant’s name, followed by your own signature, followed by (Mother) or (Father)
Do Kids Need Passports For Cruises?
The answer will vary depending on your cruise. For example, in the US, if your exit and entry port are the same AND your cruise line doesn’t require a passport, then no, a passport may not be required. It is best to check with your cruise line well in advance of your vacation.
Naturally, if your cruise is out of the US (ie: Europe) then yes, your child is still subject to needing a passport.
Does My Baby Need A Passport To Travel Domestically?
No, but proof of age may be required. As always, check with your airline for what is required so that your infant can be permitted to fly. Often times, if there is not an infant passport, airlines may ask for a birth certificate as proof of age.
Does a Baby or Kid Need a Passport to Travel to Canada?
Surprisingly, no. All your baby needs to enter Canada is a birth certificate or passport card
Does a Baby or Kid Need a Passport to Travel to Mexico?
If you plan to arrive in Mexico by land or sea, then only a birth certificate is required for entry and exit to/from Mexico.
However, if you plan on flying into Mexico, then yes, a valid passport is required for everyone, including babies.
Are Parents’ Names On a Child Passport?
Yes. If there are two parents (or guardians) then not only will both parents’ need to sign for the passport, but both need to be present at the passport agency.
If there is only one parent, you need to have legal proof that you are the sole parent.
What If Both Parents Can Not Be Present To Apply For A Passport?
If there are extenuation circumstances as to why both parents can not be physically present to apply for a passport (ie: one parent is deployed), then a notarized Statement of Consent is required.
Can I Renew a Child’s Passport By Mail?
No. Unlike adults, you can not renew a child passport via the mail. Every 5 years, you will need to go through all of the above steps, inlcuding a new DS-11, photos, etc, and apply for a new passport until the child is 16.
At 16, they can apply for an adult passport, which lasts 10 years and can be renewed by mail.
What is the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP)?
There is currently a US passport name check system. A parent must opt-in to this separate to applying for a minor’s passport. The CPIAP will then send the guardians notifications when things like new passport applications are sent in or f any passports are denied for your child. If
Overseas Ex-Pats and/or Military Personnel Applying for Passports
Alright, I hate to be a cop-out, but if you are an American 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, processec 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.
Paperwork Needed To Apply For An Infant US Passport While Living Abroad
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad (DS-2029) Plus $100 for the 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!
Military Personnel/ Department of Defense
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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