6 Tips for Applying for a Child Passport
Updated: Jan 23
Not too long ago I applied for a passport for my son Henry, and the process was a little bit different than what it is for adults. When you’re applying for a passport for a child or a baby, here are 6 tips to keep in mind.
Tip #1: Consider filling out a paper application.
You have the option of filling out a passport application online or with a paper copy that you can pick up at the post office. Even though you can fill out an application online, you can’t actually apply for the passport online for kids under the age of 16 — you have to do so in person. Since you have to go in person to apply anyways, I suggest using the paper application (and grabbing a few in case you make any mistakes). You can always bring the application home to take your time filling it out and just go back to the post office when you’re ready. There’s nothing wrong with filling out an online application, but keep in mind that once you print it, you can’t make any changes to it. This leads me to Tip #2.
Tip #2: Read the application carefully.
Whenever you’re filling out an application, especially a government one, take your time and read everything carefully. If you make a mistake, like I did, you’ll have to fill out a whole new one (you’re not allowed to cross anything out and correct it). This is why I suggest filling out a paper application as opposed to the online one. I made a mistake on a line that said “parent’s name at birth,” by putting my married name, and I had to redo it.
In addition to reading the application carefully, make sure you know what documents you’ll be required to present with the application. You’ll need to provide multiple copies (original and photocopy) of confidential documents, like your child’s birth certificate and both parents’ IDs. When making a photocopy of your IDs, make a copy of both the front and the back. The copies need to be single-sided, so you can’t put your ID information on one side and the other parent’s on the back side.
Tip #3: Make sure both parents are available.
Because the child is a minor, both parents need to be present for the application process. Thankfully, you’re able to make an appointment, which can be helpful for parents with busy schedules. But if one parent can’t go, they can fill out a statement of consent form that must be signed and dated in the presence of a certified notary public, as well as provide a photocopy of the front and back of their ID to the notary with their form.
Tip #4: Don’t wait until the last minute.
It’s important to consider when you’ll need your child’s passport. The timeframe for receiving a passport (for a child or adult) takes weeks. The current timeframe for standard processing by the Department of State is 6 to 9 weeks. For an additional fee, you can expedite it, and it’ll take 3 to 5 weeks. So you definitely don’t want to wait until the last minute. You also don’t necessarily want to get it too early. Child passports are only valid for 5 years, as opposed to the 10-year time frame allotted for adults.
Tip #5: Bring the correct form of payment.
Regardless of how old the person that's receiving the passport is, you must pay two fees: an application fee and an acceptance fee (the prices will vary based on whether the passport is for a child or an adult). And one thing to keep in mind when paying for your passport is that not all forms of payment are accepted at all application locations. If you’re applying at the post office for example, they’ll only take a check or money order — credit cards are not accepted. But it never hurts to just call the location ahead of time and ask so you can be prepared.
Tip #6: Don’t forget about the photo.
There are a lot of things to remember and consider when applying for a passport, but don’t forget about the actual photo! Especially if it’s for a baby. We got Henry’s passport at our local post office, and they didn’t have a backdrop for the photo. We ended up putting a white blanket over his carseat (a white sheet would also work). If you go somewhere like the pharmacy, this most likely won’t be necessary. I also recommend keeping their favorite toy or a rattle on hand to help them look at the camera.
A helpful infographic of the steps to apply for a child’s passport is also available by the Department of State.
Check out my instagram @hapahomecooking for a sneak peek at Henry’s first passport photo!