Five Things to Know about Getting Your Child a Passport

Five Things to Know about Getting Your Child a Passport

Many parents want their children to see the world and experience different cultures. International travel can not only be a fun vacation but can be an important part of child’s education.    But before they can travel internationally, they must have a passport. Here are five things to know about getting your child a passport.


  1. Generally, both parents must consent to the child having a passport.


While many parents want their child to travel abroad, they worry the other parent may take their child to another country without their consent. For the latter category, the good news is that American law requires both parents to consent to international travel.

Generally, the simplest and easiest way for both parents to approve the issuance of a passport is for both parents to go with the child to apply, using Form DS-11, for the passport. (Children must apply in person for a passport).

If a parent cannot attend, they must fill out Form DS-3053 and sign in front of a notary and provide a photocopy of the back and front of the ID they provide the notary.


  1. Parents must show proof that they are the child’s parents and that the child is a U.S. citizen.


The government is going to want to know the people appearing in front of them claiming to be the child’s parents are, in fact, the child’s parents. Because of this, the parents will need to show a certified copy of a birth certificate, adoption certificate, divorce decree, or Court-ordered Parenting Plan.

Each parent will need a valid ID and a photocopy of the front and back of the ID printed on standard white paper. The photocopy cannot be double-sided.

For the child’s citizenship requirement, the parent should produce a valid U.S. passport, a certified U.S. birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth, and a Certificate of Citizenship.


  1. In certain circumstances, only one parent may consent, but it’s that parents’ duty to prove that the other parent’s consent is not necessary.


In certain situations, only one parent’s consent may be required. Those situations are where the child has only one legal parent or where one parent has sole “legal custody” (in Arizona, this is called sole “legal decision-making”).

A child may have only one legal parent for a variety of reason:

  • The child’s only legal parent is its mother. This occurs where an unmarried woman gives birth and no one was ever established as the father of the child. If that’s the case, the legal parent must produce a certified birth certificate showing that only one parent is listed.
  • The child was adopted by only one person. In that case, the legal parent must produce a certified adoption certificate.
  • A parent has died. There, the legal parent must provide a certified copy of the death certificate.
  • A parent has been deemed mentally incompetent by the court. In that instance, the legal parent must produce a certified copy of the Court order deeming the other parent mentally incompetent


If you cannot locate the other parent, you have to fill out Form DS-5525 and expect some complications in getting the passport issued.


  1. Different rules apply once a child turns 16, and the child only needs to show that at least one parent is aware they’re applying for a passport.


For children ages 16 and 17, the rules change. At that age, the child need only show that at least one parent is “aware” that they are applying for a passport. Parental awareness can be shown several ways, including having the parent sign Form DS-11, a signed note, proof that the parent is paying application fees, or a notarized statement on Form DS-3503. All of these options require the child to produce a photocopy of the parent’s photo ID.  See this page for more information.

Furthermore, whereas the passport for a child under 16 is valid for five years, the passport for a child ages 16 and 17 is valid for ten (10) years.


  1. Parents who are worried about their child being abducted can sign up for Children’s Passport Issuance Alert program.

When a parent enrolls their child in this program, the State Department is on alert that there may be an issue with parental consent to the passport. Therefore, the State Department may contact the parents to verify whether the parental consent is genuine and may even alert the parents of a pending passport application. Parents can sign up by filling out Form DS-3077 for each child they want protected under the program. The program is far from foolproof, but a good first step to protect children who may be abducted internationally. Find more information here.

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