Alyson Nicole Acevedo was featured in whattoexpect.com
Do Babies Need Passports?
Planning an international trip with the newest addition to your family? Here’s what you’ll need to have (and do) well in advance of take off and landing. “Do Babies Need Passports?”
As if you weren’t already juggling enough as a new parent! If you’re planning a trip shortly after your little one arrives, you’re likely scrambling to make travel arrangements and prepare for the experience of flying with a young baby. That’s enough to make any sleep-deprived, hormonal, not to mention still-recovering new mom cringe. After all, it can be hard enough to sneak a five-minute shower into your day, let alone double as your family’s travel agent.
If your upcoming trip is an international one, you’re probably wondering whether or not your baby will need a passport. The answer is yes: Every human, no matter how young, needs a passport if she will be leaving one country and entering another.
Unfortunately, even in the digital age, getting baby a passport isn’t a one-click process. In fact, it requires several steps, the physical presence of both parents and a whole lot of well-thought-out planning. While it’s certainly a lot to add to your new-mom plate, it’s nothing you can’t handle with the right know-how and guidance.
Here are all the steps you’ll need to take, from start to finish, if you’re looking to score a U.S. passport for your baby.
Step 1: Start planning as early as possible
If your family travels often or you already know you have an upcoming trip to a destination outside of the U.S., it’s smart to begin the process of getting baby’s passport ASAP.
First, you’ll want to visit Travel.State.Gov’s U.S. Passports section, download Form DS-11 and submit the initial paperwork. Click “Apply for or Renew My Passport” and then select “Children under 16” on the tab on the left. The two-page form asks for general personal information, including your baby’s social security number. You can do this part at home.
Does your baby not have her social security number yet? According to Robert Quigley, M.D., Senior Vice President and Regional Medical Director of the Americas Region at International SOS Assistance, Inc. and MedAire, parents are required to write a letter that includes the following exact phrase: “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the following is true and correct: (Child’s full name) has never been issued a Social Security number by the Social Security Administration.”
The cost for a minor’s passport is currently $115 — $80 for the application fee and $35 for the acceptance fee. This is specifically for the passport book (do not apply for a passport card, which can’t be used for international air travel). Expedited service costs an additional $60.
Step 2: Get baby’s passport photo taken
Just as you had to when getting your own passport, baby will need to have a photo taken that satisfies the requirements necessary for use on U.S. passports. Many local drug stores or pharmacies (CVS, Walgreens), offer this service as well as the printing of the photo at a very low cost. As an alternative, however, you can take the photo at home using a camera, or even download an app that helps you with the process.
When taking a photo of your baby or toddler, no other person should be in the photo. Your child should be looking at the camera with his eyes open, although it is acceptable if an infant’s eyes are not open or not open entirely, explains Alyson Nicole Acevedo, a travel agent with VIP Vacations and mom of two young children.
Step 3: Coordinate both parents’ schedules
Both parents or legal guardians must be present at your local passport acceptance facility in order to get a passport for a baby. “Many post offices, libraries and government offices offer the application process via appointment and some will also accept walk-ins,” says Dr. Quigley.
If only one parent can attend in person, there is a form for the second parent to sign (which will need to be notarized). “There are other parental exceptions, so be sure you find out what documents are necessary for your personal situation if it will be just you obtaining the passport with your child,” says Alison Mitzner, M.D., a pediatrician in New York City.
Step 4: Gather all the documents you’ll need
In order for your baby to receive a passport, you must show proof that she is a U.S. citizen. You’ll need:
- Two copies of the application and identification documents.
- The original (and a copy) of your baby’s birth certificate and her social security card. These show proof of the parental relationship with the baby, which is a requirement to obtain a minor’s passport. Note that you will have to submit these documents along with your application. This is standard procedure, but you can expect to receive them back in the mail with baby’s new passport.
- A valid ID for both parents, such as an in-state driver’s license or passport. “If one parent is unable to be present, the parent unable to attend must fill out Form DS-3053 (Statement of Consent) and have it notarized prior to the application process,” says Dr. Quigley.
- Passport photo of the baby.
Step 5: Head to your local passport facility
To find out where you can apply for a passport in your area, Dr. Quigley suggests using the following locator: iafdb.travel.state.gov.
If you live in a major U.S. city, you might have the advantage of applying for baby’s passport at a regional passport agency as opposed to a post office. This can expedite the process for you, making it a short one to five business days instead of several weeks.
Once you have a date and location selected, it’s smart to give yourself more time than you think you will need (an hour at the very minimum). You never know how long the lines might be for a walk-in appointment or how fussy your little one might get. Consider what time of day your child might be the most calm — this tends to be mornings and early afternoons for most young babies.
Step 6: Wait
Four to six weeks is the average amount of time it takes to get your baby’s passport, but this can vary greatly depending on demand and time of year. If you paid to have your baby’s passport expedited, you can expect it to arrive in two to three weeks.