Do you know how to renew a minor passport?
That’s a trick question. Minor passports — US passports that are issued to children under age 16 — can’t actually be renewed. Instead, you’ll need to go through the same issuance procedure that you did the first time your child was issued a passport.
Minor Passports Are Only Valid for Five Years
Unlike adult passports, which are valid for ten years, passports for children are only valid for five years. Why? For one thing, children change in appearance very quickly. If you get a passport for your daughter when she is two, she’s going to look quite different by the time she turns seven!
Passports for children also have a limited validity to help protect against international child abduction. The US Government wants to make sure that both parents approve of their child having a passport. The quicker expiration means that every five years, the government can re-confirm that both parents want their child to be able to travel out of the country.
Applying for Your Child’s Second or Third Passport
Depending on how early you get your child his first passport, you may need to apply for a new minor passport two or three times before he turns 15. The procedure is exactly the same. You’ll need to gather all the required documents and take your child to the Passport Acceptance Agent. The parental consent requirements remain the same — both parents or legal guardians need to go in person to the Passport Acceptance Facility, or if one parent can’t attend, he or she will need to sign and notarize form DS-3053.
You’ll need to submit all the same documents, with one addition: you must submit your child’s expiring passport. (If your child has a passport card, you’ll need to send that in, too.) The passport will be marked cancelled and returned to you.
Is the Original Birth Certificate Required When You Renew a Minor Passport?
Yes, you’ll need to submit both the expiring passport and your child’s original birth certificate! If you’re applying for an adult passport, the birth certificate is used to prove your US citizenship. You have the option of submitting a previous passport instead of the birth certificate, if you have one. Your old passport also is a proof of US citizenship. However, for a child’s passport application, the birth certificate isn’t just used to prove citizenship. It’s also needed as proof of your relationship to your child!
Don’t worry, you’ll get back both the birth certificate and your child’s old passport when the new passport is issued.
What Happens When Your Child Turns 16?
My oldest son is currently on his third and final minor passport. His first passport was issued when he was a one-year-old baby, the second when he was 6, and the third when he was 11. His current passport will expire when he’s 16. Even though he’ll be eligible for an adult passport, he still won’t be able to renew his current passport. He’ll need to apply for his first adult passport instead.
It’s convenient that my son will be able to get his first adult passport shortly after he turns 16, but what if we’d applied for his most recent passport when he was 14? That would mean that his minor passport would be valid until he’s 19. Even after turning 16, he’d be able to use that minor passport until it expires.
Do you have questions about minor passports? Stay tuned, we’ll be talking about children’s passports all month here on the G3passports.com blog!