Getting official child identification documents can be tricky. Most adults are used to using our driver’s licenses as our everyday identification, but driver’s licenses aren’t an option for children under 15! Minor passports, both passport books and passport cards, are the perfect solution. They can be used as child identification in any situation that requires your child to show identification.
When is your child likely to need identification?
Let’s look at some scenarios in which your child could use their passport book or passport card as official ID.
1. International Travel
This one is obvious! Children, even babies, are subject to the same passport requirements as adults. Your child will need a valid passport book for all international air travel.
2. TSA Security at the Airport
Whether you’re boarding a domestic flight or an international one, you’re going to need to get through the TSA security checkpoint first. The official rule is that children under 18 do not require their own identification if they are traveling with an adult companion. However, in practice, having ID for your kids will get you through the security checkpoint much faster! Families who do not have child identification documents are asked many questions by TSA security agents. The agents have to determine whether your child should be traveling with you, or if there’s a risk that you might be abducting the child. Having ID for your child goes a long way toward proving that your child really should be with you!
3. Travel as an Unaccompanied Minor
Thinking about letting your kid fly on his own to go visit Grandma? Airlines have strict rules for air travel by unaccompanied minors. Many airlines require that your child have official ID in order to fly on their own. A passport is the ideal child identification to use for unaccompanied minor travel. Because it has a photograph, it will allow the airline to positively identify your child and make sure your child gets where he needs to go.
4. Enrolling in TSA PreCheck or Global Entry
Frequent travelers love the TSA PreCheck and Global Entry programs! By assigning you a Known Traveler Number, these Trusted Traveler programs allow you to get through TSA security checkpoints and US immigration quickly using designated express lanes. Children age 12 and under can also use the express lanes if they are traveling with a parent who is part of TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. That’s great for your little kids, but what about your middle-schooler? Children age 13 and over need to apply for their own Known Traveler Number, and in order to get one, they must have official ID. You can use your child’s passport book or passport card as child identification for TSA PreCheck applications for your young teen. If you’re enrolling them in Global Entry, you will need to have their passport books. Global Entry is specifically focused on international travel, so passport books are a must.
5. SATs and Other College Testing
We’ve talked a lot about the many ways your child’s passport can come in handy when you’re traveling. But it can also be useful when you are at home! One important use of a passport for child identification is for college testing, like the SAT. To prevent testing fraud, the College Board checks IDs against the name listed on the test. All students must show official photo ID when they arrive to take the test. A passport book or passport card is one of the few universally-accepted child identification documents that can be used for college testing.
6. Medical Emergencies and Child Identification
Imagine this: your 14 year old daughter is traveling with her soccer team. You’ve got to work, so you’re not with her. During the game, she falls and breaks her wrist on the pitch. It’s not a life-or-death emergency, but she’s in pain, and she needs medical treatment right away. Does she have the right documents to get registered at the hospital without you? If she has her passport book or card, she can use that as identification with her health insurance card.