Planning a spring break getaway with the kids? Before you pack your bags, make sure you know what the passport requirements will be for your child’s travel. If you’ll be getting on a plane to a foreign destination, everyone in your family will need their very own passport book… and yes, that does include newborn babies! Here, we’ve compiled our top tips for minor passports.
Tip 1: Keep an eye on your Child’s Passport validity.
If the whole family applied for passports at the same time, bear in mind that the kids’ passports are going to expire long before mom and dad’s! Minor passports issued to US citizens age 15 and under are valid for only 5 years, rather than the 10 years issued to adults.
Another important thing to remember is that there is no such thing as a passport renewal for kids! Only adult passports – the ten-year passports issued to travelers age 16 and older – can be renewed. Kids who are still under age 16 will need to go through the minor passport procedure again to get a new passport. If your son or daughter is now 16 or older, the new adult passport procedure will be used to issue their new passport.
Tip 2: Plan your visit to the Passport Acceptance Agent.
When a child applies for a US passport, both parents will have to demonstrate that they want the child’s passport to be issued. The easiest way to do this is to have both parents accompany the child to the Passport Acceptance Agent. (If only one parent can accompany the child, the other parent will have to complete Form DS-3503 and have it notarized.) Passport Acceptance Agents are typically located in major post offices, or at other government facilities such as Clerk of the Court offices, and most of them require appointments to be scheduled in advance. We recommend that you plan your visit to the Passport Acceptance Agent to make it convenient for the whole family. Perhaps it’s most efficient for you to go to a location near your office, or one near your child’s school so she doesn’t have to miss too many classes. Some locations also have evening hours, which are great for working parents!
Tip 3: Consider taking your young child’s passport photo yourself.
A school age child can be trusted to sit patiently on a photographer’s stool to have a passport photo taken, but what if you have a wiggly toddler, or a tiny baby who can’t sit up yet? If you have a digital camera, or even a smartphone with a good camera, you can take your child’s passport photo yourself. You can format the photo to State Department specifications by uploading it into their photo cropping tool online or by using a website like PassportPhoto4You. You can then print your photo yourself if you have a good color printer and photo paper, or you can have it printed at a drug store or office supply store that offers photo printing services.
Here are our tips to get a good passport photo of your child:
- Take the photo in a well-lit area, against a plain white wall or blanket. There should not be anything in the background of the photo, or any shadows across your child’s face. For young babies, we recommend having the baby lie on a white sheet or blanket on the floor, while you snap the photo from above.
- Your child’s head should be bare – no hats or headbands.
- There should be no other items in the photo with your child – no chairs, toys, pacifiers, bottles, or parent’s hands!
- Your child should look straight at the camera and have a relatively neutral expression. Both eyes should be open, but the State Department is often lenient about this requirement for newborn babies.
- Take a lot of photos and choose a cute one!