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Passports for Newborns – What Does Your Tiny Traveler Need?


Passports for newborns?  Yes!

One of the biggest myths about US passports is that newborn babies do not need passports to travel with their parents.  This is absolutely not true. Every traveler needs to have their very own passport, and that includes newborn babies!

Whether you are planning to travel internationally with your young baby, or whether you want to get your baby a passport just to prove her US citizenship, there are some special considerations for passports for newborns.  Newborn babies are subject to all the same passport requirements as any other minor passport applicant.  Today, we’ll look at some of those requirements in depth and learn what’s a little different about getting passports for newborns.


Getting a Birth Certificate for Your Newborn

The birth certificate showing your child was born in the US is the most important requirement for a minor passport.  Usually, when we talk about getting a birth certificate for a passport, we’re talking about how to get an official copy of a birth certificate.  For a newborn baby, we need to talk about how to get a birth certificate issued for the very first time!

Birth certificates are issued by the Vital Statistics Office in each US state or territory.  It’s your responsibility, as a parent, to file for your baby’s birth certificate.  You’ll need to have decided on your baby’s name before you file.  You’ll also need to provide the full names of both parents and their city, state, and date of birth.   Part of the birth certificate form will also be completed by the medical practitioner who attended your birth.  The way you’ll file for the birth certificate will depend on where your baby was born.

  • Hospital birth – Every hospital has employees on staff who go around the maternity ward to help new parents file for their baby’s birth certificate.  They will give you a form to fill out, and then they will collect the form and file it for you.
  • Freestanding birthing center – The staff at the birthing center will help you file for your baby’s birth certificate. much like the staff at a hospital would.
  • Birth at home with a registered midwife – Your midwife will help you fill out and file the form to get your baby’s birth certificate.
  • Unassisted homebirth – Some people choose to give birth without medical assistance… and for others, it’s a huge surprise when baby decides to arrive in a hurry at home or in the car!  If you are planning an unassisted homebirth, we recommend you check in advance with your state’s Vital Statistics Office to find out if any additional documents are needed.  Some states require that you provide “proof of pregnancy,” such as records of your prenatal care or affidavits from people who saw you during your pregnancy.

Filing for the birth certificate is only the first step!  You will not automatically be sent a copy of your baby’s birth certificate.  You will either need to order a copy by mail, or you will need to go to a local Vital Statistics Office in person to get a copy of your baby’s birth certificate.  You’ll need to prove that you are your baby’s parent, usually by showing your driver’s license or passport, and you’ll have to pay for the birth certificate copy.  Most places offer a large discount on a second copy of the birth certificate — if you are offered the chance to get a discount on two copies, we highly recommend you get an extra!


Social Security Number

A new law that went into effect in December 2015 means that you have to list your Social Security Number on your passport application.  This is even true for passports for newborns!  You’ll need to include your baby’s Social Security Number on her passport application… which means she’ll need to get a Social Security Number before she gets her first passport!

You’ll be able to request your baby’s Social Security Number at the same time you file for the birth certificate.  You’ll get your baby’s Social Security Card in the mail as soon as it is issued.  It usually takes 2-4 weeks for the card to arrive.


Passport Photos for Babies

Your newborn baby is going to need a passport photo!  Getting an appropriate passport photo for a tiny baby can pose some challenges.  We actually think it works best to take your baby’s passport photo yourself!  Here are a few points to keep in mind:

  • Try to get a photo with your baby’s eyes open, if you can… but if you can’t, don’t sweat it.  The State Department understands that it’s hard to keep a newborn’s eyes open, and they will accept baby passport photos with eyes closed.
  • Don’t have anything on your baby’s head — no hats, headbands, or hairbows.
  • No pacifiers, toys, parents’ hands, or other objects can be in the photo with the baby.


Visiting the Passport Acceptance Agent

Yes, even babies have to go in person to the Passport Acceptance Facility!  But it’s totally fine if baby sleeps through the whole visit to the Passport Acceptance Agent.


Do you have other questions about passports for newborns? Ask us in the comments, or call us today!