Did you know there are special requirements for teenager’s passports? Teens age 16 and 17 fall into a special category of passport applicants. At age 16, a teen is eligible for a new adult passport valid for 10 years instead of the minor passport valid 5 years that is issued to children age 15 and younger. However, 16- and 17-year-olds are still not legally adults under US law. They won’t be legally independent until age 18!
Parental Consent for Teenager’s Passports
Until your child’s 16th birthday, getting a US passport requires the specific consent of both parents. You can give your consent for your child’s passport by accompanying your child to the Passport Acceptance Agent. If both parents go in person to the Passport Acceptance Facility, great! If one of you can’t go, you’d have to sign and notarize form DS-3053, the official Statement of Consent.
For teens age 16 and 17, full parental consent is not required. What’s needed instead is called “parental awareness.” 16- and 17- year-olds need to show that their parents know that they have applied for a passport. There are two ways to demonstrate parental awareness for your teenager’s passport request:
- Accompany your teen to the Passport Acceptance Agent.
- Write a letter addressed to “US Department of State, Passport Agency” stating that you wish for your child to be issued a passport. This letter should be signed in ink. Submit a copy of your passport or driver’s license along with the letter.
Under State Department regulations, teens age 16 or 17 only need to show parental awareness from one parent, but in our experience, it’s better to have it from both parents. Some Passport Acceptance Agents are over-cautious and unwilling to execute passport applications from teens unless than have confirmation from both parents.
Identification Requirements for Teen Passport Applicants
When your teen goes to the Passport Acceptance Facility, they will need to show official identification. The following documents can all be used as proof of identity:
- State issued driver’s license
- State issued learner’s permit
- State issued non-driver ID
- Passport book (even if recently expired)
- Passport card (even if expired)
If your teen doesn’t have any of those official IDs, they will need to submit a combination of secondary forms of identification, such as a school ID card, Social Security Card, work ID card, health insurance card, or club membership card.
Passport Renewals for Teens
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a passport renewal for a teenager. Even if your teen has a passport that was issued before he or she turned 16, it can’t be renewed. Instead, the new adult passport process must be used. Only passports that were issued after the applicant turned 16 can be renewed.
The good news is that you’ll only need to go through this once. By the time your teenager’s passport expires, he’ll be well over age 18 and able to get a new passport via the much simpler passport renewal process!