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How to Apply for a U.S. Passport for Minors: Application Process, Required Documents, Forms, Fees, and Renewal

Updated: May 18

There are five main steps to apply for a passport for minors in the United States.


  • First thing, obtain the minor's birth certificate.

  • Second, fill out the DS-11 form (child passport application form).

  • Third, gather the necessary documents for the minor's passport application.

  • Fourth, obtain a photo of the minor.

  • Finally, apply and track passport application progress.


I will share all the paperwork, forms, fees, and documents needed for a passport application for minors. Please note that passports for minors under the age of 16 are only valid for five years.


All children under the age of 16 must apply for a passport in person with two parents or guardians using Form DS-11.



Table of Contents: Passport Application for Minors


Passport Application for Minors

You need a passport for minors, an essential travel document that serves as proof of identity and citizenship. It becomes particularly important for various reasons, such as international travel with parents, studying abroad, or attending family events overseas.


There could be several other reasons why obtaining a passport for a minor is necessary, so it's advisable to get it as soon as you find the time.


In the United States, acquiring a passport for minors is a straightforward process, and this blog will help make it simpler for you. I have personally gone through this process, having obtained the passport for my son when he was just a few months old.



Obtain a Birth Certificate

Before applying for a minor's passport, ensure that you obtain the birth certificate from the county office or state where the child was born.


This process is typically straightforward; in my case, everything was arranged at the hospital, and I was instructed to collect the birth certificate from the county office within 2 to 3 weeks. If you are a California resident, you can also apply for it through this link. For others, please visit this.


An authorized and certified birth certificate is generally accepted as a valid document for various legal purposes, including travel, passport applications, proof of citizenship, social security, driver's licenses, school registration, personal identification, and more. Image credit: Wikipedia


Minors birth certificate example

Passport Application Form for Minors

The passport application DS-11 form is available online; you need to download, print, and then fill it out by hand. You can also fill out the form by 'Form Filler Tool' available on the DOS website.


Follow this link to download the latest copy of the form. Please do not sign the form until instructed by the accepting agent. Provide accurate information when filling out the form. Detailed instructions for minor passports for those under 16 can be found at this link.



Documents Needed for Minor Passport

Next, let's discuss the documents needed for a passport application for minors. Before applying, ensure that you have the following required documents and paperwork ready.


  • Minors Passport Application Form: Completed DS-11 form from the previous step.


  • Proof of Parental Relationship and Minor's U.S. Citizenship: Birth certificate, adoption decree, divorce/custody decree, and the child's SSN.


  • Documents for Parents: Evidence of your immigration status or U.S. citizenship/passport, government-issued state ID or driver's license, permanent residency card or green card, etc.


  • Payment for the Passport Fee: Remember to bring your checkbook. Different fees apply based on the processing time of the passport, as shown in the screenshot below. The expedited option incurs additional fees, and the processing time varies. The issuing agency will provide the exact days/backlog and the associated fees. We received the passport in 6 weeks.


  • Minors Photograph for the Passport: This has been discussed in the next section.


Be sure to take printouts of these copies as you may be required to submit photocopies.



passport fee check example

Absent Parent Passport Form

While both parents should visit the passport facility together, I understand that individual situations vary. In our case, both of us attended together, and for most of you, I believe it will be the same, allowing you to skip this step.


How to get a child's passport with one parent absent?

If one parent is unable to attend, the applying parent must demonstrate sole legal custody or obtain consent from the absent parent.


This requires a notarized Form DS-3053: Statement of Consent from the absent parent or legal custody documents confirming sole legal custody. You can download DS-3053 here.



absent parent passport form

Minor Passport Photo Requirements

You have the option to take the newborn passport photo yourself or at a studio. If you are taking the photo yourself, please keep these infant passport photo requirements in mind:


  • The photo should be in color, not black and white.

  • Do not use any filters or special effects; the image should be clear and focused.

  • The photo should not be older than 6 months.

  • The background should be white or off-white.

  • Avoid dressing in white.

  • Remove any head coverings or glasses.

  • Ensure that both ears are visible.


Some passport facilities may also provide this service for an additional charge. We had newborn photographs taken at the passport facility. You can locate the passport facilities in your zip code here.


In any case, please do not staple the photo to the DS-11 form. Instead, take the photo with you and show it to the agent at the passport facility. They will assess if the photo is correct and staple it there. I opted to have my newborn's photo taken at the passport facility.



Submit and Track Child Passport Application

Take the completed DS-11 form, required documents, and payment to a passport acceptance facility or passport agency, which you can locate using the zip code mentioned in the previous section. Passport acceptance facilities are typically found in post offices, libraries, and courthouses.


Some facilities may require an appointment, so it's advisable to check in advance. During your visit, a passport acceptance agent will review the application and documents, administer an oath to the applying parent(s) or guardian(s), and ask you to sign the DS-11 form.


You can subscribe to email updates for your child's passport application here.



Receive the Passport

After applying for a minor's passport, the process of issuance begins. Once the application is processed, the passport will be printed and mailed to the address provided on the application.


Upon receiving the passport, carefully review all the details, including the spelling of the minor's name, date of birth, place of birth, and other relevant information.


Additionally, sign the passport following the instructions provided.



Minor Passport Renewal

Passports for children under age 16 are only valid for 5 years and cannot be renewed using Form DS-82. To renew a passport for a child under age 16, you must reapply in person using Form DS-11, like how we did the new passport.



Conclusion

In summary, applying for a passport for a minor involves gathering the necessary documents, completing the DS-11 form, submitting the application and payment to a passport acceptance facility, tracking the application's status, and finally, receiving the passport.


Following these steps ensures a smooth and stress-free process. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section below—I'll do my best to assist you.




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