One question that keeps coming up again and again in the comments section is this: “Do babies need passports of their own?” It’s not necessarily an unreasonable question– after all, they don’t necessarily need their own plane tickets, so why would they need their own ID?
Alas, in most countries the era of the “family passport” has long since passed. Even the smallest infants now require their own documents for most international travel. Let’s take a look at the question in a little bit more depth:
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) governs travel between the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Within these areas, your baby may be able to travel passport-free as long as you are not flying. Here are the applicable rules:
- All air travel requires a passport, no matter how young your baby is.
- For land or sea travel, adults should have a passport, a passport card, or another WHTI-compliant ID like a NEXUS card, FAST card, SENTRI card or an enhanced driver’s license (offered in a limited number of states at this time.)
- Babies (and any other children under the age of 16) traveling by land or sea may do so with just a birth certificate.
- US citizens of any age traveling on a closed-loop cruise (one that begins and ends at the same US port) may cruise with just state-issued ID (if adults) and a birth certificate.
Outside the Western Hemisphere
If you are going outside of the Western Hemisphere, your baby needs a passport no matter what your mode of travel.
Also, when taking your baby to any foreign country, if you aren’t traveling with the other parent, you may need a signed, notarized letter granting permission for the trip. Some countries require this as a safeguard to prevent child abduction. Contact the embassy of your destination country for details.
Now that you know whether or not you need a passport for your baby, here’s How to Get a Child Passport.
Bear in mind that your child’s new passport may take six weeks to come in if you apply with regular processing. Pay an additional $60 for expedited processing, and you’re still looking at 3 weeks processing time. For faster service, either make an appointment at one of the nation’s 24 regional passport agencies, or use a private company like RushMyPassport. We personally deliver your child’s paperwork to the Department of State for processing in as little as 24 hours. Plus, there’s no need to make an appointment or wait in line at a passport agency with a fussy infant.
For help getting your child a passport quickly, contact us today!