*The passport fees have recently changed. As of April 2nd, 2018, the passport acceptance fee has gone up from $25 to $35.

All children, no matter how young, need a passport of their own to leave the country by air and in some cases by land and sea.

The procedure for getting a child passport is somewhat different from the procedure for getting an adult passport. Concerns about children being abducted and taken overseas have prompted the Department of State to build safeguards against this practice into the passport application process for minors. Also note that a child passport is only valid for 5 years, compared to an adult passport which is valid for 10 years. Here’s what you need to know to make the child passport application process go as smoothly as possible.

How to Get a Child Passport in Person

All children must apply for their passports in person, even if the child has been issued a passport previously and you wish to renew it. In most cases, you can simply apply at the nearest passport acceptance office, often a post office or library.

Even though you do have to appear at an acceptance office in person, an expediting company like RushMyPassport can still help you get your child’s passport more quickly. The acceptance office will “seal” your documents, then you send them to the expediting company to be processed in as little as 3 business days. Compare that to the Department of State’s typical processing time of 3 weeks for their expedited service, and the advantage is clear!

Also, the Department of State won’t issue a passport for a child under the age of 16 without the consent of both parents. To meet this requirement, both parents must appear in person at the passport office with the child. If both parents can’t be there, you can provide the appropriate document from the list below to demonstrate that the other parent consents to the passport being issued or to show why consent is not needed.


Infographic on 8 steps to apply for a child's passport

Here are the specific steps to apply for a child’s passport:

  1. Fill out passport form DS-111 with your child’s information
  2. Get proof of citizenship for your child, like a birth certificate or previous passport
  3. Document your relationship to the child via birth certificate or adoption decree
  4. Get photo IDs for both parents and make copies
  5. 1 passport photo of your child
  6. If both parents won’t be present, the absent parent must sign for DS-3053 and have it notarized
  7. Bring your child and all paperwork to the passport office
  8. Wait for your child’s passport

What You’ll Need to Bring

Here’s what you’ll need to bring to the passport office:

  • Your child
  • One passport photo of your little darling.
  • Proof of citizenship for your child, such as a birth certificate, naturalization certificate, certificate of citizenship or a previously issued passport.
  • Proof of identity for you and the other parent, such as a driver’s license, state-issued ID card, current military ID, naturalization certificate or current government employee ID.
  • A photocopy of both parents’ IDs.
  • Proof that the child in question is, in fact, your child. This could be a birth certificate for the child listing you as a parent, an adoption decree, or a court order giving you custody or guardianship. If the name you go by now is different from the name on the document you’re using as proof of relationship, you’ll also need legal documents showing why your name changed.
  • If only one parent can make it to the passport office, you’ll need a notarized copy of Form DS-3053, which is a statement of consent from the other parent.
  • If the other parent’s consent cannot be documented, you’ll need to bring one of the following: the other parent’s death certificate; a birth certificate or adoption decree with only your name on it; a court order awarding sole custody of the child to you or specifically permitting you to take the child out of the country; or proof that the other parent has been declared legally incompetent.
  • A completed copy of Form DS-11. It’s okay to fill this out in advance, but don’t sign until the passport agent tells you to.

Child Passport Fees

For a child passport, you’ll pay a total of $100 for a passport book, $15 for a passport card (which is only good for land or sea travel to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean) and an additional $35 execution fee.

Unlike adult passports, which are good for 10 years, child passports are only good for 5 years.

After you apply, it generally takes at least 6-8 weeks for the new passport to make its way to you. Expedited processing is an additional $60, but it still takes at least 3 weeks.

If you need a passport for your child sooner, you can either make an appointment at one of the 24 passport agency offices serving the entire US, or you can use a private passport expediting company like RushMyPassport. Contact us for hassle-free service that gets your child passport application processed in as little 3 business days!