Adopting a child is an incredibly stressful process, especially if you choose to adopt from another country.  Though the reward of giving a child a family is immeasurable, international adoption often requires an intense commitment in the form of time, energy and money.  You’ll also need to pay extra-special attention to your new child’s citizenship status and the associated paperwork. When it comes time to get your child a US passport, additional documentation is often required. Here’s what you need to avoid delays and added frustration when getting a passport for a child adopted overseas:


To qualify for a US passport, the child must be a US citizen. Fortunately, since 2001, children adopted overseas by US citizen parents automatically become citizens, saving adoptive parents time and energy. However, there may still be a few loose ends for you to tie up. If your child’s adoption was finalized in their home country, and you brought them to the US on an IH-3 visa, your child will automatically become a US citizen when you enter the United States, and you will be automatically sent Certificate of Citizenship. This is proof that your child is a US citizen and can be used when applying for their passport.

One the other hand,  if the child came in on an IH-4 visa and the adoption needs to be finalized in the United States, your child will only automatically be issued a green card when you arrive in the US.  After the adoption has been finalized, your child will automatically become a US citizen, but if you want a certificate of citizenship you will have to apply for one (this is handy but is not required).

Documents Needed

Before you apply, gather all of the necessary documents:

  • Proof of identity for both adoptive parents, such as a driver’s license or other state-issued photo ID.
  • Proof of your relationship to the child- in this case, the adoption decree.
  • Proof of the child’s citizenship. If you have a certificate of citizenship for your child, that will do.  Otherwise, you’ll need to show the paper trail by which your child became a citizen, including: a certified copy of the final adoption decree (translated if the original isn’t in English); the child’s passport from their country of origin, showing  the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security (USCIS) I-551 stamp in the passport; proof of your identity as per above and proof of your US citizenship.
  • Parental consent: If the child was adopted by two US citizen parents, both parents have to consent for the passport to be issued. To prove parental consent, either both parents must appear in person or one parent must appear with a signed, notarized consent form signed by the other parent (passport forms available here).
  • One passport photo.
  • The applicable passport fees.

Please note that in some cases the Department of State may ask for additional documentation after you’ve submitted your child’s application, so it pays to apply in advance.

Where to Apply

If you can wait three weeks or more for the passport to arrive, you can apply at any passport acceptance facility (like a post office or a library). You’ll get your passport in approximately six weeks if you apply with regular processing, and about three weeks if you pay an additional $60 to expedite it.

If you need faster service, you can either use a private expediting company like RushMyPassport or make an appointment at one of the nation’s 24 regional passport agency offices.  If you apply using a private company, you generally won’t have to make an appointment or wait in line, and you can use the magic of express shipping to avoid a possibly expensive and time-consuming trip to the nearest regional passport agency (which might not be very close, considering there are only 24 of them in the country).

Plus, at RushMyPassport, we’ll simplify the application process for you by walking you through the paperwork step-by-step. Then, we’ll hand-deliver your application package to the Department of State for processing in as little as 24 hours!

For quick, convenient passport help, contact us today!