Figuring out the who, what, when and how when it comes to traveling abroad with your children – the 411 on child passports – can be overwhelming.  Here’s for the busy parent looking for quick and easy instructions. We’ve broken it down for you so you can get the appropriate documents to travel when and where you need to with your infant or toddler.

Do babies and toddlers need a passport?  YES. 

Any United States citizen, no matter what age, traveling outside of the United States by air requires a passport. The confusion can be when a minor is traveling by land or sea to Canada or Mexico they can use their birth certificate.  You can get additional information here.

Here is the 411 on child passports:

Passport Application

You must fill out Passport Application Form DS11. You may download it in advance or obtain it from the passport office. Do not sign the application until you are asked to do so in the presence of an Acceptance Agent.

Social Security Card
The passport application requires a Social Security Number.  If you have one, enter this information and bring your child’s Social Security card (and a photo copy) with you to the passport office. If you don’t have one, call the specific passport office you will be visiting in advance to be certain they will accept your application without one.

Birth Certificate
If you plan to travel within the first few months after a child is born, it is wise to put a rush on their birth certificate. Speak to the staff at the hospital or to your midwife (for a home birth) about how to do so. Once your birth certificate is filed and you are awaiting your copy, it is important to call the Registrar of Vital Statistics (the office that issues birth certificates) and additionally let them know that you will need to expedite the issuance of the birth certificate.

Two identical photos must be submitted along with your application.

Make Your Own Copies
Have both originals and copies of:

  • Applicant’s (Child’s) Birth Certificate
  • Social Security Card
  • Mother’s photo ID (front and back)
  • Father’s Photo ID (front and back)
  • Any other additional documents needed for special circumstances (sole custody, Proof of Live Birth, etc.)


Minors Must Apply In Person
Don’t leave your baby at home! He or she must be present at the time of application. They need to take an oath! That seems very silly; but yes, an oath is is taken when anyone applies for a passport (in the case of a baby or toddler who can’t yet speak, it is read and the parents can swear to the oath on his or her behalf; but the person applying must be present for this oath). To find a Passport Acceptance Facility near you, please follow this link.

Both Parents
By law, both parents must be present at the time of application, along with the applicant.  If only one parent has sole legal custody of the minor, then they must provide proof of this, such as: being the only parent named on the child’s birth certificate or an official court order granting sole custody to that parent (original document and photo copy)

Application Fees
To see what fees are associated with obtaining your child’s passport, click here.

Final Checklist
Here’s a final checklist of everything you will want to have with you at the Passport Office.

  • Passport Application Form DS11
  • Birth Certificate
  • Photo copy of birth certificate
  • Social Security Card
  • Photo copy of SSC
  • Mother’s Photo Identification (passport or State ID (must be from the state in which you are applying)
  • Photo copy of Mother’s Photo ID
  • Father’s Photo Identification (passport or State ID (must be from the state in which you are applying)
  • Photo Copy of Father’s ID
  • Application Fees (credit card, money order or personal check made out to the Department Of State)
  • Child Applicant must be present
  • One or Both parents must be present

Processing Times
It takes about 4-6 weeks to receive a passport from the date of application. This can be expedited for an additional fee (see above). If you are using the expedited service, you must prove that you are flying within two weeks by providing your airline tickets or an itinerary issued by the airline or travel service (a print out of an Expedia reservation, for instance, is fine). If you want to expedite, you must call the office in advance to make an appointment. The nationwide number to call is: (877) 487-2778.

Safe travels for you and your child!