Passports for Kids
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Hi, We will be traveling to Europe (Denmark primarily) this summer when my son is 6 years old. I've just gone to the US Passport website and it looks like a crazy annoying process (both parents must be present!) to get a passport, lots of paperwork and hassle. It also looks like it's possible to just have a birth certificate for him (i.e. no passport needed for children under 16 years), although it also looks like there are some new regulations coming up in June 2009 that might affect things.
Any advice out there from international travelers with children? We do plan to travel internationally a fair amount in the next 10 years, so I'm just wondering if we should bite the bullet and go through the passport process (but then do we have to change the photo at regular intervals, since he'll look quite different as a 15 year old I'm sure) or go with the easy method. I really don't want any hassles at airports, so whatever will minimize that possibility would be best for us. Ready to blow this popsicle stand
Getting a passport is no big deal. You are making way more of it than it is. Just go to the passport office at the downtown berkeley post office. Pick up the form and instructions. When you come back (yes with both parents) you give them the filled out form, birth certificate and photos. No big deal. I met my husband there and it took us 15 minutes. We had the passport in a week or so. Not sure why you are so freaked out by this
We have travelled overseas several times, with one US and one Australian child. Our daughter got her first passport at two weeks! On the US passport website it says ''All children regardless of age, including newborns and infants, must have their own passport''. Birth certificates are not valid - they won't let you travel if you don't have a passport when you go to the airport. The passport process is actually not bad at all. You fill out one form (a couple of pages), get photographs taken, pay a fee and visit the passport office (there's one at UC Berkeley RSF center, and one at the downtown Berkeley US post office) - the interview took about five minutes. It's true that they require both parents to be present, OR, if only one parent presents, the other one can provide a notarized letter of consent. Also note that passport for minors (under 16) are only valid for 5 years - the one bonus is that they cost less than a regular 10 year one! All that info is listed at the website http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/minors/minors_834.html Happy Travels! Penny Boys
To travel to Denmark your child will definitely need to have a passport -- a birth certificate is not enough. You can apply for a passport at many post offices and it's not an onerous process. If both parents cannot be present to apply together with the child, one parent can fill out form DS 3053 and have it notarized. The website http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/minors/minors_834.html states the process clearly. This website also has a link to find a post office near you which processes passports. A child's passport is good for five years and the photograph is kept the same for that period of time. Make sure you leave lots of time for processing -- while my daughter's passport was processed in just a few weeks last year, it can take longer. traveler
YES GET A PASSPORT!!! Trust me the time spent getting a passport will be much less than the time spent on the drama of not having one. In fact, both parents don't have to be present, you can have your spouse write a letter permitting you to apply and obtain the passport for your child and have it notarized, the passport agency will accept that. Have fun and be safe! sevgi
dont' believe everything you hear -- it's my understanding that everyone needs a passport to travel now. YOu'd be better off just biting the bullet and doing it. What if you get somewhere that insists your kid have a passport? You can't expect other places to be reasonable because the state department's site may have suggested your kid doesn't need one. I took my 10 month old to Australia years ago and got her a passport. It really wasn't THAT bad. The worst of it was waiting in line at the County offices to get it so you should plan to get there first thing in the morning. You'll need to renew it every five years until the child is over 16. You'll have more hassles NOT having a passport, in my opinion. Just get it out of the way. Kerie
We travel abroad a lot. The process is not so complicated. We do not go to the passport office. We follow the instructions that allow both parents to go into their local city offices and see someone. I go to Albany city, though we do not live there, there is never a line and it never takes more than 5 minutes. Also you do not need an appointment and everyone seems to know exactly what to do. Just make sure you have your I.Ds and pictures, money etc. Childrens passports are only valid for 5 years (at least the 4 times I have had to get them, that was the case). You can pay extra for rush or standard rate for 6 week delivery. I have always opted for 6 weeks and had passports in a month. You get a tracking number and web site so you can track whats going on. Anon
Your 6-year-old absolutely MUST have a passport to go to Denmark. Absolutely, positively. You will be denied boarding at the airport if you don't have one. I work in the travel industry and travel extensively with my children, so I promise, I know what I am talking about. Yes, getting the passport is a hassle, but the reason for the regulations is a valid one - it's to prevent one parent from getting a passport and taking the child out of the country without the knowledge or permission of the other parent. Please try to keep this in mind as you deal with the hassle - think of the children it's designed to protect. emma
Bite the bullet and get the passport. International travel is hard enough without playing games at the airport. We were able to do this for our two kids on a Saturday. There was a special session at the Oakland post office near the airport. We had all of the paperwork done, money ready and pictures ready...then got there about 30 mins before the doors opened...and it wasn't all that bad. I think we were 2nd or 3rd in line. Once you get the passport, then you can just renew in future years by sending it back in with the fee and a new picture. I can't remember how long they last for little kids...either 3 or 5 years. Nikki
Get the passport. It actually is easy. Fill out the application on-line, print it out, don't sign it until you get to the post-office. Bring your checkbook for the fees, your spouse, and a photo ID. Get a copy of your child's birth certificate and two passport photos. The website also lets you search for your local post office that takes passport applications. Some post offices require an appointment others are just walk in during certain hours. At the post office it only takes a few minutes to sign and complete the process. Children's passports expire every 5 years, but renewing is much easier. You just fill out the renewal form on-line, print it out, sign. Get 2 new passport photos, write out the check and send it off in the mail. Both of my kids have their passports. crystal
Get the passport! It's easy. Here's what I did: print out application form online. Photo taken at AG Photo (near corner of Claremont and College, across from Shell Station). Then go to the passport office. This can be the hard part - the website indicated that a couple of post offices near my home accepted applications on weekends, but that info turned out to be incorrect as the surly postal workers gleefully informed me after my husband and I waited in long lines. We ended up going to the passport office at UC Berkeley, which is near the gym. Longer drive from our house but otherwise painless. Staffed by a non-surly student. No line. A few weeks later, passport arrived in the mail. I think we paid extra for 'rush' service and got it very quickly, although the student thought it would not be necessary and it probably would not have been. Fran
You mis-read the website. http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/minors/minors_834.html It clearly states: Minors under age 16 must apply in person All children regardless of age, including newborns and infants, must have their own passport There is no ''easy'' way. It's the post 9-11 world, post international kidnappings, post messy divorces, etc. Ellen
I just applied for a passport for my 6 year old and it was very easy. Your child needs a passport to go to Europe and it must be renewed every 5 years. Here's what I did: The ALBANY CITY CLERK is located at 405 KAINS AVENUE and is open from 8:30-6:30 on Mondays. There are other passport offices in other cities, but this one was open latest...but only on Mondays (call for additional hours 528-5710). You will need to bring the following with you: the child checkbook both parent's driver's licenses (and both parents) 2 passport photos child's birth certificate (certified copy) child's old passport (if they have one) form DS-11: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/79955.pdf Happy Travels Signed: jk
We got a passport for our (then) five month old this past summer since we were considering going to Canada for vacation. It was not a big deal. We got the forms on line, then went to the RSF (Recreational Sports Facility) on the U.C. Berkeley Campus for pictures and to turn the forms in. Yes, both parents had to be there, but they are open for a few hours on Saturday (or at least they were then..call to check the hours), so it wasn't a problem. It's certainly worth an hour or two of work to have a passport if you are going to do all the traveling you mentioned. mom of passport-bearing baby
I'm pretty sure you must have a passport for your child. We got ours at the Piedmont Post Office on a Saturday morning -- be the first there to avoid a long line. Going on Saturday makes the both-parents-must-be-present rule a little easier. Children's passports are only good for 5 years, because of the photo going out of date. You cannot change the photo on an existing passport. We had lots of immigration people give us a good laugh when they saw our kids at ages 3 or 4 or 5 for example, while comparing to a photo of a fat-faced baby! - international traveler with kids
Get the passport by all means! We got one for our daughter at age 5 when she began traveling to Japan several times each year. I believe it was good for 10 years despite the picture on it. We just got her a new one at age 15 and she got a new picture. You need one now for Mexico and Canada as well and while a birth certificate may be acceptable in some instances you are asking for trouble. I also found both parents do not have to be present if you have a notarized statement from the parent that does not appear with the child. The Berkeley main post office across from the YMCA has a passport office and they are pros at dealing with kid's passports all the time so we go there. Just do it and be done with it for 10 years. It is also a super nice keepsake as it documents your child's life of travel from age 6 on! anon
The process is not complicated at all - fill out the form according to instructions, have an original birth certificate available and go together with your spouse to a postal office or government center where to file it. Postal offices can take the picture as well. There are reasons for asking both parents to be present - making sure one parent does not secretly get the passport and take the child abroad without the other parent's consent. It will have an expiration date of 5 years or so, so do not worry about the picture getting outdated. It is only reasonable to think that since you will be doing a lot international traveling a passport would be needed for your son. If your child will be traveling with one parent only make sure you have a consent letter from the other parent. Google ''consent letter for traveling abroad'' and you will get a lot of examples. z
The passport process is really easy. There's just one paper, which they have there and you fill it out in the office. You have to take your kid to get 2 passport photos (go to a photo store), bring 2 copies of the birth certificate, and yes, both parents have to be present, which is a hassle, but it's pretty painless. We did it last year, and went to the Berkeley post office and were in and out in 30 minutes, including standing in the P.O. line to get the money order to pay for the passport. Granted, we went in the middle of the day, which is easy, although I'm sure weekends are pretty crowded. When our 4 year old was born and we lived in SF, we went to City Hall, and again, very easy and quick. At this age, the passport lasts for 5 years. I think it's really good to have a passport handy at all times for everyone - you just never know when you might need it, and it's a good, easy form of id that we bring for domestic travel for the kids as well. Good luck! Ready to travel!
Oh geez, it's really not that complicated! And yes, you need one to go anywhere outside of the US now. We just did it 2 weeks ago for our 10 year old son. Go here: http://travel.state.gov/passport/forms/ds11/ds11_842.html
Fill out the application online and then print 2 copies of it (just in case one gets messed up somehow), DON'T SIGN IT (you do that in person when you go to submit it).
Take your checkbook, your husband/partner, both of you bring your drivers licenses with you, your son's birth certificate, and go to a post office that processes these things. We went to the one on 41st st in Oakland just off Piedmont Ave - it's open for passport applications on Saturday mornings. Took a half hour max. They have a camera there to take photos of your child so you don't have to worry about it.
Children's passports are good for 5 years because they grow and change so you have to renew in 5 years. Seriously - it's easier than doing taxes!
(Editor Note: many more responses were received that repeated the information above!)
I want to apply for a passport renewal for my child, but I have been unable to locate the father for some time. The father is on the birth certificate and there is no legal custody arrangement, so technically I need either for him to sign the form or I can fill in the form explaining that I can't reach him. My question is: has anyone had success (or failure) in filling out the explanation box? I'm just not sure what I'm supposed to write. Not planning to travel, but just keeping all the ducks in a row
If you can't reach the father, have you thought about filing for sole custody? I am not sure about the legal ramifications, but think it might be wise. Good luck
I just got my son's passport last week, so I am fresh to this answer! My son's father lives in Germany and we have no idea where. I just filled out his name on the form and then on a seperate piece of paper, I typed a short but sweet letter stating that his father (whose name is on the birth certificate, but my son has my last name) was not in our lives nor does he support us in any way and that I have been the provider for my child 100% since his birth.
I then went and had it notarized, just in case. I processed my application at the Berkeley post office, they were really nice and helpful. Note, pics at the post office are $15, and they can be easily done at home against a light (white) background. I spent $30 for a job I could have easily done for free at home. Just a little money saving tip from one single mom to another! Traveling Single Mom