Passports for Kids

See also: Passport Photos

Parent Q&A

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  • Passport for our infant daughter

    (12 replies)

    Hi there,

    We're taking our infant daughter (9 months old) on an international trip in the coming months. I'd like to get her a passport before this. Any tips/advice on where to get this done in the Berkeley area? How long does the process take?



    We used the passport office @ the Cal rec center - and while the wait was long they were efficient and it worked well for us!

    I highly recommend the Cal rec center's passport office. You make an appointment, so the wait shouldn't be long. Details here:

    Current wait times for new passports are LONG.  The State Department just announced that expedited service is looking at 7-9 weeks for processing (not including shipping to/from the passport processing centers which are different from the locations where you apply).  So definitely send in soon so you do not have to worry as the trip approaches.  Many city halls have locations that take appointments.  Otherwise, the good ole post office usually works.    

    I have gotten my son’s passport at our local passport office. Make an appointment online, and be prepared to wait even with an appointment. I’ve also been to the one at Cal but it’s been a few years so I don’t know if they do appointments, I just know they are very well run and efficient, but you still have to wait. Get your photos taken correctly and have all the paperwork ready. Also if your trip is coming up I recommend paying for expedited service and also priority mail for mailing. It takes a long time to process a passport. 

    It's difficult to get a passport appointment these days. Many post offices offer this service but you have to book on the usps website and it's just not that easy. I got an appointment yesterday for early May at the UC Berkeley Rec Center on their website. I found that site easier to navigate than the USPS. I believe you can ask for expedited service.

    The UPS store in El Cerrito on San Pablo near Safeway has a nice photo station for infants, for what it's worth. I was just there yesterday.

    We got our infant daughter's passport photo taken at A1 Photo and Video Lab on University and they were helpful at getting the correct photo angle with a baby (which can be challenging!). And then we just made an appointment at the post office that had the soonest appointment--we ended up going to one in Orinda because the Berkeley post offices didn't have appointments for a while. It was pretty easy and they took us right at our appointment time!

    I just filled out and printed the department of state's form (, took a picture of the baby myself (put the baby on a white sheet and snapped a few until I got her head and shoulders in the frame) and sent it in to CVS to be printed, and made an appointment with USPS ( to give in all my materials.

    The part that took the longest was getting the USPS appointment- it was a 2 week wait, I think, but the appointment itself takes 5 minutes. Just note that both parents (if listed on the birth certificate) have to be present at the post office appointment, AND you need to bring in originals and copies of documents (like your ID, partner's ID, birth certificate, etc.). It took a little coordination to find a time that worked and to get all the materials together, but it's fairly straight forward. good luck!

    We also used the cal Rec center. No wait

    for us, super easy, pick a good day and time for low traffic.

    Definitely recommend the passport office at UC Berkeley. Anyone can use, don't need to be affiliated with the school in any way. The appoints open up 30 days in advance, so check each day at 9-9:30AM to book (both parents need to be available for the appt). 

    You can also check out different municipal websites, as some of the East Bay cities offer passport assistance. 

    USPS is a hot mess right now for applying for passports. 

    I did it for my 3 month old at the post office downtown (they do not do photos there). There’s a fed ex down the block that does photos. Or go to the post office in west Oakland - they did both the photo and the application all at once. You can book appointments and fill out the form on the USPS website. 

    My tip is to schedule your appointment with the USPS ASAP. You need to look exactly 30-31 days in advance. Slots with the USPS in the area fill up fast but I believe they open up a month in advance. Both parents need to be present so it can be a challenge to schedule when working around parent’s schedule. We took photo at a CVS and took lots of toys to try to get baby to look at camera. With our other daughter we took the picture at home on a white background. If you DIY you might consider taking a video and then screenshot the best picture. The passport agency is pretty strict on what the picture should look like (look online). Have all forms and documents ready day of your appointment. Make sure picture will be accepted (if you print at CVS they will tell you if your DIY pic will work). You do not want to wait a month for an appointment only to be turned away because of a missing document, signature, fee or an unacceptable picture.  It took about 8 weeks for our daughter’s passport without the expedite fee. Good luck!

    We got an appointment with the passport office at the cal rec center, and came with photos that we took on a white background ourselves and used one of the online sizing tools to make them the right size and to sent prints to us. It is pretty smooth as long as you have all your paperwork together before your appointment. We got our daughter's passport about a month after our appointment. But be advised I think there are a lot of delays at the moment so getting the process going soon is important. I found that the rec center has mid-week appointments and saturday appointments, but they are really booked up when kids are out of school (like spring break). 

  • Expedited infant passport?

    (6 replies)

    Hello! We stupidly booked international flights for July 30 and now find out it is near impossible to get a passport appointment for anyone. 

    Has anyone been able to secure an expedited appointment for an infant or other traveler recently? Talking under 1 month. Thanks!

    When my son (now 14) was a baby, I remember there being a huge backup in passport applications. Some people got help by reaching out to congresswoman Pelosi's office then!

    I have some recent experience on this topic! We went camping up in Humboldt and got a passport appointment in early May, when there was nothing in the bay area open until the end of the month! So if you happen to have the flexibility to drive to a county or two over and take a little trip you may have better luck… I’ve also heard that some people’s post office passport appointments were randomly being canceled. The only non-post office local spot I found was through the city of Oakland, and you can actually get on the phone and talk to somebody. With expedited service the passport will come in 6 to 8 weeks, I believe. Ours came in 5 1/2 weeks. I hope you can get an appointment and apply ASAP! Don’t forget to bring a check and photos, as well as a copy of the birth certificate.

    I'm afraid I do not have good news for you. We just cancelled our 7/4 trip to Costa Rica because our 4-6 week expedited passport for our daughter (a renewal) will not arrive in time. (When we had our post office appointment on 5/17, they were still saying 4-6 weeks for expedited which should have been enough time. Now they are saying 8-12 weeks for expedited.) I think your best bet is to try like hell to get one of the emergency appointments within 72 hours of your trip. There are not very many, so I think you have to be persistent and just keep refreshing to see if someone cancels. It's possible infant appointments are different, but I don't believe they are. Good luck!

    I have the same issue. We applied for the expedited service through USPS and they are telling us that it would take up to 12 weeks. 

    There is also a passport service through FEDEX, which might be faster. 

    San Francisco Passport Agency is the quickest in this area. If you are prepared with photo and other documents you can call each day to fill another appointment cancellation. In normal times we've gotten one same day, with expediting fees.

    A few months ago we got an appointment at the USPS in Orinda. They told us that an expedited passport would take 4-6 weeks. Instead it came in about a week.

  • Where to apply for a child's passport?

    (12 replies)

    My son's passport is expiring soon. Has anyone applied for a child's passport since Covid? Which passport center do you recommend in the East Bay? (Note: We live in Alameda: Has anyone tried the Alameda post office lately? Older reviews say that place is not well run, any more recent experience?) Thanks!

    The Piedmont USPS office was very helpful. We had an appointment there, but they ended up being super busy, called us in advance, and arranged so that we could go instead to the Oakland airport USPS office, which was empty. Both have parking.


    We were told to make an appointment online at You can pick a location that is easy for you (however, not all post offices do it now because of covid etc.). But the site shows which ones do it. Good luck! 

    Alameda City Hall (via the City Clerk) processes passport applications but I'm not sure what the status is with covid.  I would call them.  You'll need the photo.

    We recently used the post office on 41st near Piedmont Ave.  That office doesn't seem too busy (yet), and they kept our appointment time even after directing us to the CVS a couple buildings over for the photo.  We followed all the instructions, had both parents present, and handed over copies and originals of our id.  It was very fast.  The appointment slots all seem to be mid-day only.  The CVS was also very efficient.  Make sure that you have cash or a check for the State Dept portion of the fees.  Of course the current processing time is 10-12 weeks so we have no passport yet for the kiddo but we don't anticipate any problems.

    I'm in Richmond but I went to the Passport dept. at Albany City Hall.  Maybe there is one in the city of Alameda.

    I went to the Alameda post office today with my two young children to apply for their passports. The person that helped us was all business (not a lot of warmth/patience for the children) but they were punctual, efficient and got everything done in less than half an hour. You can make an appointment online. Very easy. 

    We made an appt at the Piedmont Post office. They canceled on us. We made one at a post office in West Oakland on 7th st but there was a long line and it was crowded, so it didn’t feel safe for our covid-high-risk family.

    We ended up making an appt in Tiburon. It was a bit of a drive, but there was very few people, they were fast and effective, and wore their masks. And they have photo services onsite so you don’t have to go elsewhere for that.

    I went to the post office in Orinda because they had immediate appointments and could do the passport photos. Got my kids first passport in a month. Here’s the address. 

    Probably a bit of a trek for you, but I went to the Richmond post office (1025 Nevin Ave)  just this past week to do a passport renewal for my daughter. It was super easy, efficient, and had on site photos available for an additional $15 fee. The only thing is that you need to have an appointment (they don't take walk-ins), but that is easy to do online. 

    I believe there is a passport office at UC Berkeley, which anyone can use.  It's supposed to be a good one. 

    All passport services at UC Berkeley are suspended until further notice due to the shelter in place order. Visit for Acceptance Facilities that are open at this time.

    I used the office at UC Berkeley, but I'm not sure if they are open during COVID. They were very good. I took the photos myself and used an online passport photo sizer to print onto photo paper. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Do I really need a passport for a 6-year-old?

Feb 2009

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 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 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. 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: 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 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:

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!)

Renewing child's passport without one parent

March 2007

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