What are the Steps to Get a Minor Passport For My Kid?

October 1, 2023 | Posted By: Editor
A father holding his daughter, his and a child passport.

Every person in the United States, whether young or old, needs a passport to leave the country. Even newborn babies require a passport to go abroad! However, those above 16 years of age receive adult passports. So, to get a minor passport read this article.

The process to acquire one for a child under the age of 16 is different than the process for an adult. All children under 16 years of age, must apply for a passport in person (not by mail), with a legal guardian by their side. This can occur at a passport agency or an authorized passport acceptance facility, such as a post office. Children’s passports cannot be renewed and are only valid for five years (adult passports are valid for ten years). So, your child passport expires, you should apply like you did the first time. If your child 16th birthday is in a few months, it is better to wait until he or she celebrate it before you reapply.

Children ages 16 and 17 applying for a passport can do it by themselves if they have their identification documents.  A legal guardian will need to provide a signed statement saying they are aware that their child is seeking a passport, or they can attend the appointment with them.

Below is a list of steps to take to obtain a US passport for a minor under 16 and make the process for manageable for the adult(s) in charge.

Gather Your Documents

Before filling out the actual application, be sure to collect a few things for the process to go smoothly. Proof of the child’s US citizenship is first and foremost. Evidence of US citizenship can be:

  • A previously issued, undamaged US passport
  • An ORIGINAL copy of their birth certificate issued by the city, county, or state (photocopies will not suffice!)
  • A naturalization certificate
  • Certificate of Citizenship

The parent(s) or legal guardian(s) who are applying for the child’s passport must also present documentation of a relationship with the child. Evidence of parental involvement can be:

  • US birth certificate (moreover fulfills the requirement of the child’s proof of citizenship)
  • Foreign birth certificate
  • Adoption decree
  • Divorce/ Custody decree
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a United States Citizen (FS-240)

Parents should show proof of identification, so come with a driver’s license, or a valid passport, certificate of naturalization or citizenship, a US military or US government employee I.D. Also, provide a photocopy of each identification document with the application. The copy must be on plain white paper that is 8 1/2 x 11″ in size. Images can only be on one side of the paper.

If the child only has one parent, he/she must show evidence of sole authority:

  • Court order granting sole legal custody to the applying parent (unless the child has a restriction to travel)
  • The court order expressly permitting applying parent’s trip with the child
  • Judicial declaration of incompetence of the non-applying parent
  • Death certificate of the non-applying parent

For other particular circumstances, a signed and notarized statement of consent from the parent via a DS-3053 form is needed if one parent is only able to appear. If the absent parent is unavailable, the applying must complete DS-5255 form.

Complete Application Form DS-11

Once you have all the necessary documents and evidence, you can print out and begin the application process by completing a DS-11 form, which is available online. After downloading and printing, you can fill in the application offline. Applicants should write legibly in black ink. The application should NOT be signed until an acceptance agent asks you to do so.

Provide a Passport Photo

A passport photo that is 2×2 inches in size and was taken within the last six months must be submitted for each child. Do not attach your photo to the form before sending it to the acceptance agent. Some passport acceptance facilities may also provide photo services for an additional fee. 

Apply in Person at the Application Acceptance Facility

Once Application Form DS-11 completed and all of your necessary documents are together, contact the nearest application acceptance facility and make an appointment to come in. There are roughly 9,000 passport offices in the United States. Most of them are located in post offices!

Wait to sign the DS-11 in their presence of the passport officer. When submitting the DS-11 form in person, a $105 fee will be charged, which includes the application and execution cost for the passport.  If you need a passport sooner, you can pay a $60 expedited service fee to receive a passport in two to three weeks. Please allow 7 to 10 weeks for the passport to be processed if you choose not to expedite.