How to Get a Passport for a Minor Under 16
Obtaining a U.S. passport for your child will require slightly more work than it will take to get one for yourself. To start, both parents or guardians must be present when applying for the passport, except in certain circumstances that will be explained below. Every U.S. citizen needs a passport to enter and leave foreign countries, so even your infant will need to complete the following steps, which cannot be done by mail for first time applicants.
The first step is completing application form DS-11, which may be done either in writing or online. The requested personal information includes your child’s full name, date and place of birth, gender, phone number, travel plans and an emergency contact. Next, you must gather supporting documents to be presented at the time you submit the application at a passport office. You will be required to show: evidence of your child’s U.S. citizenship; proof of the parents’ or guardians’ relationship to the child; a photo ID of the parents/guardians or the child; a photocopy of identification documents; and one passport photo of your child.
Evidence of U.S. citizenship may be demonstrated by: a previously issued, undamaged passport; a certified birth certificate issued by the city, county or state; a consular report of birth abroad or certification of birth; a naturalization certificate; or a certificate of citizenship. To obtain certified copies, contact the registrar’s office of the state where your child was born, and be sure to get the “long form”. Evidence of parental relationship may be demonstrated by: the child’s U.S. birth certificate; foreign birth certificate; adoption decree; divorce/custody decree; or consular report of birth abroad of a U.S. citizen. The parent(s) or guardian(s) applying for the child’s passport must submit photo ID if the child does not have one, an undamaged passport or valid driver’s license will suffice.
If one parent/guardian is unable to appear, the DS-11 application must be accompanied by a signed, notarized form DS-3035: statement of consent from the non-applying parent/guardian. If one parent/guardian is absent and cannot be located, the applying parent must submit form DS-5525: statement of exigent/special family circumstances. The statement must explain in detail the non-applying parent/guardian’s unavailability and the recent efforts made by the applying parent to contact the unavailable party. The applying parent may also be required to provide evidence to document his/her claim of exigent or special circumstances. Evidence may be in the form of a custody order, incarceration order, or restraining order, for example. To protect against international parental child abduction, the Passport Agency processing the application may ask for additional details if the statement is determined to be insufficient.
If the minor has only one parent/guardian, evidence of sole authority to apply for the minor must be submitted with the application. Evidence may include: a U.S. or foreign birth certificate, consular report of birth abroad, or adoption decree, listing only the applying parent; a court order granting sole legal custody to the applying parent; a court order specifically permitting applying parent’s travel with the child; a judicial declaration of incompetence of the non-applying parent; or the death certificate of the non-applying parent.
If you are a parent or guardian and find yourself in need of obtaining a passport for your minor child, particularly if needed during the course of a divorce or paternity proceedings, please contact one our outstanding attorneys at The Orlando Law Group, P.L.
Author: Jeffrey W. Smith, The Orlando Law Group
Jeffrey W. Smith is an attorney for The Orlando Law Group. His practice focuses on veteran appeals, family law, and civil litigation. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, serving in Operation Desert Storm in the Middle East and Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. Jeffrey lives in Oviedo with his family.