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Having a passport is a must when traveling internationally. As a parent or guardian, you must also apply for a child’s passport if your kids are traveling with you.
While the application form is the same, there are special rules that apply to getting a passport for a minor. Learn more about this process, how much it costs and how long it takes to receive passports for kids.
Do you need a passport for minors?
Yes, a child passport is required for all minors traveling outside of the U.S. Whether your child is a newborn, 17 years old or somewhere in between, they need their own passport. If you have multiple children, each child must have their own passport.
Minors under the age of 12 traveling with eligible adults can use TSA PreCheck security lanes. Children 13 and older can join enrolled adults if the child receives a TSA PreCheck stamp on their boarding pass. However, all travelers must have their own Global Entry membership, even if they’re young children.
» Learn more: Places to travel without a passport this summer
Passport application for minors
The child passport application is Form DS-11, which is the same form that adults use for their passports. This form can be found on the U.S. Department of State website.
You can fill it out online before printing it, or you can print a blank form and complete it by hand. The recommended option is to fill it out online to avoid illegible handwriting or errors.
To complete a child’s passport application, you’ll need the following information:
Complete legal name.
Date of birth.
Place of birth.
Social Security Number.
Phone number and email address.
Permanent and mailing addresses.
Height, eye color and hair color.
School or employer name (if applicable).
List of all other names used.
Previous passport number and issue date (if applicable).
Additionally, when you submit your application, you must bring:
Proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a birth certificate.
Proof of identity of the parent, such as a driver’s license.
A recent color photograph that meets all requirements.
Proof of parental relationship.
Approved payment methods for fees.
All passports for children must be applied for in person and both parents must be present. If one parent has sole custody of the child, one parent is deceased or is otherwise unable to appear, additional paperwork must be completed.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
How much are passports for kids?
The passport application fee for minors depends on how old your child is.
The passport book application fee for children under 16 is discounted to $100 — this is because children’s passports are only valid for five years. Children 16 and older must pay the standard passport book fee of $130. If you’d like a passport card for your child, the fees are $15 and $30, respectively.
In addition to the application fee, there is a $35 acceptance fee. This money goes to the facility where you submit your application for a child’s passport.
» Learn more: Passport book vs. card — 4 key differences
What payment types are accepted for a child’s passport application?
To pay for your child’s passport application, you’ll need to provide either a check (personal, certified, cashier’s or traveler’s) or money order for the fees. Cash or credit cards cannot be used for application fees.
However, you may use cash or credit cards at some facilities to pay the acceptance fee. Contact the acceptance facility ahead of your appointment to confirm which payment methods they accept.
The payments for application fees and acceptance fees are separate and cannot be combined. You must have separate forms of payment for each of the following:
Application fees paid to the U.S. Department of State.
Acceptance fees paid to the acceptance center (library, post office or government center).
How long does it take to get passports for children?
Passport applications are currently backlogged and taking longer than normal. As of this writing, routine processing times are as follows:
Routine processing: Seven to ten weeks.
Expedited processing: Three to five weeks.
Additionally, it may take up to two weeks for passports to arrive by mail after they are printed. With these delays, if you know you want to travel with your kids in the future, it’s a good idea to apply for a passport now, even if you don't have immediate international travel plans.
Expediting a child’s passport application
If you're in a rush, you can pay $60 extra to expedite your child’s passport.
Additionally, expedited shipping is available for $19.53. This option speeds up the mailing of your child’s passport so you receive it faster. You’ll receive your passport one to two days after the U.S. Department of State mails it.
If you have urgent travel plans, it may be possible to get passports for children even faster.
A passport agency or center (which is different than a passport acceptance center) can expedite your passport application if you schedule an appointment within 14 days of your departure date. In emergency situations, you may qualify to get your passport within 72 hours of departure by making an appointment at a passport agency or center.
Tracking application status
It is possible to track the status of your child’s passport application. You’ll need the child’s last name, date of birth and the last four digits of their Social Security Number.
You can receive email updates by submitting this information to the U.S. Passport Application Status page. Note that status updates may not be available during the first two weeks after you’ve submitted a passport application for a minor.
» Learn more: Do you need a passport to book an international flight?
Passports for children recapped
Getting a child’s passport allows them to travel outside of the U.S. and explore the world.
Children use the same passport application as adults, and both parents or guardians must accompany the child to the application appointment.
Minors under 16 years old get a discount on application fees because their passports are only valid for five years. Processing times can take several weeks, but you can pay extra to expedite the delivery of your child’s passport.
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