You have the stroller, the car seat, and the crib. You’ve stocked up on diapers, wipes, and onesies. You might have all the gear for your baby, but if you enjoy traveling, you could be missing a crucial item that they’ll need too. Before you can travel with your tot on cheap international flights to destinations around the world, you have to get a passport for the little guy or gal.

Obtaining that passport for your baby is no walk in the park. Without proper preparation, you might be turned away because you forgot the right form or the passport photo you took features all of your child’s stuffed animals. We have broken down the process for getting a baby passport for your tot so that the whole family can see the world together without international incident.

Apply in Person

Proud mother and father smiling at their newborn baby daughter

While you might be accustomed to applying for your own passport through the mail, a passport for a baby is a little different. Babies, or anyone under 16 years of age, have to apply in person and not through the mail. You’ll need to find the closest passport acceptance facility to your home and apply in person with your baby. Once you find a passport acceptance facility, check to see if you need an appointment before just showing up with your baby. Some require appointments while others do not.

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Assemble the Necessary Paperwork

parenst filling out paperwork with baby

Most of applying for your baby’s passport boils down to having the right paperwork in hand. You’ll have to fill out the U.S. government’s Form DS-11. This form must be signed in the presence of the passport agent so don’t sign it at home. You’ll also need to show your child’s proof of U.S. citizenship. In general, this means requesting a certified copy of the birth certificate from your Vital Records office after your baby is born. You can’t just photocopy their birth certificate. It must be a certified copy. In addition to having the certified copy of the birth certificate, you’ll also need photocopies of parental IDs to present to the passport agent along with the actual IDs to show in person.

Figure Out Parental Requirements

Parental Permission Form Consent Endorsement Concept

If you want to get a passport for your baby, the easiest way is to bring both parents to the appointment. By having both parents present, you can easily show parental consent, which authorizes that the child’s passport can be issued. In the case where both parents can’t be present, you can fill out a statement of consent form instead and have it notarized. In other circumstances where only one parent can be present, or you’re a single parent, there are respective steps you can take to obtain your baby’s passport outlined on the U.S. Department of State website.

Take Your Baby’s Passport Photo

igh angle shot of happy mother taking picture her baby boy in bed with smart phone at home.

Your baby’s passport photo must fit the standard passport photo size of 2 inches by 2 inches, printed on matte or glossy photo paper, and feature your baby’s full face. Getting a photo of your newborn or just your 10-month-old can be a challenge, but in general, you’ll just need to position your baby on a white blanket or sheet. You don’t need to prop up their head up as no one else can be in the photo. When you take your baby’s passport photo, be sure that there aren’t shadows cast over their face. Also, don’t use pacifiers or anything that can obstruct your baby’s face. In order to get the best photo that won’t be rejected by the passport office, try to pick your baby’s best time of day for the photo —  when they are awake and alert but not mid-tantrum!

Pay Up

woman writing a check

When you go to apply for your baby’s passport, don’t forget your checkbook. You’ll have to pay two separate fees. There’s an $80 application fee and a $35 execution fee. Both fees can be paid together in person when you bring in your baby and your application.

Don’t Forget to Renew

Passport and American flag

You’ve gone through all the paperwork. You’ve appeared with your baby in person at the passport acceptance facility. You’ve obtained your baby’s passport and even traveled with that passport for a few years. Sadly, it will seem like you’ll have to repeat the entire process all over again as passports for children under the age of 16 are only valid for 5 years. And often, that isn’t a full five years too. If you’re looking up cheap international flights for a trip with your child and their passport is expiring in less than six months from your trip return date, you’ll need to renew it before you go.

Have you obtained a passport for your tot? What surprised you about the process? Share with us in the comments below!

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About The Author

Suzy Guese

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at http://suzyguese.com.