Does My Infant Need a Passport?
Planning an international trip with your infant soon? You may be wondering if you will need a passport for your infant to travel and what other rules and regulations you need to be aware of. Here’s what you need to know about travel with a baby, including if you need an infant passport, what rules apply to travel with a newborn or infant, and how you can be prepared.
Do Infants Need a Passport to Travel?
The short answer is yes, if you will be traveling internationally between countries, your infant will most likely need a passport in order to leave your home country and re-enter it. There are some exceptions to the general travel rule, however, such as in traveling from the U.S. to Canada.
Minors under the age of 16 traveling from the U.S. into Canada are not required to have an official passport and only need their birth certificates as official documents to enter and exit the country.
Overall, however, if you are planning traveling outside of your home country with an infant or any child under the age of 16, you will need to plan to obtain a passport for everyone you are traveling with before you go.
Keep in mind that getting a passport can take anywhere between 6–12 weeks, so you will want to ensure that you apply for your passport with plenty of time to spare before your actual travel departure dates.
You don’t want to be stressed about your baby’s passport when chances are you’ll already be stressed enough about traveling with a baby. Although, for the record, traveling with your infant can be a wonderful experience and a little preparation can go a long way.
How to Apply for an Infant Passport
You will need to apply for your infant’s passport in-person; parents and caregivers cannot apply for a passport for an infant over the phone, via mail, or online at this time. As an adult, you may have the option to apply for a new or renewed passport via mail or in some states online, but for infants, you will still have to visit an acceptance facility in your area.
You can search the U.S. Department of State Travel’s website in order to find a passport acceptance facility near you. In many situations, your local post office may also be able to perform passport processing, although you will want to verify before you go.
Some passport processing facilities will also require that you make an appointment ahead of time to apply for a passport, so be sure to check the rules and schedule an appointment if your facility requires it. And, lastly, if you need your infant’s passport very quickly, you will have to visit an expedited passport processing facility and be prepared to pay an additional fee, around $35, to get the passport faster.
The main application for an infant passport is Form DS-11. Form DS-11 has to be filled out in person by all first-time passport applicants, including minors and, in this case, infants. You can actually print out a copy of the PDF version of the form on the U.S. Department of State’s Travel website or use the online form generator to fill it out in your computer browser as well, then print it out. The form is two pages along and fairly straightforward to fill out with your personal information.
If you choose to pre-fill the form out, however, there is one important rule you need to know: you should not sign the application until you are in the office in-person applying for the passport.
If you plan on traveling frequently with your baby, when you apply for the passport, you can also mark the checkbox “52 pages” at the top of the form to request a larger passport with more pages to stamp right from the start.
What to Bring With You
Before your appointment to get your infant a passport, you will want to assemble everything you need to bring with you, because chances are the last thing you want to do is wait in line with your baby to get a passport all over again, right? We get it. So, here’s what you need to bring with you:
- Your baby’s official birth certificate: You will need the official documentation of the birth certificate and, as a safeguard, you may want to bring along a digital back-up and a photocopy of the original as well.
- Proof of U.S. citizenship: If you are traveling fairly soon after your baby’s birth, you may not even have your infant’s official birth certificate yet, so what do you do in that case? In the case that you haven’t received your infant’s birth certificate yet, you can try calling the local county clerk’s office to see if it is possible to expedite the process or if they have any recommendations for a verified form you can get in its stead. If your child does not have a U.S. birth certificate, the forms of Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth or a Certificate of Citizenship are also allowed to be used. In some situations, there are different documents that can be used as proof of citizenship, including family or religious records, such as doctor forms, baptism announcements, or even personal registers. You can also use a prior U.S. passport, if your baby has had one, even if it is expired, as proof of U.S. citizenship.
- Your baby’s social security number: Again, if your baby doesn’t have a Social Security number yet, which can take weeks after birth as well, you can still apply for a passport according to the U.S. Department of State by providing a signed and dated statement that says, “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the following is true and correct: (Child’s full name) has never been issued a Social Security Number by the Social Security Administration.”
- All legal parents: If one of the legal parents is unable to apply in-person for the passport, that parent will be required to fill out an absentee form Form DS-3053, if applicable. If you are the only legal guardian of your child, you will also need to bring documentation proving that fact, such as a birth certificate with only your name on it, or a court order granting sole guardianship. In addition to being physically present, both legal guardians must also bring their own form of proof of identification and citizenship, such as an in-state, fully-valid driver’s license, a valid or expired, undamaged, U.S. passport, a Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship, a Government employee ID, military ID, current foreign passport, or Matricula Consular. In some cases, if neither parent is available to appear with the infant, a third-party may be able to apply for the passport for the infant.
- A passport photo: If your facility allows you to take your own. There are very specific rules surrounding passport photos for infants, however, so your photo will have to meet all the requirements in order to be used. The U.S. Department website advises parents to either place the baby down a plain white sheet for the photo or line a car seat with a white sheet or blanket before taking the photo. The infant should be facing the camera and no one else can be in the photo. You should bring the photo, but don’t staple it or attach it to the passport form application.
- Photocopies of everything: In addition to bringing the original proof of citizenship, you have to bring an 8 x 11, plain black and white photocopy of all of the documents, your own ID included, that you are providing as well. The photocopy stays with the application and while it is officially not required, if you don’t provide it, it will delay the passport processing. If you don’t bring a photocopy, you will also need a secondary proof of U.S. citizenship. No photocopy can be double-sided.
What Comes Next
After you pay your passport fees (the cost is around $95 for normal processing), you will receive the infant’s official passport in the mail. Once you have your passport for your infant and yourself, you can see the world together! Well, for 5 years, that is. Your little one’s passport is only good for 5 years, so you will need to be sure to update it or apply for a new one before your next trip in a few years.
A Word From Tips For Healthy Living
If you will be traveling with an infant out of the country, your baby will most likely need his or her own passport in order to be granted entry in a new country and exit from that country. All infant passports have to be applied for in person, so be sure to plan accordingly before your travel dates. We know that traveling with an infant, especially for the first time and especially to a foreign place, can be stressful for a lot of parents, so with a little extra preparation to ensure your baby has his or her passport, you can help make the travel process as smooth as possible—and help your little one get that first stamp on their passport.