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Passport department still insists they need absent parents consent! Help!

by Gemma

Question: Form DS-3053 has been submitted with passport application but the passport department still insists that they need the absent parent's consent! Help!

I booked a cruise to the Southern Caribbean for myself, my 18-year-old son, my 7-year-old daughter, and my parents. We are scheduled to depart on February 5th of next year but I am having trouble obtaining a passport for my 7-year-old. Her father developed a drug habit and we have not seen or heard from him for several years.

I submitted form DS-3053 explaining the situation but received a letter from the passport office requesting a sworn affidavit from him. I contacted the passport office and received a call back from the person handling the case who simply told me that I do need a sworn affidavit.

I have exhausted all avenues in trying to contact her father. I was never married to her father but his name is listed on her birth certificate. I'm just not sure what I can do at this time.

My only options per the passport office is to have his name removed from her birth certificate or file for full custody which cannot be done before our trip. The cruise is scheduled to depart from Puerto Rico and stops in St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. Lucia, Antigua, and Grenada.

Is there anything that can be done to help my case with the passport office?

Answer: First of all, you must follow the agent's instructions in order to get a passport for your daughter. Either you will have to submit the sworn affidavit or file for full custody. It is unlikely that the courts would permit the removal of the father's name from the birth certificate.

It is possible that our daughter may not require a passport. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Thomas, St. Croix) are United States territories. Americans are not required to present passports when traveling to these locations.

According to information obtained from respective embassy websites, U.S. citizens are required to have 180 days remaining validity on their passports to enter Antigua, 6 months for Grenada and St. Lucia.

However, there is an exception to the passport rule for closed-loop cruises. These are cruises which begin and end in the same location. Passports are not required for travel on a closed-loop cruise.

Note, however, that you should check with the cruise line. Many cruise lines require a valid passport for passengers even though the countries that will be visited do not.

If you are unable to obtain a passport and the cruise line requires one, my recommendation is that you either change the cruise to one that only visits U.S. territories or look for a closed-loop cruise that does not require you obtain a passport for your daughter.

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