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Would it be advisable to wait until a 15 year old turns 16 to get her passport?

Question: My daughter turns 16 in April. She will be traveling to Europe on a school trip in June. Specifically, we would like to know whether it is advisable to take the extra steps to get a passport for our daughter when she is 15 or wait until she is 16, which will give us less than 6 weeks to get the passport prior to her departure.


Answer: Whether age 15 or 16, your daughter must appear at an application acceptance facility and submit Form DS-11 and all supporting documents. The differences are listed below.

1. At 15, both parents or legal guardians must appear with your daughter and submit both evidence of relationship and valid IDs. At 16, your daughter only needs to appear with one parent.

2. A passport issued to an applicant age 15 is valid for 5 years while one issued to someone age 16 is valid for 10 years.

3. A passport issued to an applicant age 15 must be renewed in person when it expires. A passport issued to an applicant age 16 or older can be renewed by mail as long as all other criteria are met.

4. The application fee for a passport issued to an applicant age 15 is $80. The application fee for an applicant age 16 is $110. The execution fee is the same for both.

If you do wait until after your daughter turns 16, it is likely that you will be required to request expedited passport service in order to get her travel document in time for her trip. Currently, the fee is $60.

You can now compare the differences in passport requirements for a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old and decide which is the best option for your situation.

Comments for Would it be advisable to wait until a 15 year old turns 16 to get her passport?

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One Year Difference?
by: Anonymous

Question: What is the significance of one year? Why the huge differential of rules and guidelines between 15 and 16 years of age? I could understand the difference between 17 and 18, whereby 18 is a legal adult but 15 and 16? Makes absolutely no sense. Some explanation would be highly appreciated.

Answer: Passports issued to minors age 15 or younger are valid for only 5 years from the date of issue while those issued to applicants age 16 or older are valid for 10 years from the date of issue. The reason being that the physical appearance of minors age 15 or younger far more than those age 16 or older. This allows a passport to be issued with a photo that more closely resembles the bearer.

While minors age 16 and 17 are not considered adults by law, they are granted the right to do certain things that minors age 15 or younger cannot do, sometimes with restrictions. For example, most states set age 16 as the age at which an individual can obtain a driver's license.

Age 16 is the basic minimum age for employment with unrestricted hours (unless restricted by state law).

Most airlines do not offer unaccompanied minor services for children over 15 years old. While minors age 16 and 17 are not legally considered adults, they do not need to be accompanied on international flights.

Passport Services does not believe that minors age 16 and 17 need to be accompanied by parents to apply for passports. However, parental awareness by at least one parent is required.

15 or 16
by: Anonymous

Question: My son has a passport that expires 11/14/2016. He is 15. So, are you saying that I can renew his passport and it will be good until 11/14/2021 when he will be 20?

Answer: If you submit the application form when your son is age 15, his new passport will be valid for 5 years from the date of issue not 5 years from the date you apply nor 5 years from the expiration date of his current passport. The remaining validity that exists in his passport will be lost if you apply before the expiration date. However, this may be necessary since many countries require at least 6 months validity remaining in a U.S. passport as an entry requirement.

Wait until 16
by: Sarah

Comment I am also getting my son's passport for a school trip in June. He is 16 and they said I didn't even have to be there to sign. A 16-year-old is considered an adult and can apply for their own passport without a parent (according to USPS in Trenton, OH). Also, you don't have to have both parents there. Normally, the passports only take 3-4 weeks, so you should have enough time without paying the extra fee. I would also rather have their passport good for 10 years vs. 5 years.

Response: Children ages 16-17 with their own identification can apply for a passport by themselves. However, it is recommended that at least one parent appear in person with the child to identify him/her and to show parental awareness. Passport Services is currently processing routine applications in approximately 6 weeks from the time of application.

Contradiction
by: Anonymous

Comment Your reply contradicts itself. You say that whether a child is 15 or 16, they must still appear at an acceptance facility. But further down the page, you say that if the child is 16, they may renew by mail. Pick one - you can't have it both ways.

Response: Please read the answer again. There is no contradiction.

At 15, the applicant must appear in person. The passport received will be valid for only 5 years. When it comes time to renew the passport, the person will be required to appear in person again.

At 16, the applicant must appear in person. The passport received will be valid for 10 years. When it comes time to renew the passport, the person can renew by mail.

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