Disclaimer: This site may earn affiliate commissions from your purchases through our links, at no extra cost. Learn more.

Child Passport Information - How to Get a Passport for a Minor Age 15 or Younger

Need a child's passport? Get ready to have your patience tested. Getting passports for children under age 16 is a more complicated process than the standard passport application procedure. What's more, you cannot renew a passport for a minor. This process must be started over each time your child needs a new passport.

To get a new passport book or passport card for a child, you will need:

  • a completed form DS-11
  • up-to-date passport photos
  • proof of citizenship (like your child's birth certificate)
  • payment of a passport fees (via check or money order)
  • proof of parental relationships

While many of these requirements are similar to those of an adult passport application, there are key differences. These differences (outlined below) create extra work for the parents or legal guardians that must gather and submit evidence on their children's behalf.

The U.S. Department of State has created these additional steps in their child's passport issuance policy in an effort to combat child abduction and trafficking. Guaranteeing the safety of children is clearly a worthy goal, but it still means a more complicated road for minor applicants. To make it through the process without a hitch, it is important to begin early and pay close attention to detail.

The first thing you need to know is that your child must appear in person with both parents or guardians (see special cases below). This is true for both a passport book and a passport card application.

Again, there is no renewal of a passport by mail for minors. Children under age 16 whose current passports have expired or are near the expiration date must apply in person at a passport acceptance facility as if for the first time.

Second, passports for children are only valid for 5 years. This is reflected in (modestly) lower passport application fees.

Currently, a minor's passport costs:

  • $135 for a Minor Passport Book
  • $50 for a Minor Passport Card
  • $150 for both a Minor Passport and Card

NOTE: Expedited processing for any of the above adds an additional $60 fee.

Click for reliable expedited passport courier service.

The 3 Steps to Get a Passport for a Minor Under 16

A family applies for a passport together using a laptop


Complete Application Form DS-11

The are two ways to complete the application form:

Complete Form DS-11 Offline

Download New Passport Form

After downloading and printing, you can fill in the application offline. Applicants should write legibly in black ink. If the agent has difficulty reading what you wrote, it can lead to errors in the new passport.

Complete Form DS-11 Online

Online Passport Application

Print the form once you have completed it online. Some applicants have complained of connection problems or the fact that the online form would not accept some of their answers. In such a case, use the link above to print the form and complete it offline.

There are only 22 questions on 2 pages. Personal information that is requested includes the full name, date and place of birth, sex, phone number, travel plans and emergency contact. While the estimated burden is 85 minutes, you will most likely complete the form more quickly.

NOTE: Whichever option you choose, the application should not be signed until an acceptance agent asks you to do so.


Gather Supporting Documents

The following documents must be presented at the time you submit the application at a passport office or send with the form to the passport processing center:

The passport photo requirement is one of the main reasons a child's passport cannot be renewed. It is also one of the most common reasons a minor's passport application gets denied.

While passports for children are only valid for 5 years, a child's appearance changes drastically over that time. The face you see on your child's previous passport is likely very different from the one you see now.

The U.S. State Department does allow you to supply your own photo of your child (as long as it was taken within the last 6 months and meets the current passport photo requirements), but it is a better idea to leave it to the pros.

When you make an appointment to submit your passport application and identification documents, select a passport acceptance facility that offers passport photo services.

Evidence of U.S. Citizenship

Parents must be prepared to present evidence of their child's age, and citizenship status. The following documents are acceptable:

A certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate can be acquired at the registrar's office of the state where your child was born. Be sure to get the "long form" of the document. The Department of State will not accept a short form birth certificate when applying for a U.S. passport.

Evidence of Parental Relationship

You must be prepared to document your parental relationship to a minor applying for a passport. The following options are accepted:

  • U.S. birth certificate
  • Foreign birth certificate
  • Adoption decree
  • Divorce decree
  • Court order establishing custody
  • Court order establishing guardianship
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a United States Citizen (FS-240)

The parent(s) or guardian(s) who are applying for the child's passport must submit photo ID if the child does not have one.

Acceptable identification documents include an undamaged passport or valid driver's license. A photocopy of each identification document must be submitted as well. The copy must be on plain white paper that is 8 1/2 x 11" in size. Images can only be on one side of the paper.

Additional Documents for Special Circumstances

Every family is different. As such the U.S. Department of State has created specific application procedures for minors that reflect the variety of family situations people may face when preparing to travel abroad with a minor.

Minor Has Only One Parent/Guardian

Evidence of sole legal authority to apply for the minor must be submitted with the application in the form of a:

  • U.S. or foreign birth certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or adoption decree, listing only the applying parent
  • Court order granting sole legal custody to the applying parent (unless child's travel is restricted by that order)
  • Court order specifically permitting applying parent's travel with the child
  • Judicial declaration of incompetence of the non-applying parent
  • Death certificate of the non-applying parent

The same holds true for adopted children under age 16. A sole adopting parent can present the evidence outlined above if they have a court order establishing sole custody of an adopted child.

One Parent/Guardian Is Unable to Appear

A child's passport application must be accompanied by a signed, notarized Form DS-3053: Statement of Consent from the non-applying parent/guardian. This parental consent serves as a signed statement that a child's other parent and/or legal guardian is aware that a passport is being acquired, but a personal appearance was not possible.

One Parent/Guardian Is Absent and Cannot Be Located

The applying parent must submit Form DS-5525: Statement of Exigent/Special Family Circumstances. The statement must explain in detail the non-applying parent's or guardian's unavailability and recent efforts made to contact the non-applying parent.

The applying parent also may be required to provide evidence (e.g., custody order, incarceration order, restraining order) to document his/her claim of exigent or special circumstances. To protect against international parental child abduction, the Passport Agency processing the application may ask for additional details if the statement is determined to be insufficient.

Both Parents/Guardians Are Unavailable

A third party may apply for a passport for the minor with a signed, notarized statement or affidavit from both parents or guardians authorizing a third party to apply for the minor. Each statement must be accompanied by a photocopy of the parents' or guardians' identification. When the statement of affidavit is from only one parent/guardian, the third party must present primary evidence of sole custody of the authorizing parent/guardian.

NOTE: The written consent from the non-applying parent that accompanies an application for a new passport must be less than three months old. New written consent from the non-applying parent must be obtained and submitted with any future passport application for the minor under age 16.


Visit Application Acceptance Facility

Once you have Form DS-11 completed and all the documents together, contact the nearest application acceptance facility. There are approximately 9,000 passport offices spread throughout the United States. Most of them are located in post offices.

Related Article: Applying for a passport at a post office.

Finally, you need to pay the child passport fees. There is an application fee and an execution fee. The first is paid to the Department of State and the second to the attending agent.

Applications that are submitted at a passport office take 6 to 8 weeks to process unless you request expedited service in which case it could arrive in 2 to 3 weeks.

For the fastest passport service, you need to apply at a US passport agency or, if this is not possible, through an reutable passport expediting service.

More Articles about Passports for Minors

Top 5 Questions About Expedited Passport Couriers

1. How can you get a passport when you're in a hurry?
2. What exactly does a passport expediter do?
3. Are passport expediting services legitimate?
4. How can I identify a reliable passport expeditor?
5. Is expedited passport service worth it?

Get answers to these questions and more in our Ultimate U.S. Traveler's Guide to Passport Expediters.

You can also visit our library of articles about passport expediting.

In a Hurry? Get Reliable Expedited Passport Courier Service:Expedite My U.S.Passport Now!

About the Author: For over 20 years, the U.S. Passport Service Guide team has helped hundreds of thousands of travelers with their travel document questions and shared advice about how to make traveling abroad simpler, safer, and more enjoyable.

Get the Latest Updates

Fill out the form, tick all boxes, click subscribe for updates on passports and travel news.