According to the U.S. Department of State, there were over 18 million passports issued in 2016. While both my wife and I have a few years to go until we need to get our passports renewed, this spring we applied for a passport for our daughter. To be honest, we were both teenagers when we first applied for our passports and our parents did all the paperwork. When it was time for the renewal in our late twenties, it was rather easy. We were nervous that actually applying for our (young!) child would be confusing and filled with tedious paperwork.
When push came down to shove, it was much easier than we thought. Here are the steps to take to make applying for your child's passport as pain-free as possible!
1) Figure out when you are going on your trip. It can take 6-8 weeks to get your passports processed by the government. Make sure you have enough time. There are ways to expedite the process incase of emergencies or last minute circumstances, but this can be both expensive and time consuming.
2) Determine if your child is applying for a children's passport or an adult passport. The government defines children as anyone under 16 years of age. This site is a good starting place.
3) Fill out Form DS-11. The form filler option helps out for those of us that have bad handwriting 🙂 Print when you are done.
4) Now it is time to make an appointment at your local post office. We made an appointment on a Saturday morning, no problem. For those in the Madison, WI area, the DeForest post office is one of the only locations with Saturday hours. The post office clerk was very helpful on the phone, and instructed us to bring a number of things with us.
- The child - although obvious, Sarah needed to be there.
- Both parents - we were both able to make it. But if not check out Section 7 here.
- Evidence of US Citizenship - for us it was a birth certificate. Make sure you present an official birth certificate. Also, bring a photo copy, as both the official and photo copied are needed. If you have an expired passport for the child, that can be used as well.
- Parental identification - the parents each need to bring their own. We used our drivers licenses, but you can also use a passport. There are other forms listed in Section 5 here. Make sure you photo copy your form of ID.
- Form DS-11 completed.
- Photos - they offered to take photos at the post office for $15. I politely declined and went to Costco and had them done for $5.
- Fees - for us it was $80 for the passport book. You must pay by check or money order. No credit cards or cash allowed. There was also a $25 execution fee due to the post office that you can pay with check, money order, cash, or credit card.
5) Gather all the necessary paperwork together, and head to your appointment. Actually going to the post office is the easiest part if you have everything in order. We were in and out in under 10 minutes. While we were there, someone else showed up without an appointment and applied for a passport. I still would recommend calling up and scheduling an appointment. In a pinch, you might be able to show up and squeeze in.
6) Your child's passport should arrive in six to eight weeks. Ours took six.
Something to note is that you will need to mail in both the official birth certificate as well as the copy of the birth certificate. You will receive the official one back in the mail. However, it may or may not be enclosed with the passport. Don't worry, it should arrive soon after.
At the end of the day, if you have any questions, your local travel agent is a great resource to help you through the process.
Blue Sea Vacations can help you plan your next trip,
and apply for your child's passport!