I recently applied for a Baby Passport. These are needed for Babies that are United States Citizens traveling oversees only. For domestic travel a Birth Certificate is sufficient, and from what I can gather from American Airlines support and a lot of other parents, the certificate is not as a form of ID. The birth certificate requirement is more a case of proving your baby is under 2 years old and therefore doesn’t need to pay for their own seat, as it can travel as a lap infant.
The Baby Passport application is quite straightforward. There are several options in terms of suitable locations for the acceptance of the forms, which include “post offices, clerks of court, public libraries and other state, county, township, and municipal government offices”. Personally I found a nearby USPS Post Office was the best option. Here is a locator tool that will show you nearby options searching by Zip Code. It is important to note that many post offices will not accept a walk in application – you can go there to pick up the form, and set an appointment for the forms and supporting documents to be reviewed.
- Pro Tip – You can download and print out the application form DS-11 and call in for your appointment.
Note that passports that are issued for people 15 and under are valid for 5 years, whereas the regular US passport is valid for 10 years.
What you need
- You need both parents present, failing which you will need to have the other parent complete, and have notarized, this form
- Parents require photo ID (a Drivers License works)
- Child’s Birth Certificate
- Passport Photo – note that the head cannot be too prominent, we had to have ours retaken because it was zoomed in too much. The guidelines are below Note you can take your own photos, I have done this in the past for adult passports (US and UK) which saves a lot of time and a bit of money. If you decide to do that, make sure you follow the full criteria:
- In color
- Printed on matte or glossy photo quality paper
- 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm) in size
- Sized such that the head is between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches (between 25 and 35 mm) from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head. View the Photo Composition Template for more size requirement details.
- Taken within the last 6 months to reflect your current appearance
- Taken in front of a plain white or off-white background
- Taken in full-face view directly facing the camera
- With a neutral facial expression and both eyes open
- Fees – they accept checks, if you are at the Post Office you can buy a money order for the fees also.
Expedite, or regular processing?
For an additional $60+$14.95 (overnight return) you can receive expedited service. If you have travel plans coming up, check the current passport processing times here.
As you can see, at this time there is a 4-5 week wait for regular processing, and 2-3 for expedited. Additionally, it is possible to track the status of your regular application using this link which is very handy. Make sure you also complete the email address field so you receive email updates on the application.
This allows you to start out with the regular processing (cheaper) option, and swap it to expedited should you feel the need. This helps make the decision to opt for regular processing a little more comfortable.
- You don’t need a baby passport for domestic US travel, only for International. It will last for 5 years.
- You need an appointment at most USPS Post Offices to process the application
- You can download the forms, and take your own photos and bring everything to your appointment to save time
- You can check processing times in advance, and elect to expedite after the application has started if time is looking tight
josh f says
Nice summary. From experience I agree usps is the most painless for this as they take appointments
marathon man says
I recall the only PITA was having to have both parents there at the same time. Hard enough when we like each other lol
Anyway I just wanted to add that in order to apply for a baby passport, people have to actually HAVE a baby. Now I know that may be sharing too many secret tips in a public forum and all, but I didn’t want to appear as though I was hiding something I knew about and NOT sharing it either. I want to help the newbies so they like me and think I am some sort of MS god and that way i can get a free drink at meetups now and then. I also secretly know that the more people who sign up for a baby passport, the more referral hits I will get from the maternity ward and the US Passport office. These convert into diaper coupons that I can redeem for free shutterfly books. You need those when you take pics of your kiddos.
Yep – or as the post says download a form and have it notarized. What a pain…
Thanks very much for your ongoing commitment to the community – you are singing like a canary these days 🙂
marathon man says
Yuppers, Alls I’m doin is rehashing stuff I have probably already written a few times over in the past year alone somewhere… and I find I have to do it or else people will be mad at me cuz they are too lazy to actually go looking for the answers themselves hehehe
Either that or I was traveling a lot and busy with my family recently (renewing a passport for a dual citizen child after 5 years in Boston can be tricky depending on the country needed and it takes time) and just wasnt posting as much as usual.
Back in NYC most of the locations are either booked up over the phone thus available in a few weeks’ time or ‘you need to be there at 6AM’ even though ‘we’re open at 8:30AM on Saturdays’ for example, and ‘only the first 25 petitioners who get in the queue may apply on the particular day’ which looks like an attempt to buy new IPhone 🙂
USPS on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, on the other hand, is barely a 5-minute visit! I do not think expedited service makes much sense as our newborn’s passport got to us within 2 weeks. Now we still need to deal with 2 more consulates in order to make our daughter triple-national 🙂
Ahh Brooklyn how I miss thee…
Though we went to the DMV up here (for a myriad of things) and they were the nicest people of all time – I had like 3 clerks playing with the baby and giving us advice on how to reduce fees and whatnot.
Country life man, everybody is happier up here… apart from that State Trooper who nailed me with 3 tickets 🙁
Matt, do not you dare to speed with a baby on board 🙂 You must have gotten these 3 for yor own sake, as long as it was not DWI 🙂
There was no baby, I was racing home to bring food to my darling family.
Try traveling alone internationally with your young child and you will discover how sexist US customs and border control is. My wife can easily enter the country with our kids, no questions asked. When I enter alone with my kids I’m asked many questionas about my kids. Moreover, I’ve been asked to provide written documentation that my wife gave permission to let my kids travel with me. I bring a written letter from my wife and her ID to make sure we get back into the US. Interestingly, I have yet to enter any other country that assumes you’ve kidnapped your kids.
Yeah, you know… I kinda don’t mind a bit of profiling though. I’ve been on the brunt of stuff like that for the past 12 years now as a foreigner. I now expect to get crap from such people. Plus, in the case of a kid, the wife was just saying how slack it is that they can fly without ID, it doesn’t do any favors in terms of abduction (more so for one that isn’t your own..)
That said, I think my tolerance for flying and such people will change when I try it with a kid too!
Will Baby Saverocity be getting a UK passport, too? My grandson came into this country on his Italian passport last summer, because the US consulate in Milan, where they had to take him, twice, was wayyyyy too pokey. Went all the way there with the (at the time) three month old baby, and they told my daughter that she had to have her high school transcripts to prove she was a citizen. Because, you know, a current MN driver’s license, a SS card, her birth certificate and a current passport weren’t enough proof. So the whole dual citizenship thing took an extra five months.
To have him declared an Italian citizen, they went to city hall, his dad said, Yup, he’s mine, and that was about it. (OK, he said it in Italian.)
Yeah, but give me a break! I gotta move house and then get the DO set up first 🙂
Italy’s really loosened up about those kinds of things recently. A lot of marche da bollo have gone away, for instance – like for passports and vital records. But in matters where the US might require a birth certificate, Italian law has a lot of provisions for autocertificazione (self certification). If your child was under 18, it really is just a matter of the parents (or the parent with citizenship) to register the birth with his comune (or with the consulate if registered in AIRE and living abroad).
Oh, and if you have a different name from your spouse and kids, they’re just as rotten to moms. We went to Mexico when my youngest was 16. I’d been told that his birth certificate was adequate (this was 13 years ago). Got to the check in desk at 5:15 am for a 6:30 flight, and found out I needed a notarized letter of permission from his dad (my ex) for him to leave the country. Calling him at that time of morning was great fun. Luckily, one of the desk attendants was a notary, and when he finally showed up, 10 minutes after the flight left, we got the letter notarized. They did manage to get us all on a plane, however.
Helpful post, thanks!