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Renewing a Child’s Passport: A Guide
Traveling with children can be a challenge. Crossing international borders adds an extra layer of difficulty because of the requirements for correct paperwork. One critical document required for this is a child’s passport. Like many other legal identification documents, passports expire. Read on to learn about the process of renewing a child’s passport.
How to Renew a Child Passport
The process of renewing a child’s passport is similar to replacing an adult’s passport. However, in practice, the process for a child passport is more rigorous. This is because of the need to prevent children from being trafficked across international borders.
You need to provide legal proof of your child’s identity and your relationship with them. You must also pay a processing fee.
The steps for renewing a child’s passport are discussed in a little bit more detail below.
1. Collect the Required Documents
The most important aspect of renewing a child’s passport is presenting the correct documents to the passport agent. The list below details the documents you need to present:
- DS-11 application form for new passports: Make sure you do not sign this form until you are in the presence of a passport agent, who will witness your signature. The agent will tell you specifically when to sign the form.
- Two photos of your child; Make sure these photos are the correct size, show the correct area of your child’s features (face, and shoulders), and conform to all the other State Department requirements for passport photos.
- Child’s proof of citizenship: Generally, this means a certified copy of the birth certificate that was issued by the city, county, or state in which your child was born. Many other documents can serve as proof of citizenship, however.
- Evidence of parental relationship: if you are applying for your biological child, the birth certificate will also serve this purpose. Otherwise, you need to provide documents that prove your legal guardianship. For example; adoption records, or a custody agreement.
- Parental consent: both parents or all legal guardians of a minor must appear in person or provide parental consent for the application.
- If this is impractical or not possible, you can fill and attach a DS-5525 Statement of Exigent/Special Family Circumstances for minors under 16.
- If you are the one who is solely responsible for the child you can provide evidence of this such as a death certificate of the other guardian or a court document showing sole custody.
- Payment of the passport application fee.
Please note for a child under the age of 16 years, an expired passport cannot be renewed. Instead, you apply for a new passport using the application process for a new passport.
Passports issued for minors younger than 16 years old are only valid for 5 years, unlike the 10-year expiration period of adult passports.
For a minor who is 16 or 17, you do not need to prove your relationship with the child, and only one parent or guardian’s consent is necessary. Under all circumstances (younger and older than 16), the child must be present when the application is submitted.
2. Locate Your Local Passport Office
In the United States, passports are issued by the Department of State. There are passport offices in many public libraries and local government buildings. You can apply with a passport acceptance agent at one of these offices.
The agent will review your documents, accept the application fee, witness your signature then send your application to the Department of State on your behalf.
If you do not know where the nearest passport office to you is, you can use the locator tool on the State Department’s website. This tool will show you all of the passport offices in and near where you are.
3. Pay the Application Fee
The exact application fee you will have to pay depends on a few factors. The list below shows the different fees you will have to pay to renew your child’s passport, depending on how you do the application:
For a child younger than 16:
- Passport book: $80 application fee and $35 execution fee.
- Passport card: $15 application fee and $35 execution fee.
- Passport book and card: $95 application fee and $35 execution fee.
- $60 expedite fee for faster issuance.
For children over 16:
- Passport book: $110 application fee and $35 execution fee.
- Passport card: $30 application fee and $35 execution fee.
- Passport book and card: $140 application fee and $35 execution fee.
- $60 expedite fee for faster issuance.
The passport agent will tell you how much the application will cost if you are unsure.
How to Renew Your Child’s Passport Online
Unfortunately, it is not currently possible to apply online for a child’s passport. This is because of the requirement for the child and all guardians or parents to appear in person in front of a passport agent.
If it is impossible or impractical for everyone to be physically present at the passport office, you can fill and attach a DS-5525 Statement of Exigent/Special Family Circumstances for minors under 16.
This form demonstrates why a living parent or guardian cannot be present or provide proof of consent to the application.
Expedited Renewal of a Child’s Passport
Normally, it takes up to 6 weeks for the new passport to be issued. If this is too long to wait, you can apply for expedited renewal. The process for expedited renewal is mostly the same as a normal application.
If you are successful, your child’s new passport could be issued in 2 to 3 weeks. You will have to pay extra for expedited processing.
Besides the extra fee, you also need to show proof of the reason you cannot wait the normal period. For example, you can present copies of airline tickets or other booking records.
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Renewing a child’s passport is more rigorous than for an adult. This is because of the need to prevent international trafficking of children. It takes up to 6 weeks to receive a new child’s passport, but the process can be sped up to 2-3 weeks. Make sure you have the correct documents and application fee before you go to the passport office.