Once upon a time, a small child or infant was able to travel on their parent’s passport. Usually, this would be the child’s mother. Today, every US citizen is required to have their own passport for international travel. If the family is travelling in a hurry, it is possible to apply for an expedited American pass port for newborn infant. This can be done by the parents themselves or by an agency that is set up and accustomed to process these sorts of applications.
There is a lot more involved in obtaining an infant passport than for an adult. Some requirements include a birth certificate or other proof of American citizenship, parental consent, parental identification, parental Social Security Number and proof of intent to travel. Then you must fill in a form, pay the fee and send a couple of photographs. The reality is somewhat more complicated. It gets worse if one of the parents is absent or uncooperative. There are five child passport levels. These are Expedited, Rush, Priority, Next Day and 24-Hour. The expedited passport takes up to two weeks to process and the passport is mailed directly to that parent(s).
The necessary form, DS-11 – Application for a passport renewal, may be completed online and then printed or it may be downloaded, printed and then completed by hand. Form DS-11 is also available at a passport agency or from an Acceptance Facility. It is important not to sign the form until instructed to do so.
The passport will be valid for five years and it may not be renewed. The application needs to be submitted in person and the baby itself has to be there.
There are very precise requirements for the infant’s photograph that is going to appear on the passport. It must be 2″ x 2″ and the head of the baby has to be between 1 inch and 1-3/8 inches. The baby’s head must be unadorned by a hat or anything else. The photo cannot be more than six months old when the application is submitted.
In the photograph, the baby must have a ‘natural’ expression. They must not be smiling, laughing, crying or screaming. They must have their mouth closed and must not contain a pacifier. The baby must be facing forward and looking at the camera. Only the baby must be in the picture, no parental hands, face, arms or even a car seat. Sometimes it is easier just to pay a professional photographer to get this done.
Parental proof of American citizenship is specifically required. This documentation may take the form of a certified birth certificate, a valid passport, Form FS-240 (Consular Report of Birth), Form DS-1350 (Certification of Report of Birth) or a certificate of naturalization or citizenship.