How to Get a Passport for a U.S. Citizen Under Age 16

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This information is a summary of content on the State Department website at For details, including additional information and discussion of the forms to which links have been provided below, go to that website.

STEP ONE: Get the Application for Passport (Form DS-11)

You can fill it out ahead of time, BUT DO NOT SIGN IT UNTIL THE PASSPORT AGENT TELLS YOU TO.

STEP TWO: Prove Citizenship.

You can use any one of the following to prove citizenship:

  • Certified U.S. birth certificate;
  • Previous fully valid U.S. Passport;
  • Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240);
  • Certification of Birth Abroad (Form DS-1350); OR
  • Certificate of Citizenship or Naturalization from USCIS.

If you do not have any of these, you can use:

  1. Letter of No Record - the state where your child was born will give you a letter that says your child's name, date of birth, the years that were searched for a birth record and that there is no birth certificate on file for you; AND
  2. As many of the following as possible:
    • Baptismal certificate
    • Hospital birth certificate
    • Census record
    • Early school record
    • Family bible record
    • Doctor's record of post-natal care

STEP THREE: Prove your relationship to the minor child.

You can use the following to prove your relationship to the minor child:

  • Certified U.S. birth certificate (with parents' names);
  • Certified Foreign Birth Certificate (with parents' names and translation, if necessary);
  • Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) (with parents' names);
  • Certification of Birth Abroad ( Form DS-1350) (with parents' names);
  • Adoption Decree ( with adopting parents' names);
  • Court Order Establishing Custody; OR
  • Court Order Establishing Guardianship.

STEP FOUR: Prove your identity.

You can use any one of the following to prove your identity:

  • Valid Drivers License;
  • Valid Official U.S. Military ID;
  • Valid U.S. Gov't ID;
  • Valid U.S. or Foreign Passport with recognizable photo
  • Naturalization/Citizenship Certificate from USCIS with recognizable photo; OR
  • Alien Resident Card from USCIS

If you don't have any of these, you can use:

  1. Some other document with your signature
    (For example, a combination of documents, such as your Social Security card, credit card, bank card, library card, etc.); AND
  2. A person who can vouch for you. He/she must:
    • Have known you for at least 2 years;
    • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident;
    • Have valid ID; AND
    • Fill out a Form DS-71 in the presence of a passport agent.

STEP FIVE: Go to passport agent and sign the application.

1. Both parents must appear together and sign; OR

2. One parent appears and signs, and has a Form DS-3053 Statement of Consent: Issues of a Passport to a Minor Under Age 16 (can be completed online or by hand) or a notarized written statement with the same information that is on the DS-3053; OR

3. One parent appears, signs, and submits proof that they have the right to get a passport without the other parent's agreement. This type of proof could be:

  • Child's certified U.S. or foreign birth certificate (with translation, if necessary) listing only applying parent;
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) or Certification of Birth Abroad (Form DS-1350) listing only applying parent;
  • Court order granting sole custody to the applying parent (unless child's travel is restricted by that order);
  • Adoption decree (if applying parent is sole adopting parent);
  • Court order specifically permitting applying parent's or guardian's travel with the child;
  • Judicial declaration of incompetence of non-applying parent; OR
  • Death certificate of non-applying parent.

4. One parent can appear and fill out a Form DS-3053: Statement of Consent or Special Circumstances: Issuance of a Passport to a Minor Under Age 16.

STEP SIX: Have two passport photos ready.

Your photographs must be :

  • 2x2 inches in size
  • Identical
  • Taken within the past 6 months, showing current appearance
  • Color
  • Full face, front view with a plain white or off-white background
  • Between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head
  • Taken in normal street attire
    • Uniforms should not be worn in photographs unless worn daily for religious purposes,
    • Do not wear a hat or headgear that obscures the hair or hairline.
    • If you normally wear prescription glasses, a hearing device, wig or similar articles, they should be worn for your picture.
    • Dark glasses or nonprescription glasses with tinted lenses are not acceptable unless you need them for medical reasons. A medical certificate may be required.

Note: Vending machine photos are not accepted.

STEP SEVEN: Pay the Fee

At most locations, you can pay with check, cash, or credit card. Payment is made to the "U.S. Department of State."


Passport Card

If you are traveling to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, or Bermuda by road or sea, you can get a passport card instead of a traditional passport. Passport cards cannot be used to travel by air.

Differences between US Passport Book and US Passport Card

U.S. Passport Book

  • Valid for travel by air, sea, or land.
    • Validity: 10 years for adults
    • 5 years for minors
  • Cost for first time applicants: $100 for adults
    $85 for minors
  • Cost for US Passport book renewal: $75 for adults

U.S. Passport Card

  • Not Valid for travel by air. Valid for land and sea crossings between the U.S and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and Caribbean only.
    • Validity: 10 years for adults
    • 5 years for minors
  • Cost for first time applicants: $45 for adults
    $35 for minors

Please Note: The passport cards do contain a vicinity-read radio frequency identification (RFID) chip. This chip will point to a stored record in secure government databases. There will be no personal information written to the RFID chip itself.

This information is a summary of more detailed information on the State Department website at For additional information, including the forms to which links have been provided, go to that website.

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Last Review and Update: Jul 14, 2010

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