Picture this: Day seven of Willow’s life and we’re stepping through the doors of the post office to apply for a passport. No ordinary setting for a fresh-to-the-world newborn baby; but then again, you’re searching for how to get a U.S. passport for your baby so you must be the same kind of adventurous parents as us.
For my second maternity leave, I was set on an Italian getaway for my family of 4 (quick trip recap here). Timing was everything. With only weeks to go before the trip, I had to use every trick in my book from doing this process before with Caden to make it seamless and risk-free to get that passport in time. So I’m answering ALL the questions on how to get a passport for your newborn baby now that I’d consider myself a pro.
Your Top Questions on How to Get a U.S. Passport for Your Newborn Baby, Answered
1. What documents do I need for the passport application for my newborn baby?
You’ll need your baby’s birth certificate and social security number. Both of these you cannot obtain until your baby is born. Note that the birth certificate you receive in the hospital is not the official birth certificate – you’ll need the certified birth certificate issued by the city. You’ll also need your government-issued ID. For all of these, you’ll need to bring the originals and a photocopy on 8.5×11 in paper, printed in black and white, single-sided. You’ll also need a completed *but not signed* Form DS-11.
2. Do I need to make an appointment to apply for my newborn baby’s passport?
Yes. You can find a passport acceptance facility in your area with this locator. Our local post offices only accept appointments 4 weeks in advance.
3. Can I take my own newborn baby passport photo?
Our post-office offers to take passport photos, but yes you can DIY! Lay your baby on a plain white sheet or blanket – a white background is a requirement. Capture your baby awake with eyes open, facing straight ahead. I know it may be difficult, but your baby’s eyes must be fully visible. No toys or pacifiers can be in the shot, and neither can headbands or bows. Hot tip: to get your baby to sit still, facing forward, I recommend placing a white sheet over the baby’s car seat, and then placing your baby in the car seat. This is allowed, as long as the background is fully white. Print the passport photo in size 2×2 inches (5×5 cm) in dimension. Walgreens and CVS offer passport printing services specifically in this size.
4. Are both parents required to be present when applying for a baby’s passport?
Both you and your partner need to show up. If one’s unavailable, carry a notarized consent form (Form DS-3053) along with a copy of the non-applying parent’s ID, front & back. Solo? Grab a court order proving sole authority.
5. How do I fill out the passport application for my newborn baby?
You need to apply in person, but ahead of your appointment you should fill out Form DS-11 which you can download from the travel.state.gov site with accurate and detailed information about your little one. Use black ink and write legibly. Complete it but do not—I repeat, do NOT—sign it yet. You must sign it in front of the passport agent.
6. What are the fees associated with getting a passport for my newborn?
You can expect to pay $135, which includes both the application fee and the processing fee. This has to be paid via personal check or money order. Credit and debit cards are not accepted.
7. How long does it take to receive a passport for a baby?
Patience is key when it comes to passport processing. Typically, it takes about six to eight weeks to receive your baby’s passport, but as of this article’s publish date current processing times are extended up to 10 to 13 weeks for routine processing and 7 to 9 weeks for expedited service. For the most current information on processing times, be sure to check travel.state.gov before you apply. After you complete the application process, you can track the status of the passport on the government’s passport application tracker.
8. Can I expedite my newborn baby’s passport application?
Time crunch? No problem. Expedited processing is available for an additional fee. This service will shorten the processing time to approximately two to three weeks. Keep in mind that expedited service may not be available in all circumstances. Even though we received Caden’s passport in 4 weeks without expediting it, we didn’t want to risk a delay of Willow’s passport and did pay to expedite it.
9. What should I do if I need to travel internationally but haven’t received my baby’s passport yet?
If your travel date is on the horizon, but your baby’s passport is still in the works, don’t panic. Contact your nearest Passport Agency to make an appointment with proof international travel within the next 14 days. You can find a map of these here. Please be aware that these agencies and centers are different from passport acceptance facilities (for example, USPS is an acceptance facility but not going to cut it as a passport agency when you need urgent results).
10. How long is my newborn baby’s passport valid for?
Your little traveler’s passport will be valid for five years. That means you have plenty of time for exciting adventures before it’s time to renew. Cherish those moments of exploration and discovery as you create lasting memories with your little one.
11. Is it necessary for my baby to have a passport for domestic flights?
For domestic flights within the United States, babies generally don’t require a passport. However, some airlines might still require proof of age, such as a birth certificate or other identification documents.
Getting a passport for your newborn baby may seem like a daunting task, but with the right information and preparation, it can be a relatively easy process! For a full list of tips on how to travel internationally with your baby, check out my step-by-step guide. With your baby’s passport in hand, you can enjoy stress-free international travel and create unforgettable memories with your family. Safe travels!