When it comes to traveling with our family, most of the time we think about taking that family road trip or heading to the beach for a much-needed break from the reality of life. International travel is a different sort of adventure. There are many aspects to consider, such as the expense of flights and making sure that your passports are up-to-date and that you have your kid’s passports.
There are many reasons that you want to make sure that your kids have passports beyond the ability just to travel internationally. One of the significant benefits is that if you fly domestically, your family’s experience while passing through the TSA screening at airports will go much more smoothly. TSA agents won’t ask many questions to confirm that your child belongs to you from the TSA agents. You also won’t need to bring your kid’s birth certificate to prove age, especially when you are showing to an airline that your child is a lap child.
How To Apply For Your Kid’s Passport
While obtaining a kid’s passport is not that much different from when you apply for one as an adult, there are some key differences to remember along the way. Here are the things that you will want to do to make your experience of applying for your kid’s passport as effortlessly as possible.
Print and Fill Out State Department Paperwork
Just like when you apply for your passport as an adult, the forms are the same. If you are applying as a U.S. Citizen you’ll want to print out the DS-11 form from the U.S. State Department website. From personal experience filling out my kid’s passport application, it was much more comfortable as I didn’t have to call and ask for the year that they were born and their place of birth. The most challenging part of filling out the application was determining who would be our emergency contact should something happen to us internationally.
Card or Book
The big choice you will have to make, and one that will cost more or less depending on your travel is whether you want your kids to have a passport card, book, or both. There are benefits to having both. As mentioned above, you can use the Passport card as an ID card to make going through TSA easier if you travel domestically. The choice that you make is based on your travel destination.
If you are traveling by plane internationally, you will need the book. While you are able to board a flight domestically with your passport card, you WILL NOT be able to board an international flight without the book.
With a passport card, you’ll have the ability to cross any land border crossing by foot, car, or boat.
One thing to take into consideration as you apply for your kid’s passport is unlike an adult passport, your kid’s passport will only be good for five years. Your plans might only be to travel by car or boat, and if you don’t plan to fly internationally over the next five years (most families have to plan for major trips like that), you can save some cost by just applying for the card. (One of the Following)
There is a cost difference between your three choices, as well. Here is a breakdown of the cost:
Set Up Appointment at Passport Acceptance Facility
When you start setting up your kid’s passport appointment, you know that your travel plans are starting to become a reality. Many (not all) United States Postal Services are passport acceptance facilities. You’ll want to make an appointment beforehand, however. This will give you time to fill out and gather all of the necessary documents.
- Completed DS-11 Form
And one of the Following
- Birth Certificate (if applying for your kid’s passport for the first time)
- Full Undamaged Passport (may be expired)
- Certificate of Naturalization
- Certificate of Citizenship
As you set up this appointment, you will need to make sure that both parents are available. Both parents will have to sign the application. If it is not an option to have both parents at the appointment, you will need to fill out a DS-3053 form that you can download from the United States Department website. It will need to be notarized.
You have several options available to you should you have sole legal authority, you are unable to locate one parent, or neither are able to appear. Check the State Department’s website to see what you need to do in those situations.
Kid’s Passport Photos
You will have the option to have your kid’s passport photos taken at the passport acceptance facility you have your appointment set. The advantage of doing it this way is that you have it all taken care of at once, and the process of applying for your kid’s passport isn’t a drawn-out process. That being said, the disadvantage is the amount of time you are spending at the passport acceptance facility. It will take a while longer for the person working on your application to work on your kid’s passport application.
You will also have the option to have them taken ahead of time at a FedEx Office or UPS Store. This option is the one many people think of when applying for their passports. When applying for your kid’s passport, this is one extra step that you will have to make in the process. If your kids do not have the patience to sit at the passport acceptance facility for 10-15 minutes to have their photos taken there, this option will work best for you.
Applying for your kid’s passport might not be the most exciting part of traveling with your family, and once you get that passport in hand, your family will be able to make memories that your kids will remember for years to come.