Are you thinking about an international trip with your kids? You’ll be needing passports for your young crew. With an upcoming international vacation, I recently had to get new passports for my children. After going through the experience, there were several things I noted that were essential to the whole process. For instance, I wish I had known we had to have an appointment before we lugged our entire family into a passport application office only to be told we couldn’t apply. Even travel agents have to learn the hard way sometimes! But, it’s all for your benefit because here are my top tips for streamlining the process of getting your child’s passports.
Passports take an average of 6 weeks to get once you apply. However, getting everything together, finding a convenient time to apply, and getting that done…well, that can take a while. Start well in advance of your trip to make sure you have enough time to receive your passports and deal with any delays or errors.
The necessary information and documents for child passports are always changing. It’s crucial that you show up to apply with all the required authentic documents and copies. For a United States Passport, find the application you need on the State Department Website.
The photo requirements for passports are very specific. While some people attempt to take their own photos, we highly recommend that you have a professional take the picture to make sure all the requirements are met. Many places, including CVS, Walgreens, or Costco offer this service. Even infants will need to have a photo taken, so be sure you plan to get this done ahead of time. You may need to warn your kids that this is not a funny photo but that they need to follow the instructions carefully.
If you plan on traveling frequently, there is an option to get a larger passport book. Since many countries have a minimum blank page requirement for entries and visas, opt for the larger book if you will be traveling often. When we went, this was not an extra cost.
Recently, many passports centers went to an appointment system to apply for a child passport. While some locations take a small percentage of walk-ins, you will need to check with your local office to see when you can apply. Some centers only operate Monday through Friday until 5 pm. Others may have weekend hours. If you plan to head to the US Post Office you can check the available offices and hours at the USPS website. Other US Passport Acceptance Locations can be found on the State Department’s Website.
Both parents need to be present along with the children to apply for a child’s passport. If both parents cannot be there, there are other steps to take that involve additional paperwork. Let’s just say; it’s probably going to be easier to have both parents and the child or children appear in person. This means that you are going to have to have an appointment time that works for the whole family. If you are like us, the easiest is to find an office with Saturday hours to be able to accommodate school and work.
Several authentic documents and copies will be needed. We placed everything in a folder, so we had all our materials, required documents, and records together and did not lose anything on our way in and out of the office. You might also want to make copies of everything you’ll be mailing in case you need them for reference.
Different passport offices take different forms of payment for the various aspects of the passport. For part of this payment, you may need a personal check, cashier’s check, or money order. Some portions of the process may be paid by credit card, but not all locations take credit cards. Check before you go to make sure you can pay for the application.
If you want to read more about the process for kids under 16, check out this resource from the US State Department. If you have a teenager that is 16 or 17, please refer to this website as the requirements are somewhat different.
If you should ever need to replace a missing passport, please refer to this page from the State Department.
We can help you design a fantastic trip to connect the whole family, including your young explorers.
About The Traveling Compass:
The Traveling Compass is a full-service luxury travel agency. Our success is built on a foundation of unmatched expertise and outstanding customer service. Our travel agents specialize in international travel, corporate incentive trips, destination weddings & honeymoons, multigenerational travel, luxury leisure, and family travel. We are also Authorized Disney Vacation Planners with experience assisting families that have children with special needs or large families or groups with complicated dining reservations for over 20 guests. Our personalized travel itineraries are designed to help discerning, time-pressed travelers plan the most elaborate vacations, down to the smallest detail. As luxury travel agents, we are dedicated to creating and facilitating travel experiences that expand awareness and give each person a real sense of the country and culture they are visiting. It is our mission to make sure you have the travel experience of a lifetime, every time.