Getting Your Kid A Passport :: Everything You Need To Know
Getting a passport for yourself can be a bit overwhelming add in getting one for your kid and the stress level multiplies. There are so many rules, requirements, and just things that you need for a successful application.
Here is what you need to know to be fully prepared.
Passport Book vs. Passport Card. Okay let’s clarify this first and foremost.
- Passport Card = you CANNOT fly with a passport card, it is for land and/or sea travel. If you plan to drive across the Northern/Southern boarders a lot, then hey, it may be good for you, otherwise the card is not worth it. While it is alluring to some because it is cheaper, it seems more of a waste of time and money. (IMHO)
- Passport Book – this is probably what comes to mind when you hear “passport.” A US passport it is a little blue book with about 25 pages for spots for your “visas” or stamps. The passport book is required for anyone, of any age who plans to board/take an international flight. No passport book = no flight. You’re not getting to any international destination by plane, be it the Caribbean, Canada or Europe, without a passport book.
Kids 16 and older & Adults: the passport is valid for 10 years.
Kids under 16: the passport is valid for 5 years. This makes sense as kids can change a lot in the course of 10 years. If you got a passport for your 2 year old, he would look very different at 12.
Now that we have that out of the way we will focus on what you need to bring and the requirements for getting an initial Passport Book.
What You Need
You will need to gather your documents, your form of payment and all of your people.
Documents for your Child’s Passport
- a completed application, but DO NOT sign it
- the child’s original or certified copy birth certificate (will be mailed off, but returned to you)
- a photocopy of the birth certificate, yes you need both the original and the copy. They will keep the copy.
- YOUR photo ID; either your valid passport or drivers license (The LA Wallet, mobile ID cannot be used)
- a clear photo copy of the front and back of your valid state ID.
- a clear 2×2 photo on a neutral background, with the subject looking straight at the camera. (You can take these yourself, at a drug store, or at the passport application office). The post office offers photos for $15. My favorite line in the tips for photos “no selfies.”
- The application fee for the passport book is $100 per child and $130 for anyone age 16+(including adults). This goes to the US Department of State. The “execution” or acceptance fee is $35 and is paid to the facility where you are applying. These two fees are paid separately and cannot be paid via cash / credit / debit. You must use money orders or checks for the fees.
- Also note, if you have more than one child you will need separate checks / money orders for each child / application. Some locations allow a family to have one check to the state department; however, you will have to include the information below for ALL of the applicants on the check.
- If using a personal check you must write the full name and date of birth of the applicant at the top of the check that is going to the State Department. So if you have a family of 5 applying … all 5 full names and birth dates will need to be on the check. It’s just easier and less of a headache to use separate.
Gather Your People
- the child applying for the passport must be present
- BOTH parents (if living and listed on birth certificate) must be present
- If a parent listed on the birth certificate is deceased, you must bring the original or certified copy of the death certificate.
- If there are extenuating circumstances check out the requirements on the State Department website
People may complain about the need for both parents to be present, but this is a safety issue. This is an attempt to keep one parent from getting their child a passport and taking that child out of the country with out the other parent’s consent.
Where To Go
The US Post Office is the most common application site. There are several passport application centers / locations in the Baton Rouge metro area that are open on the weekends!
Make an appointment. This is will make the entire process easier. You can schedule with your local post office here.
Here are some of the local offices that have weekend hours:
- Baton Rouge Woodlawn Station (Millwood and Coursey) Sat. 9a-12p
- Baton Rouge General Mail Facility (Bluebonnet) Sat. 8a-3p
- Denham Springs (Del Orleans Ave) Sat. 8:30-11:45a
- Prairieville (Airline & Post Office Rd) Sat. 9a-11a
Now that you’ve gotten your passport where should you go? My first thought is anywhere! You can stay closer to home and travel to the Caribbean or maybe you want to plan a trip to Europe. Check out these experiences with traveling to Europe with kids from our other writers. Like this mom who took the kids to France or this family who went to Italy.
Wherever you decide to go, keep in mind that passport applications are mailed and processing and can take several weeks / months (they say 6-8 weeks) for processing and return. Apply early and save yourself some stress!
If you have questions, want to complete the application on line (and then print out) or want to do more research on taking your own photo check out the Travel section on the US State Department website.