How To Apply For A Baby’s First Passport

How To Apply For A Baby’s First Passport

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We recently became parents, and suffice it to say that there’s quite a learning curve. As someone who is a bit travel obsessed, I of course wanted to make sure Miles got a passport as soon as possible, even if we don’t have any immediate travel plans for him.

In this post I wanted to outline the general process of applying for a newborn baby’s first passport, as I figured it’s something other parents (or soon-to-be parents) might find useful.

Our experience applying for a newborn’s passport

What’s the process like of applying for a baby’s first passport? It definitely requires some attention to detail, but it’s a bit easier than I was expecting. There are a few key things to understand:

  • You need the baby’s birth certificate before you can apply for a passport; this is typically mailed to the parents after birth, and it can take up to a few weeks for it to arrive
  • Once you’ve received your baby’s birth certificate, I’d recommend first making a passport appointment, as this typically requires at least a couple of weeks notice
  • Once you’ve completed the application, both parents need to submit the documents at a passport acceptance facility; fortunately many post offices are acceptance facilities, so most people shouldn’t have to go far to do this
  • You can expect that it will take 7-10 weeks for standard processing, 4-6 weeks for expedited processing, and if you have travel within 14 days, you can get it expedited even faster
  • Once issued, the passport is valid for five years

With that out of the way, let me share my experience, in the order in which I went through this process. I want to note that the Department of State actually has a great webpage that lays out the process, which I’d recommend referencing.

Getting a passport application appointment

Once you have your baby’s birth certificate, I’d recommend first making an appointment at a passport acceptance facility. This includes everything from post offices, to city halls, to libraries, to the county clerk’s office. For most people this should be pretty close by.

For us, the first appointment was available about two weeks out. So as soon as we received Miles’ birth certificate, we made an appointment. After all, filling out the paperwork and getting all the documents in order doesn’t take very long, so the wait for an appointment is the limiting factor here.

Filling out passport application & collecting documents

If you’re applying for a passport for a newborn, you need to fill out form DS-11. You can either download this as a PDF and then handwrite everything in, or alternatively you can use the form filler feature. I went with the latter option. You’ll of course want to make sure that you quadruple check everything.

Once you print the page, you’re not allowed to make any changes in handwriting, so you’d have to complete the form all over again.

You can find all the required documents on this page, as there are in some cases multiple options for documents you can submit. In our case, we collected the following documents to bring to the passport acceptance facility:

  • A certified copy of the birth certificate, plus a photocopy of it; this kills two birds with one stone, as it provides US citizenship evidence for the baby, and also proves parental relationship
  • Both parents need to present a form of ID, plus a photocopy of it, so we both presented our passports, as well as photocopies of our passports
  • If both parents can attend the appointment then there’s no need to prove parental consent beyond that, while if only one parent can attend, there’s additional paperwork that needs to be filled out

Taking a passport photo for a newborn baby

You must provide a passport sized photo of your baby, and you can find the requirements for that here. If you have a newborn, this is kind of a hilarious exercise, since photographing a baby that’s a few weeks old isn’t exactly easy (good luck getting them to open their eyes, never mind that they can’t support their own neck).

At a time when Miles was awake and alert, we had him lie down on a white sheet. That seemed easier than trying to get him to sit up and hold his neck in front of a white background. Maybe I’m just biased, but the passport photo is possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s probably weird to share here, but new parents might just have some fun with this. We then went to a drugstore to have it printed in passport size.

It’s kind of hilarious to think that this will be his passport photo until the age of five.

Paying fees for a new passport

There are of course costs associated with applying for a new passport, and this requires some preparation in advance. The passport acceptance facility charges a $35 fee, which you can typically pay with credit card, debit card, or cash. That’s easy.

The trickier part is paying the Department of State. Currently you can expect to pay the following:

  • The cost for a passport book is $100, while the cost for a passport card is $15; so both would cost $115
  • If you want to expedite the application, that costs an extra $60
  • If you want to pay extra to have it shipped back to you with anything but regular mail, that will cost extra, though the fee will vary; you’ll be told what the fee is during the application process

This needs to be paid either by check or money order, made out to “U.S. Department of State.” Sometimes the passport acceptance facility can also get you a money order, but you’ll want to check based on where your appointment is.

Submitting your passport application

We made our appointment at a post office. The process was painless but a bit disorganized. There’s not actually a dedicated area for passport appointments, but rather you just wait in the general line. When it was our turn, we informed the agent we were applying for a passport, and she offered to help us. It makes me wonder if you actually even need an appointment, or can just walk in.

The whole process took maybe five minutes. She just reviewed our documents, our passports, and filled in the section of the application that is supposed to be completed by an official. She “awwwwed” at Miles’ passport photo, looked at him (even though he was sound asleep), and then sent us on our way.

Tracking the status of your passport application

We only applied yesterday, so I’ll be sure to update this post if/when the passport actually arrives. You can in theory track a passport application here, though it can take two weeks from the date of application for it to even show as being “In Process.”

We submitted an expedited application on September 12, so I’m hoping that his passport arrives in the mail by the end of October. Wish us luck!

Bottom line

Applying for an infant’s first passport was easier than I was expecting. Just wait for the baby’s birth certificate to arrive, then make an appointment at a passport acceptance facility, then complete the application, then have fun taking a passport photo, then attend the appointment, and then wait.

The whole process was painless, and it would have been even more painless if I had a printer or a check book.

If you’ve applied for a passport for an infant, what was your experience like?

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  1. Sam Guest

    How to apply for a baby passport and where?

  2. Sam Guest

    We were on the super-expedited route with international travel in the next 14 days which gives you an earlier appointment IF available. This was the catch… since in the entire US there was no availability in the 26 passport offices expect for Hawaï. Needles to say we had to cancel our flight.
    So, while they inform you about that extra option, in reality you have to be super lucky.

  3. DaveW Guest

    The process for getting a passport for a baby/infant is quite different in non USA countries. Is your blog just for US people? am a bit disappointed.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      So you expect to have this travel and credit card blog to explain the process of the nearly 200 territories that issues a passport?

      What is it with ignorant people named Dave?

  4. Dave Guest

    You forgot the biggest cost of getting a US passport - high taxation for life, regardless of where he lives!! Should’ve got him one from somewhere else :-p

    1. Eskimo Guest

      This is exactly what is wrong with our great nation.
      People demand rights but ignores the responsibilities that comes with it.
      High taxation isn't the biggest cost of getting a US passport.
      It's the cost of Freedom and Democracy.

      Any US citizen without a passport is still subject to tax globally.
      A passport is just one of the many proofs of citizenship.
      You don't acquire citizenship from a book. In...

      This is exactly what is wrong with our great nation.
      People demand rights but ignores the responsibilities that comes with it.
      High taxation isn't the biggest cost of getting a US passport.
      It's the cost of Freedom and Democracy.

      Any US citizen without a passport is still subject to tax globally.
      A passport is just one of the many proofs of citizenship.
      You don't acquire citizenship from a book. In this case, it's acquired by birthright.

      Now stop spreading fake information and start learning your civic duties.
      Freedom isn't free.

    2. Globe Trekker New Member

      You get taxed for being a US citizen, not for getting a passport. Even if they got a non-US passport for him, he'd still be on the hook for US taxes (less foreign tax exclusions) later in life.

  5. Keyser Soze Guest

    A thought for anyone applying for a new/renewal Passport: pay the extra fee ($15 or so) and get a Passport Card along with your Passport Book. You can’t use the Card by itself to get on an international flight. However, the card does fit in your wallet, is evidence of your U.S. citizenship, and does NOT have your home (or any) address on it. It does NOT have your SSN on it either. This makes...

    A thought for anyone applying for a new/renewal Passport: pay the extra fee ($15 or so) and get a Passport Card along with your Passport Book. You can’t use the Card by itself to get on an international flight. However, the card does fit in your wallet, is evidence of your U.S. citizenship, and does NOT have your home (or any) address on it. It does NOT have your SSN on it either. This makes the Passport Card an *excellent* SPAM/identity-theft fighting tool. I particularly enjoy frustrating “Official ID Required” DRONES because they can’t refuse the card and they don’t get to harvest info they normally would from a Driver’s License.

  6. iamhere Guest

    When my passport expired years ago before I was 18, but I was within 2 years they gave me a ten year passport anyway. Your comment about the baby photo, it's true. There's a story asking my parents about where they baby was when I was walking around.

  7. AlanT98 Guest

    Will you also write about giving your son German citizenship and the process for getting him his first passport?

  8. Ray Guest

    Teach him German and pass on the nationality to him. That should save you both from thinking about college tuition costs…

  9. Stephen Guest

    Just remember when traveling with an infant overseas, you'll most likely find that you wont be able to use the self-service eGates for passport control when entering and leaving countries. In Australia you have to be over 16 years old to use the eGates for departures and arrivals.

    Just recently had the experience on a trip from Sydney, Australia to Fiji with our daughter and her 2 and half year old son. On departing and...

    Just remember when traveling with an infant overseas, you'll most likely find that you wont be able to use the self-service eGates for passport control when entering and leaving countries. In Australia you have to be over 16 years old to use the eGates for departures and arrivals.

    Just recently had the experience on a trip from Sydney, Australia to Fiji with our daughter and her 2 and half year old son. On departing and returning to Sydney we had to present our passports to a "real" person for processing. However, the upside is that you may find airport staff will direct you to a separate passport booth for expedited processing and if you're lucky (which you are!) you might also get expedited security checking as well.

  10. Mason Guest

    Agree with the white sheet on the floor method, and then you can also use free online tools to crop the photo perfectly for a passport and have Amazon print and mail the photo to you for about $1. That's easier than going to a drugstore.

  11. Nat Guest

    Baby passport photos are THE BEST. We did same as you did with both of our kids. I saved some of the bloopers for our family photo album.

  12. JO Guest

    Highly recommend the passport card. A cheap way to have ID for a child which can be carried in a wallet. Especially useful when visiting a foreign country where they require you to have your "passport" on your person at all times but you probably don't want to be carrying your actual passport around. Have used the card successfully on multiple occasions for this for the family.

  13. Akpululu Guest

    Passport was a cute photo. Global entry photo is literally me holding our daughter in the air. Using the facial recognition on return was a chore. Really wish the policy would change.

  14. Towelie196 Member

    We just did this last year with our newborn daughter. Surprisingly the expedited service only took a couple of weeks.

    If you think the passport picture is funny wait until you get global entry. Our daughter was asleep in her stroller when she did her "interview" so the picture was taken at an angled distance from about 4 feet.

  15. Julio New Member

    Are you going to do a post on how it was applying for German citizenship for a child born abroad and a passport for a child of a same sex couple give that German nationality law is quite complex?

    1. Rik Guest

      I was wondering the same, but that's assuming Miles is eligible.

      I don't know how many generations German nationality can be passed on without living there.

    2. AlanT98 Guest

      Miles is eligible as long as he is registered at a German Consulate before age 1.

  16. Stephen Guest

    We went international with our baby and when we got back to the US we could not go through global entry because our baby did not have it.... Wish this policy would change

    1. ScottS New Member

      @Stephen, I agree. I wish you could just add a baby to your Global Entry until their newborn passport expires. Doesn't make sense to have to go through the entire process for an infant. I just applied for my daughters Global Entry last month and was conditionally approved in just over a week. Plan on using the Entry on Arrival Interview when we move back to the States in 2.5 weeks. I'm sure she'll ace the interview :).

  17. Greg Guest

    I also got my daughter‘s first passport when she was a newborn. I agree that the funniest part of the whole process is getting the infant’s passport photo taken. I just went to the neighborhood drug store which takes passport photos. They simply had me support the baby’s head while I stood back as far as I could out of the shot.

  18. Andrew Guest

    My experience abroad was much different that ScottS's. In Bermuda we were able to get an appointment right away and had our daughter's passport in our hands 17 days after she was born.

    Getting a social security number was a PITA though because consulates/embassies are the State Department while SSNs are issued by the Social Security Administration. We had to mail a form to an SSA office in Costa Rica and wait months to...

    My experience abroad was much different that ScottS's. In Bermuda we were able to get an appointment right away and had our daughter's passport in our hands 17 days after she was born.

    Getting a social security number was a PITA though because consulates/embassies are the State Department while SSNs are issued by the Social Security Administration. We had to mail a form to an SSA office in Costa Rica and wait months to get it back by regular mail. No way to track either the outbound or return package, so you just stick in the mail and then hope.

    1. ScottS New Member

      @Andrew, Glad you had a better experience. We had our daughter last year (Jul 2021) during the height of COVID and the embassies/consulates were still using it as an excuse to offer reduced service. I was able to find an earlier appointment, but it was at the consulate in Belfast, Northern Ireland. We live in Birmingham, England currently. We just couldn't make it work with our schedule and it was only 2 days away. The...

      @Andrew, Glad you had a better experience. We had our daughter last year (Jul 2021) during the height of COVID and the embassies/consulates were still using it as an excuse to offer reduced service. I was able to find an earlier appointment, but it was at the consulate in Belfast, Northern Ireland. We live in Birmingham, England currently. We just couldn't make it work with our schedule and it was only 2 days away. The SSN wasn't terrible. I sent the CRBA, her British Birth Certificate, her passport and mine to the embassy in London. Got them back in about a week with a note saying we should receive it within 60 days. It's coming up on 60 days here soon, so hopefully it arrives before we move back to America in 2.5 weeks.

  19. Never In Doubt Guest

    Ah, the memories.

    Having to all show up at an appointment time (which was the requirement for a time in SF) at one of the few post offices that did it was the biggest hassle.

    But the Doubt children have now both received their last passports for which parental trips to the post office are required. Freedom!

  20. Blent Guest

    Now of course you gotta get your baby Global Entry :)

    1. Khatl Diamond

      Ha! Imagine trying to get the iris scan!

  21. Jimmy Guest

    Between minor passports expiring every 5 years and having to renew in person, if you have a couple kids it seems like you're constantly going in to get them renewed.

    To get really into the weeds: once a kid is 16 their next passport is good for 10 years, so there's a real incentive to figure out a schedule to have their 3rd renewal happen when they're 16 rather than 15.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      “ there's a real incentive to figure out a schedule to have their 3rd renewal happen when they're 16 rather than 15.”

      Much easier said than done.

      Given birthdates, travel schedules & potential issuance wait times you have to sacrifice somewhere to pull that off.

      The only way is either to start well after age 1 or allow gaps in passport validity.

      Plus, many/most countries require 6 months of validity to enter, which squeezes you on the back end.

  22. Khatl Diamond

    Re waiting in the general line, this depends on the post office. e.g., one near us has a dedicated passport facility with its own entrance next door to the actual post office

  23. dfw88 Guest

    I've done passports for two babies and the photos are definitely the hardest part. The good news is that the State Department is very forgiving with baby photos (unlike with adult photos, where they're overly pedantic). My now three-year-old doesn't look anything like that photo, but I've never had anyone at an immigration line even notice. My favorite part of the application is getting to write "baby" in the occupation line of the form. My...

    I've done passports for two babies and the photos are definitely the hardest part. The good news is that the State Department is very forgiving with baby photos (unlike with adult photos, where they're overly pedantic). My now three-year-old doesn't look anything like that photo, but I've never had anyone at an immigration line even notice. My favorite part of the application is getting to write "baby" in the occupation line of the form. My children are officially professional babies, even when they're not babies anymore.

  24. Kyle Guest

    On the Post Office website, you can search for facilities that offer photo services. For both our kids, they took the photos there ($15), and most importantly, verified they would be accepted. It took them several tries to get a valid photo with a newborn, so that made it worth it IMO.

    Side note, our post office (central Denver) has a dedicated passport room, waiting area, and they do honor appointment times. So YMMV.

  25. Greg Guest

    Wanted to add a comment along the passport lines but regarding the birth certificate. I am sure it is different by state but in some states you can order it online and it is way cheaper to order 4-5 at once than it is to order 1 now and a few later. When you submit your passport application you send in the birth certificate (which is returned by mail later). We found having a few...

    Wanted to add a comment along the passport lines but regarding the birth certificate. I am sure it is different by state but in some states you can order it online and it is way cheaper to order 4-5 at once than it is to order 1 now and a few later. When you submit your passport application you send in the birth certificate (which is returned by mail later). We found having a few birth certificates made sense in case we needed one for some reason while the application was being processed.

  26. BB312 Guest

    My advice on the photo is to do it while they are still young enough to sit in a car seat with a white sheet over it. We waited to about 18 months old when we did this last year and could not get him to stand still. It took weeks of trying every day. I’d compare it to the potty training we’re currently working on.

  27. Santastico Gold

    US Passport for a baby is kind of a joke. Having that baby picture until 5 years old means you can use it for almost any kid in the world. My son's first passport picture had my thumbs on it since I had to hold him to take the picture. Hilarious!!

  28. ScottS New Member

    You had it easy. Try getting a US passport for an infant that was born outside the United States. Not only do you have to have their foreign birth certificate, you have to have a Consular Report of Birth Abroad from an American Embassy/Consulate. Good luck getting an appointment. We waited over 11 months for an appointment to open up in Edinburgh before we could get my daughters CRBA. Never could get an appointment at...

    You had it easy. Try getting a US passport for an infant that was born outside the United States. Not only do you have to have their foreign birth certificate, you have to have a Consular Report of Birth Abroad from an American Embassy/Consulate. Good luck getting an appointment. We waited over 11 months for an appointment to open up in Edinburgh before we could get my daughters CRBA. Never could get an appointment at the embassy in London for it. She's a dual citizen now US/UK passport, so that's something neat she can share with her friends later in life.

    1. reddargon Diamond

      Interesting, I wonder why this was such an issue in the UK. Here in France we got this relatively quickly back in late 2020.

    2. ScottS New Member

      @reddargon, our daughter was born Jul 2021, so I think the embassies were still using COVID as an excuse to offer reduced service. I'd look daily for weeks at a time after she was born to try and find an appointment and they were never available. That's the only thing I can think of.

    3. AlanT98 Guest

      @ScottS It's a shame that you now condemned your daughter to the IRS and double taxation

    4. ScottS New Member

      Present your children with challenges and see how they overcome them. Isn't that what parenting is? LOL

  29. reddargon Diamond

    I echo your thoughts on the passport photo--the photo of our daughter is quite hilarious. I'm interested to hear how long it takes you to get the passport. As an expat living abroad our daughter's passport came very quickly (~2 weeks, I want to say), but I imagine they really expedite in those situations.

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Mason Guest

Agree with the white sheet on the floor method, and then you can also use free online tools to crop the photo perfectly for a passport and have Amazon print and mail the photo to you for about $1. That's easier than going to a drugstore.

2
Never In Doubt Guest

“ there's a real incentive to figure out a schedule to have their 3rd renewal happen when they're 16 rather than 15.” Much easier said than done. Given birthdates, travel schedules & potential issuance wait times you have to sacrifice somewhere to pull that off. The only way is either to start well after age 1 or allow gaps in passport validity. Plus, many/most countries require 6 months of validity to enter, which squeezes you on the back end.

2
dfw88 Guest

I've done passports for two babies and the photos are definitely the hardest part. The good news is that the State Department is very forgiving with baby photos (unlike with adult photos, where they're overly pedantic). My now three-year-old doesn't look anything like that photo, but I've never had anyone at an immigration line even notice. My favorite part of the application is getting to write "baby" in the occupation line of the form. My children are officially professional babies, even when they're not babies anymore.

1
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