One of the perks of my job as a meeting planner is the opportunity to travel all over the world. When we had Aiden, Dan and I knew that we wanted to bring him to some of the destinations I visit. The good thing about traveling with a baby is that when they are under two they can travel for free. We tried to take advantage of that during Aiden’s first year and did a few trips within the US. This year, we are heading to Montreal, Canada so that opened up a new complication because in order to travel internationally a baby needs a passport. This post is all about getting a passport for a baby.
Getting a passport for a baby seemed overwhelming. If you have gone through the process yourself you know that there are some strict standards for how the picture must look and I was not very confident that any Joe at CVS would take a picture of my squirmy baby that would work for an official passport photo.
Luckily, we have some friends who travel internationally frequently with their baby so we asked them for some advice. They were able to recommend a place that is experienced in taking passport photos for babies. That is my number one tip. Find someone experienced who has taken passport photos for babies multiple times and is comfortable doing it.
A good place to start might be the US Post Office because they take so many. You can even have them do it on the day you apply. I chose not to do this because I was nervous that Aiden wouldn’t cooperate…I didn’t want to lose the appointment!
Once you have the pictures done it’s fairly easy to do the rest. You will need to schedule an appointment at an official passport office or a United States Post Office that does passports. Make sure you call well before your trip because it could take several weeks to get an appointment. We got lucky and called right after someone cancelled and got an appointment two weeks after I called. Be prepared that both parents must be present with the baby. If one parent is not available you have to get a certified letter.
Make sure you confirm everything you need for the appointment when you schedule. You don’t want to show up and find out you don’t have something. We brought:
- Original birth certificate for Aiden
- Copies of Dan and my birth certificates
- Copies of valid US driver’s license for Dan and me
- A completed application. We filled out form DS-11. This form is for first time applicants or first time/renewals for children under 16.
- Checkbook. Although it says online that they accept credit cards we were told once we got there that paying by check is easier. We had to write two. One for the services of USPS and one for the actual passport application fee.
They take all the original documents and about a month later we received two letters. One with the passport and one with Aiden’s documents.
The hardest part of applying for a passport for a baby or toddler is definitely the picture. Once you’ve gotten that done the rest is pretty easy. Don’t forget that your baby’s passport will only be valid for five years (instead of 10 like an adult’s passport).
Did you ever have to apply for a passport for a baby? What was your experience?
If you liked this post check out Baby on Vacation — Packing and Baby on Vacation — Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.