Does Baby Need a Passport?

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Have Baby Passport, Will Travel

In the “olden days” I was a line on my mother’s passport. When I was old enough to realize this, I demanded a passport of my own.

Which apparently was a real hassle for my mom. Since my parents were divorced and she needed a bunch of special documents to make it happen.

An online passport application form makes things a little easier. But, you still have to get the passport photos and get everything signed. AND (unless you want to mail some fairly significant documents like baby’s birth certificate) you have to head to the passport office.

Baby Passport Application Process

Since September 11, airport security become a nightmare to navigate. And it became necessary for even the tiniest travelers to have official documentation, ie – passports. Essentially the process is the same as for adults. However, both parents must sign the passport application form. Notarized letters must be presented if one parent can not for whatever reason.

In the US, both parents must sign for the first passport in person. The baby or child must be present as well.

Baby Passport Photos

Every country has their own requirements for passport photos. Canada is pretty strict about passport photo requirements. For adult photos they want you expressionless with a closed mouth.

We got my daughter’s done at nine months. At that age whenever she saw a camera she’d burst into a huge grin. There’s an hour of my life lost somewhere in a cramped photo shop. I’ll never get that back. But, we finally managed to get the snap! It does seem that Passport Canada has lightened up a bit with regard to newborns…

You may take a photo of your newborn sitting in a car seat, as long as

-a white blanket is placed over the seat behind your child’s head. This makes your child’s facial features and the edges of your child’s face clear against the background.

-there are no shadows around your child’s ears in the background on your child’s face or shoulders

We know that it is difficult to get a neutral expression from your newborn. We do allow some range for infant facial expressions.

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Drool is apparently OK in a baby passport photo…

Drool is OK

Bub’s baby passport photo was taken at 4 months. Although he was not technically a newborn they did let me off at the passport office for not only an open mouth, but some drool as well.

Passport Canada offers a reduced fee for children’s passports. For infants under 3, the maximum period of validity is 3 years. Babies with a passport issued in their first 12 months may be given a free one-time replacement passport, valid for the balance of the three-year validity period of the original passport.

I don’t know a single family who have done this, even if their child was a few weeks old in the original picture. Proof of parentage is required (like a long-form birth certificate) and all documents referring to custody of, mobility of, or access to the child (for new passport applications only).

Getting a passport in the US seems to be a significantly more painful and expensive process.  While there are 9,000 or so passport acceptance facilities across the country that include many post offices, libraries, local government offices, and courts, you have to call ahead or to make sure they are accepting passport applications on the day you want to go. There are also 14 regional passport centers that operate by appointment only. I now understand that the inconvenience and expense are probably why less than 40% of Americans have passports.

“All children under age 16 must apply for a passport in person with two parents or guardians.”

So to answer the question, does baby need a passport? If you want to travel outside your country, the answer most definitely is yes. There is some leniency if you’re driving between Canada and the US. But, passports still make your lives so much easier in that department.

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9 Responses to Does Baby Need a Passport?

  1. We just went to get my son’s passport renewed this past weekend. We live in Los Angeles. While we didn’t have to call ahead to the Post Office, we did have to note the times they were offering those services on a Saturday, which is very limited.

    Once we got there we quickly found our that even though we had presented my son’s original, long form birth certificate when we first applied for his passport at 8 weeks old, now at nearly 5 years old, we needed to present it AGAIN. So we had to drive back home to retrieve it, luckily we lived close by and made it back in time. Still we were a bit miffed. We had mistakenly thought that renewing a passport for a minor only required that both parents be present to sign not that we need to turn in both his old passport AND an original long form birth certificate. We were told that we would have to do this every time we renew till he is 17 years old.

    • Corinne at #

      Wow. What a nightmare! Has it always been such a hassle, or just since 9/11?

  2. Courtney at #

    My son’s passport photo was taken when he was 6 days old. He was lying on a white rug, my husband used his feet to keep our baby’s hands down and sat above him with the the camera ready. I straighten his head up and let go. My husband quickly snapped photos before his head flopped back to one side. After a few attempts we managed to get a photo with his head straight, eyes open looking at the camera. After this we had to go to the photo shop to get the photo developed and then into the passport office. A few days later our 1 week old had his very own passport, valid for 5 years!

    • Corinne at #

      Wow! That’s awesome, Courtney. It’s cool that you can take your own photos, that’s the one thing that’s a pain here is that the photos must have a stamp on the back and be signed by the photographer.

  3. Les at #

    I was just wondering about this the other day. Glad to know!

  4. Shawna at #

    We went in to have our 3 month old son’s passport photo taken after shopping for an hour. He was sleeping in his stroller with a pacifier in his mouth. When I took it out, he had a red ring on his face, so we had to wait to take the picture until it was gone. Ha ha.

  5. Beth at #

    I got my daughters passport photo taken at about 3 weeks old. We went to Walmart and in hind sight it was rather hilarious.
    The photographer insisted I put my foot up on a stool and put my hand up the back of my daughters dress and hold her head. My finger kept getting in the way and the photographer getting mad at me, started to yell at me that I wasnt doing it right. After telling the man off, we finally got my daughter calmed down enought to hold still and we got a quick picture of her that would work. In order to hide my fingers holding her head I had to hold behind the ears, but that made her ears stick out like Dumbo’s and she had tear stains down her cheeks and her eyes are all watery from crying. My husband and I laugh about the picture, saying its a good thing she will get a new one once she is old enough to realize how goofy this one is.

  6. Mike at #

    For any child under 18 in the US, they have to have a passport to travel outside the country. And unlike the adult passport, it has to be renewed every 5 years (even if they’re 17).

    You do get a reduced rate on the child passport but since you have to renew it twice as often it’s not really a savings.

    Its even more hectic if you have a kid while you’re abroad! You have to apply for the passport ASAP and can’t get back home until its settled. In which case you have to get one expedited through the nearest embassy.

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