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.
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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