One of the top family travel suggestions we always share with readers is to be prepared for your upcoming trip. Now is the time to start planning for your family summer vacation. If you are considering traveling abroad with your children and they do not already have a passport, this is something you need to address now. A passport is necessary anytime when traveling outside the United States at any age as an American citizen. There is a process involved and so it is important to familiarize yourself with how obtain a passport and the timeline involved so that your summer plans go smoothly.
The United States Department of State has a wonderful website dedicated to helping citizens learn how to apply for a passport (http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports.html). It explains many aspects of the process; most importantly it identifies which individuals can apply for a passport by mail or in person. For children under the age of 16, no matter if it is a first time application or renewal they must apply for their passport in person with their parents or guardians present. A United States passport for children under the age of 16 is valid for 5 years so it is very likely that you may have to renew your little ones passport at some point and will have to do so in person. If both of the parents or guardians cannot be present they should provide consent in writing so that it is documented they approve of the application. Locations for applying for a passport are provided on the State Departments website. One of the most common and accessible locations to apply is from your local post office. Not every post office provides this service, however you can contact the postal service to find out if they do.
The day of your passport application submission, you will need to include a number of items to properly identify your child and yourself. According to the Department of States website, you will need to have with you evidence of U.S. Citizenship; evidence of parental relationship; photo identification; parental consent; passport photo; application forms; passport fees. More in depth explanations of each of these areas is also provided at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports/under-16.html to guide this process. There are elements of this process you can complete ahead of your visit such as passport photo. This may be a good idea if your children are very young because you can feel free to take your time during the photo process rather than feeling stressed about running out of time during your appointment. Many establishments provide passport photos; some are more willing than others to provide convenient service to young babies. From experience, a general pharmacy that provides passport photos can be a good family friendly place to have your pictures taken. Laying your baby down on a big sheet of white paper might be more convenient than attempting to lift your child with the white screen behind you.
Once you have arrived at your appointment and submitted your paperwork for your passport application you will need to make a payment for submission. Minors have a different fee than adults. In addition, there is a general fee and an expedited fee if you would like to have your passport processed faster. There are also a number of fees related to special services that arise in certain applications for a full list of fees, please visit the State Department passport page. After your payment has been made you have completed the process of applying for a passport for your child. Now you will just need to wait for it to be returned to you by mail. If you have any questions or concerns during the time your application is being processed you can always contact The National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778.
Applying for a passport on behalf of your child is a wonderful and exciting step in family travel. It opens the opportunity to traveling abroad, exploring new places and cultures. We hope that you will have a beautiful summer vacation filled with many adventures.