How to Get Your Baby’s First Passport

We just applied for Xander’s first passport, and I thought I would share what we learned about the process in case anyone else is about to go through it.

For starters, yes, a baby (no matter how young!) needs to have their own passport. Once upon a time, they were included with a parent’s passport, but that is no longer the case. The application must be submitted in person at a passport agency or acceptance facility. I highly recommend finding a smaller acceptance facility where they schedule appointments rather than going to one of the huge passport offices that only take walk-ins. Not only will it be more efficient and you’ll get better service, but you won’t risk contracting the plague (because there is always that person in a huge government office who is coughing like patient zero). We made an appointment and submitted ours at the acceptance office at CSULB, and it was a pleasant experience. BOTH parents either have to be present, or the missing parent has to have already completed and notarized a statement of parental consent (available at the link below).

The documents you will need and some extra info we picked up:

  1. Evidence of U.S. Citizenship:
    • This basically means the baby’s birth certificate unless they weren’t born in the States, in which case you would need another document.
    • You will mail the ORIGINAL birth certificate with the passport application, so be sure you have a copy of it at home in case you need it before they return it to you. If you don’t bring the original, you won’t be able to submit your application.
  2. Evidence of Parental Relationship
    • The birth certificate would suffice for this in most cases.
    • Other common circumstances would be an Adoption Decree or Custody Decree.
  3. Photo Identification
    • To be clear, this is the parents’ IDs, not the baby’s. You can use your driver’s license, but if your license is from a different state than where you are applying, you will need a second form of government issued ID.
    • In addition to your actual licenses, you will need photocopies of both of them to submit with the application.
  4. Parental Consent: Only needed if both parents won’t be present to submit the application. 
  5. Passport Photo
    • Most places where you submit your application will also do the passport photo for you for a fee. Since you’ll have to pay the fee wherever you do it, the simplest option is just to do it at the same time.
    • Keep in mind, the baby will need to be in front of the white background. This will take some troubleshooting if your baby can’t hold their head up yet. If they can support their head, have one parent hold them up in front of the background. Slide your hands under the onesie to keep them out of the photo. Have the other parent do a silly dance behind the camera to hopefully trigger a smile. Not that an angry face wouldn’t be hilarious too.
  6. Application Forms
    • You will need to complete form DS-11 (available on the website below)
    • The only other form you would potentially need is the parental consent form described above.
  7. Passport Fees
    • The fee for a first passport is $110. If you need it expedited, it will be an additional $60.
    • The cost of the photo is usually $15-20.
    • We had to pay the government fee portion by check at the office we went to, so make sure you ask what payment forms they accept before you go. We paid for the photo separately using a credit card.

The standard processing time is 6 weeks.

You can expedite it to arrive in 3 weeks if you pay the additional fee.

If you can show proof of immediate travel, they can do it in 8 business days at a Passport Agency.

Baby’s first passport will be valid for 5 years, so make sure you get a cute picture!

Here is the .gov website that may has additional information if you need it.

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