basic mistakes to avoid when applying for your child’s passport

Hola Lovers!!! If you follow us @allthingsonelove on Instagram, you will see that we recently took our kids to get their first passports!  We have been wanting to do this for several years, so we finally pulled the trigger and I’m glad we did. We have been taking couples’ vacations out of the country for several years and always say we want to share the experiences with our kids. So now that the world is starting to open back up and we have the option to work remotely, why not explore. Where are the Avants going you ask?  We are true southerners when it comes to climate, so traveling to destinations with temperatures below 75 degrees is out of the question. We are currently scouting out the coast of Ecuador as a possible destination for our first international trip with the kids.  We would love for you to follow us on the blog and all social media platforms as we document this exciting journey. Now back to the passports. Below are the steps that we followed to apply for our kid’s passports.  All of the information below can be verified at www.travel.state.gov

Gather Required Documentation

  • We had to submit evidence of the kid’s U.S. citizenship and evidence of parental relationship, so we used their birth certificates.  To ensure that the birth certificates met the necessary requirements, we ordered them directly from our state’s website: texas.gov.  The cost for each long form birth certificate is $22 each and the processing time is 25-30 days. 
  • Passport photos are also required when applying for a U.S. passport.  The photo requirements are very strict, so we had their pictures taken at CVS for $14.99/photo (Our youngest had to retake her picture at the passport office because her headband was showing in the photo, so be make sure to thoroughly review the photo requirements).
  • A passport application (DS-11) is required for each applicant.  The application is a PDF that can be printed and then filled out or you can fill out the application using the Form Filler and then print. DO NOT SIGN APPLICATION UNTIL INSTRUCTED BY ACCEPTANCE AGENT.  The application can be found at www.travel.state.gov. Paper copies are also available at the passport acceptance facilities.
  • Three of our 4 kids are under the age of 16, so both Ken and I had to provide the following documentation:
    • A photocopy of U.S. Citizenship (we used our U.S. passports)
    • A photocopy of ID (driver’s license – front & back)

Book an Appointment

YES, you have to schedule an appointment to apply for your passport if applying in person. Don’t make the mistake that we made and show up 6 people deep, excited and ready to apply because you will surely be turned away. We had to apply in person because three of the kids are under the age of 16. Depending on your location, your passport acceptance facility can be the post office, clerks of court, public libraries and other government offices.  The www.travel.state.gov website allows you to search for these locations using zip code, state, or state/city.  We did a search of locations in our zip code and our chose to apply at the post office.  If one parent/guardian cannot be present at the time of application, then they will have to complete a separate notarized form (DS-3053) giving consent.  The website has further details on this requirement.

Cost

There are 2 fees that you will have to pay when applying for a U.S. passport: an application fee and an acceptance fee.  The application fee for a passport book for each kid under the age of 16 is $80 and the acceptance fee is $35.  The application fee for a passport book for anyone over the age of 16 is $110 and the acceptance fee is $35.  We chose to expedite the passports to ensure they arrive in time and expedited service is an additional $60/passport.  According to the website www.travel.state.gov application and acceptance fees have to paid using checks (personal, cashier’s, traveler’s) or money orders, debit and credit not accepted.  However, we were able to use a debit card to purchase the money orders to pay these fees.  Make sure to verify the acceptable payment methods with the facility beforehand.

Processing Time

Currently the passport processing times are as follows:

  • Routine           10 – 12 weeks
  • Expedited        4 – 6 weeks
  • Limited appointments are also offered for emergency travel (life or death emergency) in which processing times are within 72 hours or 3 business days.

When we initially reviewed the requirements involved with getting our kid’s passport, I’m not gonna lie, it was quite overwhelming. Once we started the process of gathering the required documentation and booking the appointments, we then realized it is not as bad as we thought. Even with a few minor hiccups and setbacks, so far this process has been totally worth it!! We will continue to give you guys updates on our travel plans, so continue to follow along on the blog.  We would love for you to comment, like and share this post if you find this information useful.

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