First of all, you do need to apply for a passport to travel with a baby internationally. You can travel domestically with just a birth certificate but if you plan on traveling abroad it is a requirement. It is not difficult but it may be time consuming depending on how long the wait is at your local passport office. The hardest part: the baby passport photo. Every time I show someone Harry’s passport photo, they laugh. Mostly because he looks like he is interviewing to be an air marshall at six weeks old. And then they inevitably ask: How do you even get a baby a passport? There are different requirements for children and adult passports. You can start at the Department of State passport website which can find here. Having done this twice now with Jack and Harry, here are a few things to keep in mind when trying to get a baby passport.
- First of all, you can’t just go to Walgreens and get a passport photo. Well you can but you may be there all day trying to get the right picture and there is a much, much easier way to do it. You need to get a good head shot with the baby looking into the camera. Since Harry could hardly focus at six weeks, this proved to be kind of hard. Find a white sheet and lay it on the floor. Put the baby down on the sheet and then stand over the baby with your camera. I recommend doing this after the baby has been fed, changed and otherwise isn’t tired or cranky. Now, you just have to get the baby to look into the camera. You will no doubt have to take a lot of pictures to get the right one. It beats standing in Walgreens while you hold the baby and a stranger takes the photo. After you’ve captured a good shot of the baby looking into the camera, you then take your sim card, or smart phone to a photo kiosk and print out TWO passport size photos.
- Print out the application and use black ink on the application. I found this one out the hard way.
- You will need a copy of the child’s birth certificate. If you don’t have one, you will have to pay to get one.
- BOTH parents will have to go to the passport office to apply. This way they can assure one parent is not trying to take a child across the border illegally. If both parents can’t go together, you have to have a notarized letter explaining why. You will each have to bring your own identification either a driver’s license or passport.
- You will need to get a money order for a portion of the fee. It is a different fee if you are getting an expedited passport versus a regular fee. Check the website because it changes periodically.
- Check and double check that you have the right documents, money orders, pictures (two copies) BEFORE you get there. I did not have a line when I went (Chicago office) but I know if you go at the wrong time you will have a long line and you do not want to wait in the line twice..believe me.
- And finally….bring the baby! This seems like a no-brainer but the baby has to be with you when you apply.
- It usually takes four to six weeks for the passport to come by mail. You can pay extra for an expedited one if your trip is sooner than that.