The Traveling Caseys have our very first international trip planned for the last week in August of this year. We started looking into the details of procuring CC's first passport in early June and finally got all of the documents in order to apply this week. I admit that this whole process, although overwhelming at times, was incredibly exciting for me. There is something magical about such an important document for such a squishy little friend (your baby).
The process is fairly straight forward:
Put together your application and supporting documents
Schedule an appointment at an acceptance facility
Show up to the appointment with the application, supporting documents, both parents and money order or credit card
My biggest resource for this whole process was the State Department. Their website is surprisingly easy to navigate with loads of digital tools and FAQs to guide you on your passport journey.
The Application & Supporting Documents
You may need to order a number of documents to get your child their first passport. Depending on the document it can take a little while so my tip here, is start this early. Even if you don't have a trip on the horizon. It can't hurt to be prepared and it will be preferable to go through the process in a non-emergency context.
I labeled a file folder "Carmine's Passport" and added items to it as I tracked them down. The day before our appointment the materials were neatly packaged, in the correct order and ready to go.
Here is what you'll need to include in the package:
You will need to complete form DS-11 for a new or renewed passport for a minor. You can use the online form filler or print a PDF with fillable form fields. Either way you can complete the application and save it for printing later on. The application itself contains a handy dandy check list of all the documents you need and a nice summary of the process and processing times.
Proof of Citizenship
You will need to prove your child is a US Citizen and also prove your relationship to your child.
Your proof of citizenship will be an original copy of your child's birth certificate. You will also need to provide a photocopy of the front and back of the document. I only had one copy of this and didn't want to hand it over so I ordered two additional copies from US Vital Records. This took about 2 weeks to arrive so I am happy we started the whole thing early.
Proof of parental relationship to child
Next, you need to prove you are your child's parents. Your names will ideally be on the birth certificate and thus you just need to provide a copy of your own Passport ID pages and bring your original passport with you to your appointment. You can also provide a number of other IDs. See a full list here.
Again, the State Department website was a fabulous resource. They have a lot of tips on how to capture a good infant passport photo, but what worked for us was putting CC in his Bumbo seat against a white wall and taking a few photos with my phone. I chose the two best options, cropped them into 2"x 2" squares using pages on my mac (you could also use paint on a PC for this).
Next, I placed the photos onto a 4x6 size page in pages and exported to an image. I then used Walgreens online photo print service to print 2 copies of the photos. Bonus, I added a number of other photos I had been meaning to print and waited patiently for them to arrive. They came in the mail 3 days later. I cut out the squares myself and added them to the application package.
This whole process probably took 2 hours of my time, 3 days waiting and 35 cents per print. It sounds like a lot of work but getting the baby to a place that takes passport photos and trying to get him to cooperate and handing over $15 sounds a lot harder to me.
The agent ended up taking the photo of CC smiling and looking slightly off camera. The website says they have to be looking directly at the camera but they seem to be a bit more lenient for cute, squishy, babies.
Schedule an Appointment
Once you have all of your documentation ready to go it is time to make your way to a passport acceptance facility. You can find one here and even make an appointment ahead of time.
Show Up with all Your Stuff
You will need to apply in person for a minor's passport with both parents present. If only one parent can join, you will need some additional documents. Form DS-11 outlines the additional requirements on the first page.
Most passport application centers allow for payment by debit or credit card but in some cases you may need to pay by money order. If that is the case, you can calculate your fees beforehand so there are no surprises. Again, it is all very straightforward and only $80 if you don't need any sort of rush on the order.
Good luck on your passport adventures!