Baby is taking their 1st flight. Do they need a passport? How do you get one? How long will it take? We’ve got the lowdown on getting (mile) high. Read on
While the idea of getting away from it all with your brand new baby sounds idyllic, don’t forget to do the proper admin before you go.
Meds, feeding requirements, baby’s binky and… Wait, hold up. Do babies need passports?
Let’s take a look.
In this article: 📝
- Can a baby travel without a passport?
- What happens if a baby doesn’t have a passport?
- How to apply for baby’s passport.
Can a baby travel without a passport?
Every traveler, no matter how adorable, needs a passport to enter almost all foreign countries.
And sometimes a visa, too.
It’s always worth double-checking the requirements of your destination country well beforehand.
There are a few exceptions.
If your baby is a U.S. citizen, traveling to Mexico and Canada might not require a passport.
Do babies need passports to go to Mexico?
It depends on how you’re getting there.
Every traveler entering Mexico by air needs a standard valid passport, including babies.
When entering via a land border, however, U.S. citizens don’t need a passport.
Travel.State.Gov recommends having a passport card (fits in your pocket, and cheaper to get, but not valid for air travel) simply to make the land border crossing into Mexico quicker.
Children under the age of 16 can make the land/sea border crossing with their birth certificate alone.
Do babies need passports to go to Canada?
When it comes to Canada, a valid U.S. passport, passport card, or NEXUS card is required by adults.
Children under 16 only need proof of U.S. citizenship.
What happens if a baby doesn’t have a passport?
If baby doesn’t have a passport (or a birth certificate, in the case of the few countries with travel exemptions for U.S. citizens), they cannot legally enter that country. It could mean you are refused entry and have to travel back home.
In addition, if not traveling with both parents, the Department of State suggests carrying a consent letter from the other parent(s).
This is in part due to the rise in instances of child abduction in custody cases, as well as growing concerns around child trafficking.
How to apply for baby’s passport.
The process of applying for a passport for your baby can be a little tricky.
Mostly because you’ll need to do it in person — not by mail — and both parents have to be present.
Full details are available on the travel.state.gov website, but let us break it down for you.
- First, fill out the DS-11 form. It should be printed single-sided. Leave off your signature until you are physically present at the appointment.
- Make a copy of your baby’s U.S birth certificate, and take both the copy and original to the appointment. The original will be sent back to you along with baby’s passport.
- Make an appointment with either a passport agency or a local post office that accepts passport applications. Here is a handy link to track down what is closest to you. Allow plenty of time in case the agency is very busy. This is not a mission to undertake 10 minutes before naptime.
- Both parents must attend the appointment along with baby — this is a family affair! If this isn’t possible, have a look on the State Department website to find out what documentation you need to proceed.
- Both you and your partner will need to bring copies of your identification. A full list of acceptable methods of ID are available on the State Department site.
- Bring two copies of a photo of your baby. Remember to follow all the specifications for acceptable passport photos. Baby needs to be alone in the picture facing the camera. Tip: if your baby can’t sit up yet, you can lay them on the floor on a big white sheet or piece of paper.
- In the actual appointment, you’ll sign the DS-11 form in front of the person accepting the application and pay the fee. At the time of writing, fees are $100 for the application, plus a $35 acceptance fee, which should be paid separately.
- Usually, passports take eight to ten weeks to process. You can have it expedited for an additional fee. Once it’s submitted, you can track your application online here.
The good news is that, while this process can feel complicated, you only have to do it once every 5 years!
The not-so-great news is that all children under 16 have to apply in person with their guardians, even if renewing their passport.
One last thing, before you hit the skies, check out our top tips for flying with a baby.