Why do babies need passports?

The fact that babies even require a passport may seem a bit strange, but next year will mark 20 years since the government introduced new laws requiring babies to have their own passport. That means we’ve almost had two decades of parents trying to get the perfect baby passport photo so that they can take their baby with them on their travels, but why exactly do babies require a passport in the first place?

Back in 1998, the then Immigration Minister, Mike O’Brien said that child abductions were among the reasons for introducing the new rules. In 1996, there were 374 children who were removed from the custody of their parents illegally and the government acted swiftly to bring in new laws in an attempt to bring the number of abductions down. O’Brien went on to say that child abduction was a problem that was ‘growing’ and with international travel becoming a lot easier, and more people having children outside of marriage, it ‘further complicated’ the situation and forced the government into introducing passports for children.

When the law was introduced, it affected half a million under 16s who would be applying for a passport for the first time. The new passports would last five years instead of adult passports which last 10, a rule which hasn’t changed since the passports have been introduced. Up until then, children didn’t require their own passport and would be entitled to travel on their parent’s passport.

One of the biggest challenges surrounding the new passports was the fact that a child would look very different in a short space of time, so if, for example, a child of three had a passport with a photo in it from when they were a baby, parents may have been required to replace the passport. In fact, the Passport Agency even stated that it was ‘incumbent on the parents’ to ensure their child got a new passport if their appearance changed.

Today, passports for babies and children are just part and parcel of travelling, although getting a baby passport photo can be challenging. If you need any help capturing the perfect passport photo for your baby or toddler, read our guide on how to take a passport photo of your baby.

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