5 frequently asked questions about child passports and child passport photos

While the passport process isn’t all that complicated, it can feel quite daunting when you need to get one in a hurry for a child or infant. To make sure the process is as painless as possible, we’ve put together a list of five of the most frequently asked questions from parents looking to obtain passports for their children.

1. Does my child need a passport?

Any child, even a newborn infant, needs to have a passport if they are traveling between nations. This includes all the normal paperwork involved.

2. How long does a child passport last?

Your child passport will last five years, even if your child ages significantly and doesn’t really look like their passport photo anymore. While you’re not required to update the photos until renewal time, many opt to do so to avoid problems caused by a conflict between the photos and the older child’s features.

3. Can I be in the photo?

No one else can be in a passport photo, even one for a newborn. This includes visible limbs propping a baby up.

4. Does my child’s passport need a signature?

Yes, but it doesn’t have to be your child’s if they’re too young to sign for themselves. Instead, print the child’s name, sign your own, and place in parentheses your relationship (mother or father).

5. What do I need to know about my child’s passport photo?

All the usual rules of passports apply to child passport photos, even those which can be much more difficult to adhere to when dealing with infants and other young children. For example, expressions which excessively distort the face, hats and other coverings, pacifiers and bottles, and similar items can all disqualify a photo’s validity.

As you can see, the process is mostly painless aside from the issue of acceptable photographs. To give yourself the best opportunity for photos, we recommend taking your own photos with a suitable camera, and submitting them through an online passport photo service. This lets you get photos without the stresses or cost of a photo booth, and vet them before submission.

Photo: FAQ by Skley licensed under Creative commons 2

How to prop your baby up for a passport photo

Your baby’s passport photo has the same kinds of requirements as a regular adult passport photo. One of those requirements is that only your baby is permitted to be in the photo. You can’t be in the passport photo holding your baby in your arms or even have your hands in the photo. This becomes a tricky requirement for babies who are not yet able to hold themselves in a sitting position, especially when the passport photo place only has a high stool for them to sit on. Here are some tips for propping your baby up for their passport photo.

1. Use cushioning

Lay cushions or pillows on the floor around the chair or stool to make the environment safer for your baby. If you lose balance there will be a soft place. The cushioning will also help you as you have to sit or kneel as you hold your baby.

2. Understand the photo perimeters

Ask the passport photographer to show or tell you exactly where the bottom photo border will be. This will let you know precisely where you can hold your baby without having your hands show up in the passport photo.

3. Bring a support ring

If your baby will be seated on a wide enough stool, you may be able to use a baby support ring, commonly known as a Bobby pillow. This will help position your baby on the stool.

4. Kneel down to hold your baby

For the actual photograph, kneel down behind your baby and tuck your head down when the photographer states he’s ready to take the photo. Ask him to make sure the top of your head is not seen behind your baby.

5. Position your hands

Place one hand firmly on your baby’s back to support their upright position. Keep one or two fingers behind your baby’s head to help with support there. Place the other hand around the lower part of your baby’s waist to prevent your baby from leaning forward.

Propping your baby up for the passport photo is a little awkward, but it only lasts for a few minutes. The important thing is now your baby will be free to travel with you and your spouse.

Where can I get baby passport photos taken?

When you are traveling domestically or abroad with a baby or child, the passport photos are often the only government issued photographic identification parents have for their children. Baby passport photos have a reputation for being a challenge to parents, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Yes, it is true that all passport photos must adhere to the requirements set forth by the United States Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs. With the rare exception for newborns, a baby passport photo and child passport photo must meet the same requirements as an adult passport picture. Getting baby passport photos taken can be a stress-free experience.

Where can I get baby passport photos taken?

Our advice: take the baby passport photo yourself. Babies tend to be fussy with strangers. Even the Duchess of Cambridge chose to have a family member take the first released photograph of Prince George. Take a tip from the Duchess and treat your baby like a royal: take the baby passport photo yourself. With Paspic.com, you have the freedom to submit several baby passport pictures to ensure the passport photo meets the Passport Agency’s requirements.

Why take baby passport photos yourself?

There are two main advantages to taking the baby passport picture yourself: it’s convenient and relatively stress-free. You have the convenience to take the passport photos on the baby’s schedule. This eliminates the stress and expense of keeping an appointment with a professional photographer. Parents can easily meet the requirements for a baby passport. It doesn’t have to be a daunting task.

What are the regulations for a baby passport photo?

The United States Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs outlines the requirements for passport photos. The general requirements include: front facing, neutral expression, eyes open, white background, full face visible. The baby passport photo must show a clear, shadow-free image of the baby in a front facing position with the full face visible, and without its head tilted or rotated to the side. No shadows, no motion blur, and no exaggerated expressions are permitted. The background of the baby passport photo cannot have a parent or car seat holding the baby up. The baby cannot have its hands near the face (or in the photograph.) The baby cannot have a foreign object, such as a blanket, toy, or pacifier, in the photo.

The Passport Agency only makes one exception for passport photos: newborns can be photographed without fully opened eyes. Other than that one exception, a baby passport photo and child passport photo must meet the Department of State’s passport photo guidelines. If your baby is older than 28 days, don’t gamble with the passport picture regulations. Take your baby passport photo yourself and trust Paspic.com to find an approved passport picture.

Keep the baby passport photograph a experience stress-free by taking the baby passport photo yourself.

Tips for keeping your passport in good condition

It’s more-or-less common sense to keep your passport photos in good condition. A damaged passport photo can cause almost as much, if not as much, strife as a lost or stolen one – after all, your passport is considered to be government property. If it becomes damaged in any way, the passport could become invalidated and wreck your travel plans, as well as lose its status as proof of your citizenship. It could cost you entry into other countries – which creates an obvious hiccup in your plans – or cause any other number of inconvenient and just plain undesirable situations.

To keep your passport safe from damage:

1) Keep it in a designated passport holder

The few dollars you will spend upfront on a passport holder will pay off in dividends. Don’t just cram your passport into your pocket, briefcase, suitcase, or purse; this practically guarantees that the passport will crease, fray, and/or tear. Better yet, get a waterproof holder so that you aren’t worrying about your passport while enjoying the salty sea breezes on a cruise, or splashing about in the waves at the beach!

2) Keep your passport in a secure, dry place

When you aren’t carrying your passport with you, make sure that you’re storing it somewhere safe, such as a dark, cool closet shelf. Keep it out of bathrooms, locker rooms, and other places where moisture and bacteria gather, as these places are just begging for water, and eventually mold, to collect on your passport and destroy it.

3) Keep your passport pictures tucked out of sight

If you must carry your passport with you (optimally it will spend much of its time abroad locked securely in a safe), make sure that it is secured in your backpack, luggage or purse. Don’t carry it sticking out from your back pocket or crammed into the side pocket of a backpack, as that almost guarantees it will fall out or get stolen.

These are just a few precautions to take in order to ensure your passport is kept safe, secure, and in great condition.

Passports for intercountry adoptees

In the past, acquiring citizenship — a pre-requisite for a passport — for a child adopted abroad was both time consuming and expensive. However, acquiring U.S. citizenship for you child became much easier following the The Child Citizenship Act of 2000. Any child adopted overseas acquires U.S. citizenship automatically if the circumstances of the adoption fulfill one of three requirements:

1) If the child is in the “legal and physical custody” of a U.S. citizen, the child is eligible for citizenship.

2) If the child is admitted to the United States as an “immigrant for lawful permanent residence”.

3) If the child’s adoption is finalized.

It is important to be aware, before a child’s U.S. parent(s) can apply for citizenship and a passport, the child’s adoption must be recognized by the United States Department of State. The U.S. does not necessarily recognize the legality of an adoption that occurs in another country. Hence, just because another country recognizes the adoption does not mean the child is automatically eligible for a U.S. passport to travel of his or her country of birth.

Unrecognized adoption

If the United States Department does not recognize the adoption of a child, the U.S. parents can still apply for citizenship by filing either a IH-4 or IR-4 visa application. These applications require a fee as well as passport photos. The child passport photos must meet U.S. Department of State standards.

Adult children of U.S. citizens who have never applied for citizenship themselves can do so by applying for citizenship through naturalization. This requires the filing of an N-400 form. Particularly if a child’s parents were married at the time the child was born, the adult child of a U.S. Citizen(s) has a very good chance of being recognized as a naturalized citizen and may be eligible for a U.S. Passport.

Upon being recognized as a naturalized U.S. Citizen, both a child or an adult are eligible for a U.S. Passport. All that is required is the completion of a DS-11 Form accompanied by the child’s adoption papers or U.S. Child Born Abroad Birth Certificate, a fee, and two passport photos that meet Department of State Standards.

How to obtain a passport for a child born abroad

Traveling is easier than ever before and it is not uncommon for US citizens to be born abroad. Fortunately, US embassies and consulates make obtaining a birth certificate and passport for a child born abroad very easy. There are only three steps for obtaining your child’s passport and birth certificate if the baby was born abroad.

1) Parents must obtain form FS-240 from the embassy or US consulate. The FS-240 form is called a “Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America (CRBA)” and if accepted, it documents that the child born abroad is a US citizen. To obtain a CRBA, the US citizen parent or parents of the child must simply present their passport at the embassy and request the CRBA.

2) At the same time parents complete the CRBA, the parents can apply for the child’s passport. The application requires the parents fill out Form DS-1350, “Certification of Report of Birth”. In addition to filling out the application and paying a fee, two baby passport photos are required. The child passport photos must meet passport photo specifications.

For adults — people 18 years of age or older — born abroad to US citizens, applying for a birth certificate and a passport requires a “Certificate of Citizenship to document acquisition pursuant to 8 USC 1452.”

When applying for a birth certificate for a child born abroad, there are a few things to remember:

• The US embassy or consulate will only provide one certified birth certificate. If the birth certificate is lost or stolen, the parents of the child must apply for a replacement. However, parents may request several copies of the birth certificate, though the birth certificates will not be certified.

• There are several US territories that do not require a CRBA: Swains Island; Puerto Rico; American Samoa; the US Virgin Islands; Guam; the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands after January 8, 1978 (8PM EST); The Panama Canal Zone before October 1, 1979; and the Philippines before July 4, 1946. People born in these territories are considered US citizens.

3 circumstances where you will need to renew your passport

Many people don’t often think about renewing their passports. After all, your passport is valid for a period of 10 years if you were aged 16 or older when it was issued. However, there are reasons you may need to renew your passport sooner rather than later.

1. If your passport is expired or expiring soon

The issue date of your passport is located on the data page at the front of the booklet. The U.S. Department of State recommends renewing your passport at least six months before it expires. Some countries will not permit you to enter if your passport will expire within six months and especially if it will expire while you are present in the country. If your passport has already expired, you can still renew it instead of applying for a new one if you meet certain requirements. Simply apply with form DS-82 through the mail.

2. If your passport is badly damaged

It’s expected that passports will experience some wear and tear over several years of use, and bended corners or frayed pages are not considered sufficient enough damage to require a new passport. However, if your passport is damaged to the point where it is difficult or impossible to decipher identifying information, you will need a new one. Significant damage may include water damage, large tears, unofficial markings on the data page, missing visa pages, holes, or other obstructions. To replace a damaged passport, you will need to apply in person and present the damaged passport, a statement explaining the damage, and form DS-11.

3. If your name has changed

Whether you changed your name through marriage, divorce, or court proceedings, you will need to update your passport accordingly. If your passport was issued within the last year, you’re in luck. You simply need to submit form DS-5504 through the mail with your passport, your original or certified name change document, and a valid passport photo. If your passport was issued over a year ago, you must submit form DS-82 through the mail with all required documents, as well as pay all applicable fees.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Keep your passport up to date!

Congrats on getting married, now go update your passport!

The color scheme was perfect, everyone loved the food, and even the bridesmaids liked their dresses! All in all, your wedding was pretty much everything you’ve ever dreamed of. Now all you have to do is grab your luggage, head to the airport and get to your tropical hideaway for the best week of your life – the honeymoon. Now since your driver’s license and other forms of ID are still in your maiden name, your passport that still identifies you under your maiden name will be just fine for the honeymoon, but every international foray you embark on after that, you’ve got some work to do.

First of all, any time you have legally gone through a name change for reasons like marriage, divorce, or a court ordered name change, you have to go through the process of getting a new passport. Depending on how long it has been since your existing passport was issued, the cost to do so will vary. If your existing passport is less than a year old, you’re in luck: no passport processing fees are required. If it’s been more than a year, you might be eligible to use Form DS-82.

What is Form DS-82?

The ‘DS’ in Form DS-82 stands for Department of State, the government department that oversees United States citizen international travel and overall diplomacy. Not everyone is eligible to use Form DS-82, the form can only be used if the following criteria can be met:

• You are able to produce your most recent passport
• You were 16 years of age or older when you were issued your most recent passport
• Your most recent passport is less than 15 years old
• Your most recent passport was not physically damaged
• You use the same name as the name on your most recent passport, OR you have changed your legal name by marriage or court order, AND can produce proper original documentation to support the name change

If you are not eligible to use Form DS-82, the process of obtaining a new passport is much more tedious. The first step is to submit Form DS-11 in person at an applicable U.S. Passport facility. In addition to Form DS-11, you must provide:

• Evidence of United States citizenship
• An certified or original name change document
• Valid identification document
• A color passport photo

Who ever knew that getting married was so much work?!