At What Age Does a Child Need a Passport?

At What Age Does a Child Need a Passport?

If you are planning to take a trip, whether it’s international or domestic, you might be wondering if your children need passports. Since there is a legal minimum age for many other documents, is there a minimum passport age?

There are a couple of different possibilities, depending on where you are traveling and what means of transportation you plan to use.

In the following paragraphs, we will go through all the information you need to understand at what age does a child need a passport and in which cases they are allowed to travel without it.

When to apply for a child’s passport

Unfortunately, there is no minimum passport age: if you are flying to another country with a minor, it’s no longer possible to just use their birth certificate or to have them registered on your passport.

For international air travel, passengers of all ages are required to have a valid passport book. Therefore, if you are flying with a child, they will need to get a passport before taking the trip.

So, if you are planning an international vacation with your family, you will need to apply for passports for all your children.

A child’s passport application is a slightly more complicated process than the one an adult needs to follow.

Don’t worry though, with just a few extra documents, your child will be able to fly without delays.

In addition to all the documents required for an adult’s application, children will need: a signed statement from both parents or legal guardians and their photo ID, a birth certificate, and photocopies of all the listed documents.

Bear in mind that children need to be accompanied by at least one parent to submit the application. If you are a single parent, check out this post to learn how to apply for a child’s passport.

The processing time for a child’s passport application is around 14 weeks, so make sure you apply with enough time before your trip.

Under the age of 16, a child’s passport will be valid for 5 years instead of 10.

Interested in finding out more about passports? Check out:

When does a child not need a passport?

A child’s passport is not always mandatory, there are a few cases in which you can travel with your children without the need for this document.

The first and most common case is domestic flights. When flying inside the country, U.S. citizens are not required to have a passport, most forms of ID will be good enough.

Remember that from May 3, 2023, the Real ID Act will take effect and not all documents will be valid for domestic air travel. To be sure, check if your child’s ID card has “Not for Federal Identification” or “Federal Limits Apply” written on the front. If you find this on your child’s ID card, they will need another form of identification.

Another exception is for land and sea travel to Canada, Mexico, and certain Caribbean islands.

For these destinations, children under 15 only need a birth certificate to cross the border. Also, for closed-loop cruises, a passport book will not be required.

Bear in mind that, if you are planning to fly to any of these countries, the only acceptable document will be a passport book, both for children and adults.

So, even if not strictly necessary, it’s always a good idea to get a child’s passport before traveling or renew it if it’s about to expire.

Need a new photo to apply for a child’s passport? Try Passport Photo Online to take them without wasting any time!

Child’s passport – conclusion

So, as you can see, there is no minimum passport age for international air travel. Your children will definitely need a passport book to fly to another country, no other document will be accepted.

To travel inside the country, however, there will be no need for a passport, just be sure to bring a photo ID and a copy of the child’s birth certificate, to avoid any and all problems.

If you are crossing to Mexico, Canada, or the Caribbean, through land or sea borders, children under 15 will not need a passport. Still, it’s a good idea to have one on hand, in case you need to change the means of transportation for the trip back.

FAQ

At what age do you need a passport? 

Every U.S. citizen, including newborns and infants, needs a valid passport for international air travel. If you plan to fly domestically, most forms of ID will suffice. Also, if you go to Canada, Mexico, and certain Caribbean islands by land or sea, you will make do with just a birth certificate.

Does a child need a passport to fly in the US?

No, for domestic flights, U.S. citizens are not required to show a passport, just a valid ID.

Does a child need a passport to go to Mexico?

To cross the Mexican border on land or sea, children under 15 can just use their birth certificate. To fly, all passengers need a valid passport book.

Does a child need a passport to go to Canada?

To cross the Canadian border on land or sea, children under 15 can just use their birth certificate. To fly, all passengers need a valid passport book.

Does a child need a passport to go to Puerto Rico?

No, Puerto Rico is U.S. territory, so the flight is considered domestic.

At what age does a child need a passport to fly?

For international air travel, all passengers need to show a passport book.

Sources

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