In the United States, every citizen has the right to apply for a passport, regardless of their age.
But it only makes sense that until some age, parents should be present with the child during the application process or even apply in the name of the baby altogether. After all, we can hardly imagine a newborn submitting official US passport application papers.
Therefore, to some extent, parents should be present. But the question is, do both parents need to be present for the child’s passport application?
As with most governmental institutions, the answer is not so straightforward. Have a look at the article to see which case applies to you.
Do both parents have to be present to get a US passport for a child?
Let’s dive right into the case and see what the US Department of State has to say in that matter.
The official position of the US authorities is clear: if you wish to apply for a US passport for your child aged under 16, both parents or legal guardians must be present at the passport acceptance facility.
Moreover, the application can only be submitted in person—the option to renew a passport by mail is not available for children. The US Department of State has not yet introduced online applications either.
That should clear the case for the majority. But what about the other cases:
- sole legal custody of the child;
- one parent unable to come;
- difficulties locating the other parent;
- neither parent is able to come.
Can you get a child’s passport without both parents?
If you fall under any of the above-mentioned categories, there is good news for you—the US government has foreseen such circumstances and prepared special procedures.
Suppose you are a parent with legally granted sole custody over your child—in that case, to apply for your child’s US passport, you must provide evidence of custody. This could be:
- a court order;
- the child’s birth certificate or an adoption decree listing you as the sole legal guardian;
- a death certificate of a spouse.
In case one parent cannot appear in person, written consent from that guardian for the child’s passport must be delivered to the acceptance facility with that parent’s ID photocopy. For the parent’s permission, a special form must be completed: DS-3053.
If you cannot locate the other legal guardian for any reason—whether it is a military mission or restraining order—you must carefully fill out a special form: DS-5525. Based on that form, a local passport acceptance agent will determine whether in your situation a US passport may be issued to your child.
The last option is for parents to give consent to a third party to submit your child passport application papers in their name. For doing so, filling out the DS-3053 form is necessary—it mandates a third party to apply for your child’s passport.
Looking for more tips for your passport application? Look no further:
- Does a Child Need to Be Present for a Passport Application – Quick Answer
- 7 Examples of Rejected Passport Photos [+Commentary]
- DS-11 Passport Form: First Time and Renewals
- At What Age Do You Need a Passport? 
- How To Apply For a Passport for an Adopted Child?
- How to Get a Child’s Passport with One Parent Absent
- Does My Child Need a New Passport When They Turn 16?
Do both parents need to be present to apply for a child passport (age 16 and 17)?
The US child passports are divided into two categories: under 16 (sixteen) years of age and over 16 years of age.
If your child is younger than 16 (sixteen), both parents must be present. However, if your child has surpassed that barrier, parents are no longer required to show up in person at the passport acceptance facility.
In the case of teenagers aged 16 (sixteen) and 17 (seventeen), parental consent is no longer needed—instead, only an act of awareness is required.
Act of awareness can be anything from:
- writing the check in your (parent’s) name for passport fees;
- submitting a signed note from parents (no special form is needed);
- showing up with your child at the passport office (both parents are not obligatory anymore).
In any case, it is good to equip your child with a photocopy of your ID—especially if the child will be submitting papers by themselves.
Children aged over 16 are treated partially like adults, hence less strict passport application rules.
Picture for a child’s passport: Passport Photo Online
Submitting your child’s passport application papers is only a partial success. You still need to get a proper passport photograph (2 by 2 inches).
Visiting a studio or a local photo booth may be inconvenient, especially if you have little kids who do not understand passport photography’s importance.
In that case, it is best to take the pictures at home, where your child feels safe and comfortable. And here comes our professional passport photo tool: Passport Photo Online.
Passport Photo Online is an advanced and automated passport photo tool that, in a matter of 3 seconds, can transform an ordinary smartphone picture of your child into a legitimate passport photo.
The most significant advantage of using this tool is the fact that you can snap the picture anywhere, with no need to find a white background—the tool replaces any surroundings with a plain white background automatically.
That means you can even snap your baby’s passport photo while it lies comfortably in its bed!
Snapping a good passport picture of a child may be tricky—especially with limited tries, and in a stressful environment of a studio. Passport Photo Online lets you take unlimited tries in a safe and comfortable space—your own home.
Can you get a child’s passport without both parents: FAQ
Below you can find answers to the most common questions about parents’ presence for a child’s passport application.
Do both parents need to be present when getting a US passport for a child?
That depends. If your child is younger than 16 (sixteen) years old, then the US Department of State requires both parents or legal guardians to be present at the passport acceptance facility. If your child is older, one or both parents are acceptable.
Do both parents need to be present for the passport if the child is 16?
Both parents are not needed. If your child is 16 or 17 years old, both parents are no longer required to be present at the passport office. In that case, only one parent is sufficient.
Can you get a child’s US passport without both parents?
You can get a child’s passport without both parents. The US Department of State has foreseen options to issue a child’s US passport without both parents.
If you have sole custody over the child, you must simply bring evidence of that. Parents can also give written permission for the child’s passport, completing a dedicated form.
In case one legal guardian cannot be contacted, the other parent can file a special application describing the situation to passport clerks.
If neither of the parents can be present, a special consent form can be given to a third party to apply for the child’s passport.
Do both parents need to be present for a child’s passport: closing thoughts
The general rule of thumb regarding US passports for children is that both parents should be present to submit the application. There are some exceptional cases in which one parent can apply for the child’s passport, but only in specific circumstances.
Rules are a bit less strict for teenagers aged 16 and 17, and the US Department of State no longer requires both parents to be present.
In any case, a solid passport photograph is required. And one of the best options to get a child’s passport picture is to use Passport Photo Online—a tool that allows parents to take passport photos of their children from home.
Adam is an SEO & Digital PR writer with a child’s curiosity about the surrounding world. His superpower to dig out juicy facts got him citations in Forbes, Social Media Today, and 90+ other news outlets. Adam enjoys snapping pictures and won the national Huawei Next Image Award.