Does My Child Need a New Passport When They Turn 16?

teenager girl with phone in hand and inscription "Does my child need a passport when she turns 16"

Have any of your children’s passports expired? Or perhaps their expiration date is approaching fast? You’ve probably heard about some of the differences between child passports and adult passports, but keep reading to find out whether your child needs a new type of passport when they turn 16 (sixteen).

Whether your son or daughter requires a new passport when they turn 16 (sixteen) depends on one thing: When does their current U.S. child passport expire? Parents are often surprised to learn that child passports can be used without any problems until expiry—even if the individual is no longer considered a minor.

Thus, your soon-to-be 16-year-old can keep traveling on their child passport as long as it is still valid. However, if the minor is 16 (sixteen) or older and their child passport is near expiry, they must apply for a 10-year U.S. adult passport. 

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Does my 16-year-old apply for an adult passport?

According to official regulations, teenagers aged 16 (sixteen) or 17 (seventeen), fall into a specific category of passport applicant. At the age of 16 (sixteen), teens are eligible for a new adult passport, which is valid for 10 (ten) years instead of the 5-year validity typical of child passports. Thus, even though under American law, individuals are not legally considered adults until the age of 18 (eighteen), they can still apply for a U.S. adult passport.

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To do so, applicants aged 17 (seventeen) and under must appear in person and submit a passport renewal application (Form DS-11) at a U.S. passport office. Unfortunately, they are ineligible for mail-in passport renewals using Form DS-82.

However, as stated earlier, it is perfectly fine for individuals to use their child passports above the age of 16 (sixteen), provided they are still valid. In fact, if a child passport renewal was conducted when the applicant was 15 (fifteen), it is theoretically possible to travel on a child passport even if the individual is now in their 20s!

How to renew a child’s passport?

Firstly, regardless of the teen’s age, applicants must show official identification when applying for a U.S. passport renewal. Teens must prove their identity by submitting a copy of one of the following documents:

  • expired passport card
  • passport book,  does not matter whether  it has expired already
  • driver’s license
  • different forms of photo ID (student ID card, youth card, etc.).

In case the teen doesn’t have one of these documents available, it is necessary to show other documents such as the Social Security Card, health insurance card, or school ID card, among others. More than one of these documents may be requested, so make sure you have as many forms of identification as possible.

Do you want to learn more about passports? Check these out:

Applicants aged 16 (sixteen) and younger must submit relevant documentation where the specific consent of both parents can be proven.

Alternatively, it is possible to accompany your child to the passport office where he/she is to have their new passport issued. This will serve as proof of the parents’ consent, however, it is recommended that both parents attend. In the case of only one parent accompanying the child applicant, Form DS-3053 will need to be submitted to prove parental consent of the other parent (where applicable).

Individuals, aged 16 (sixteen) or older, can apply for a U.S. passport without full parental consent, though they will need to submit the parental awareness document proving that their parents are aware of their passport application. This  duly completed and signed letter must be submitted to the U.S. passport office.

Remember that at least one parent should attach a copy of his/her driver’s license to the teen’s U.S. passport application as well, as it is essential to begin the renewal. 

A child’s passport application fee

Passport fees differ depending on whether the teen is under or over 16 (sixteen) years of age.

If the applicant is under 16 (sixteen) years of age, a passport book is $80, while a passport card is $15 (with both the book and the card being valid for 5 (five) years).

Individuals who are 16 (sixteen) or older receive documents with 10-year validity and need to pay $110 for the passport book and $30 for the passport card.

In addition, regardless of the applicant’s age, a $35 execution fee must be paid for every passport renewal or application conducted at a U.S. passport facility. However, it is possible to obtain both a passport book and passport card simultaneously, without having to pay the execution fee twice.

In case you are in a hurry and need to obtain one of these documents as soon as possible, you can pay a $60 fee to expedite the passport process.

U.S. child’s passport—required documentation 

Though many of them have already been mentioned, it is quite important to clarify what documents a teen should submit when applying for a U.S. passport, such as:

  • a photocopy of U.S. citizenship evidence such as a U.S. birth certificate or expired/ soon-to-expire U.S. child passport;
  • a photocopy of the applicant’s ID;
  • a declaration of parental awareness or consent, depending on the teen’s age;
  • a duly completed passport application;
  • a receipt proving that the applicant has paid the corresponding fees;
  • U.S. passport photo.

U.S. child’s passport–photos

Since there are certain requirements for U.S. passport photos, submission of a non-compliant picture can result in your application being rejected. Read through the list below to learn the requirements for U.S. passport photos:

  • The picture must be recent (taken in the last 6 (six) months).
  • Photo background must be plain and white or off-white.
  • The correct size for a passport photo in the U.S. is 2×2 inches (51×51 cm).
  • It is important to have a neutral facial expression. Smiling is not allowed.
  • Do not use glasses, hats, or items that may make the identification of your facial features difficult.
  • Look straight at the camera with your full face in view.
  • The top of your shoulders must be visible.
  • Do not wear extravagant clothing or uniforms. You should wear normal clothing.

Note: wearing glasses can be accepted as long as the applicant submits medical proof. Moreover, you can wear hats or other headwear if this is due to your religious beliefs.

Passport Photo Online–the perfect choice for teens

Nowadays, teens rely on their phones for pretty much everything. So why would they wait in line at a photo booth or make an appointment at a photo studio if they can get their passport photos directly on the smartphones?

There is no logical explanation. Using your smartphone for passport photos is convenient and intuitive—if you’re savvy enough to order take-out or a taxi using your phone, you can figure out how to get high-quality passport photos done using our dedicated Android or iOS applications.

Simply download the app, snap as many photos as you want, and we’ll take care of the rest. Best of all, with Passport Photo Online, your photos are guaranteed to be accepted by the authorities: 100% compliance or double your money back!

Does my child need a new passport at 16: FAQ

Read through the following questions and answers for a better understanding of the topic at hand.

Why is the passport renewal process different for teens aged 16 and younger?

Applicants should keep in mind that the documents to be attached to the application differ, as well as the fees involved or the different ways of proving the applicant’s identity.
Moreover, the age of your child will determine if parental consent (or one parent’s consent) is required for processing.

How long is a child’s passport valid for?

Passports for teens under 16 (sixteen) years of age will only be valid for 5 (five) years. In turn, those 16 (sixteen) or older get a passport valid for the next 10 (ten) years.

What is the best way to obtain a U.S. passport photo?

Passport Photo Online allows its users to get an official passport photo easily from home. It’s a high-quality service that is 100% reliable. Moreover, the application includes an AI system, professional validation, compliance check, home delivery service, background eraser, and many other features making it a top option.

At what age is an adult passport issued?

Adult passports are issued to U.S. citizens ages 16 (sixteen) and up.

Can a 16 year old travel on a child passport?

Yes, they can (provided the child passport has not expired at the time of travel).

When does a child passport expire?

A child passport expires 5 (five) years from its date of issue. Even if your child was 15 (fifteen) when they received their child passport, it will be valid for the full 5 (five) years and can be used to travel internationally before its expiry date.  

When can a child get a 10-year passport?

10-year adult passports are available to U.S. citizens ages 16 (sixteen) and up.

Why are children’s passports only 5 years?

Child passports are valid for only 5 (five) years due to aging and the periods of rapid growth children experience during childhood.

What passport does a 17-year old need?

A 17-year old applying for their first passport (or doing a passport renewal) will need to apply for a 10-year adult passport. However, if the individual possesses a valid child passport, they can travel with said passport until its validity expires.

Can I use my child passport until it expires?

Yes, you may. Child passports can be used to travel for the full 5-year period as long as they are valid.

Can a 16-year old apply for their own passport?

Yes, they can. However, they must prove at least 1 (one) parent or guardian is aware they are applying for a U.S. passport. The passport officer usually ascertains parental awareness through the presence of a parent during application submission or by way of a signed note from 1 (one) parent.

Passports for 2 year olds are they needed?

All U.S. citizens require a passport for international travel. Newborns, infants, and toddlers must have a valid passport to enter a foreign country.

How often do you change a child’s passport?

Child passports are only valid for 5 (five) years. To avoid travel interruptions, renew your child’s passport before its expiry date.

How long does a newborn passport last?

5 (five) years. Child passports for U.S. citizens under 16 (sixteen) have 5-year validity.

Passport issuance for minors—wrap up

Whether or not your 16-year-old requires a new passport depends on the expiry date of their current passport as it is perfectly legal to travel on a child passport despite being over the age of 16 (sixteen). As long as the passport has not expired, it remains valid for international travel.16 and 17-year-olds who are applying for their first passport or doing a passport renewal, must apply for a 10-year passport with additional documentation proving parental awareness of commencing the procedure.

No matter the passport you’re applying for – the adult 10-year or the child 5-year– you’re going to need some quality passport photos to ensure your application gets accepted. With Passport Photo Online, you get high-quality passport photos using only your cell phone–no lines or appointments required. You also get the best warranty in the business: 100% compliance or double your money back. So what are you waiting for?

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