If you are reading this article, there is a good chance you are either a parent of a child who had a passport issued quite some time ago and it is soon to expire, or you are under-aged yourself, and wondering what happens after turning the milestone ages, such as 18 or 21 years old.
No matter what your case is, you will find some crucial information about passports for minors and children within this article.
Hopefully, this post will help you understand what the official guidelines for U.S. passport renewals are for minors, and when you are obligated to do so.
When do passports for minors expire?
When it comes to official guidelines regulating when a passport is due to expire, there are no differences between minors and adults. All documents are subject to equal treatment in this matter. When is it, therefore, necessary to have your passport renewed?
The first and most obvious situation is when your document is past the expiration date. Depending on the type of passport you have, it will be either 5 or 10 years. For more details, please take a look below.
Additional circumstances that require you to have a new passport issued, are when your appearance has changed significantly, for example, due to cosmetic surgeries around the facial area. A similar rule applies to having added or removed facial tattoos, changed your gender (selecting a new gender marker), and/or gained or lost substantial weight.
Other valid reasons for renewal are when the passport is severely damaged beyond the simple wear and tear, or having your passport stolen. In that case, you need to immediately report to the adequate office and file for a new document. Changing your marital status, and therefore the name, also calls for a new passport.
It is not a generally enforced law, but beware that according to the official regulations, the passport picture should allow for easy identification. Therefore, the border officer might not accept your child’s passport if the picture in it is outdated, even if the document hasn’t expired yet. For this reason, it’s worth considering updating the passport of your child more often than the regulatory 5 years, especially during the early ages.
Please note, however, that in some circumstances you will not be eligible for the simple renewal procedure, and will be mandatory to follow through with the process of issuing a new passport.
Passport nearing its expiry date? Get ahead of the game and up to speed by reading:
- Minor Travel Consent Form
- At What Age Do You Need a Passport? 
- Emergency Travel with an Expired 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?
- Does a Child Need a Passport for Cruises?
How long is the passport for minors valid?
At this point, it is extremely important to notice the difference between a child and a minor, as according to the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs, these are two different categories.
A child is a person who is under 16 (sixteen) years of age. From the perspective of officials, anyone who meets these criteria, from newborn babies to teenagers, falls into this category and is obliged to follow the same rules. During the passport application process, Form DS-11 is required. Passports issued for children before their 16th birthday are valid only for 5 (five) years.
If your, or your child’s, passport issuance occurred before the 16th birthday, there is no possibility of its renewal, even after the expiration date. In such a case, The U.S. Department of State requires that you apply for a new passport, following the same procedures as if it were the first time.
A minor is a person between 16 and 17 years of age. This category is quite peculiar because in order to obtain a passport you need to fill out the DS-11 form and the passport’s legitimacy is the same as for adults, which means it is valid for 10 years from the issuing date.
In the case of minors whose passports were issued after their 16th birthday, the document is renewed following the same rules as with regular passports. The process can be done either via mail or by visiting the adequate office. In this case, the passport renewal is done using the DS-82 form.
Please note that when it comes to renewing passports, it is the date of issue that plays a crucial role, not the current age of its holder. Therefore, if you are after your 16th birthday, but your passport was issued before that date, you cannot renew it. Instead, you need to apply for a new passport in person, using the DS-11 form.
What is the process of applying for passports for minors?
The procedure of applying for a passport, both for children below the age of 16, and minors below the age of 18, is quite similar to regular passport applications. There are, however, a few differences between them that are important to be aware of. The steps are the same for both children and minors.
The application form
Anyone below the age of 18 applying for a passport needs to submit the unsigned DS-11 application form in person to the passport acceptance facility or regional passport agency in the United States, accompanied by both parents, as parental consent is mandatory.
In a case when only one parent or legal guardian can attend, a notarized confirmation from the second parent, or legal evidence of sole custody, is required.
Official documents to prepare
In order to apply for a child’s passport, the following documents will be necessary:
– evidence of the child’s U.S. citizenship (for example child’s birth certificate or naturalization certificate),
– evidence of identity (a passport book or passport card, citizenship certificate, etc.) of the parents or legal guardians,
– proof of relationship to the child (the child’s birth certificate is sufficient).
Last, but definitely not least, is the passport photograph. The official requirements and guidelines for passport photos are quite strict, and numerous applicants fail to deliver proper images. It might result in weeks-long delays, therefore if you want to avoid those, make sure to get a photograph that is certainly in accordance with the official passport criteria.
Read more: Baby US Passport Photo
How to take a passport photograph the easy way?
If you are in the process of applying for a new passport, whether it is for yourself or your child, it is worth taking some time and considering the available options. As mentioned above, it is the failure to provide a suitable passport picture that accounts for the highest percentage of rejected applications.
Some of the options available out there are easy, others require a bit more effort. The most intuitive choice would be to use the services of a professional photographer, however, that option might be costly and requires substantial amounts of time. An alternative solution would be to have the passport picture taken by yourself, with the convenience of staying home. How is that possible?
Passport Photo Online is a highly advanced tool that allows you to have your perfect passport photograph done in a matter of seconds, with no necessity of ever leaving your apartment. This user-friendly and easy-to-use application uses Artificial Intelligence to adjust the images taken by you, so they are always in accordance with the official passport regulations.
All you have to do is upload a picture of yourself to the app, and Passport Photo Online will then do its magic within seconds, delivering you a photograph that is guaranteed to meet the passport criteria. There is no need to look for a perfectly white background and optimal lighting conditions – the app will do it for you.
What additionally makes this program stand out from other alternatives, is the fact that you are allowed to upload as many images as you want, because you pay only for the final result. This way, you get multiple retakes and you can play around with the tool until you are satisfied. The images can be delivered to you either in digital form or as a printed copy.
On top of that, people behind the application are remarkably supportive and exhibit a pro-consumer approach, therefore in the unlikely scenario of your passport photo getting rejected, you will receive a double money refund.
An expired passport is something you want to avoid
A passport is one of the most important documents because it not only allows you to travel, but is also the basic identification method. It is therefore highly recommended to keep track of the dates, so you don’t end up with your passport expired.
What is more, in most cases you won’t be able to partake in international travels if your document is to expire in 6 months or less.
The process of renewing is time-consuming, and in the case of using the expedited service, costs are rather high, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for that.
Additionally, please note that if you want to travel with your (even newborn) children, they are also required to have a valid passport.
And in case you are about to update your travel documents, be sure to use the easiest and most reliable options of having your passport photo taken. Especially that such software is right here, literally at your fingertips.
Passport expiration for minors: FAQs
When do children’s passports expire?
A child’s passport – a passport that was issued before the 16th (sixteenth) birthday – is valid for 5 (five) years.
How long is a passport for a minor good for?
Passports issued for children below the age of 16 are valid for 5 years. In case the document was issued after the child turned 16, it is valid for 10 years.
Do I need to renew my passport when I turn 18?
No, there is no such need. If at the time of turning 18 your passport is valid, it does not lose its legitimacy. The case remains the same when turning 21 as well.
What do I do if my minor passport expires?
If your expired passport was issued before your 16th (sixteenth) birthday, you will have to apply for a new passport in person using Form DS-11. Your parents or legal guardians will have to attend the meeting with you. If the expired passport was issued after you turned 16 (sixteen) and you meet all the other criteria for renewal via mail, you will be eligible to renew your passport using Form DS-82.
Why are children’s passports valid for only 5 years?
Children’s passports are valid for only 5 (five) years because their appearance changes so quickly (for example during the transition from a baby to a toddler), therefore making their identification difficult.
My child passport is expired. Can I still travel?
No, no one can travel with an expired U.S. passport regardless whether they’re a child or an adult.
I had a passport as a child but it expired. How can I get a new passport?
Assuming that the passport was issued before you turned 16 (sixteen), you will have to apply for a new passport in person using Form DS-11. If you are not 18 (eighteen) years old, your parent or legal guardian will have to accompany you to your passport appointment.
Can a child travel internationally with an expired passport?
No. No one can travel with an expired passport – your passport must be valid in order for you to travel.
What is the process for a U.S. passport extension for a minor?
The minor and their parents or legal guardians will have to apply for a new passport in person using Form DS-11. If only one parent or legal guardian can attend the passport appointment, a notarized letter of consent from the other parent/guardian will be necessary.
Can I renew my child’s passport before it expires?
Children’s passports cannot be renewed – only U.S. passports issued after the applicant’s 16th (sixteenth) birthday can be renewed.
How long is a toddler’s passport valid?
A toddler’s passport will be valid for 5 (five) years. After that period you will have to apply for a new passport for your child.
-  https://www.usa.gov/passport
-  https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/need-passport/16-17.html
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.