Child Custody

What You Need To Know About Your Child’s Passport…

Last updated on September 18, 2023

It’s almost time for summer travel and your children need their passports. They may have a valid passport and you need it to travel, or they may not have one at all. You may need to apply for their very first passport or reapply for an expired passport. It is recommended that regardless of whether travel is planned or not, every child who is a U.S. citizen must have a U.S. Passport. 

If you’re in need of guidance regarding child passports, the New York Family Law Group is here to help. Our experienced New York child custody lawyers can provide you with valuable legal advice and support throughout the process. Schedule a free consultation by contacting us at (718)-293-1542, and let us assist you in navigating the complexities of child passport applications.

The best case scenario is to provide a full itinerary of where you plan on going, where you will be staying, the contact information of where you will be when you are abroad, and most importantly a return travel ticket and the date of return. When you travel you may have to be prepared to adjust any parenting time schedule that will be affected while you are out of town. After you return, be prepared to return the passport to the party who will be responsible for it.

child passport attorney in New York City

As an extra tip, I recommend making a photocopy of the passport. It will make replacement that much easier if it is lost or misplaced. But what if this is the first time you are applying for a passport? The easiest and quickest way to apply for a passport is for you and your ex or partner to go together to the local post office or passport center. If one party is not willing to apply for a passport, the applying party will need to fill out the DS-11 form (passport application). Print out the following DS-3053 form and provide it to the non-applying party.

They must:

  • Sign the form before a notary.
  • Provide a copy of the front and back of the government-issued ID to verify their identity.

Traveling to Another Country with a Minor

Federal law states that any child below 16 years old must get the signature of both of their parents in order for them to apply and be granted a passport. You can exempt this requirement if you prove, by court order, that you have sole or partial custody of your child. You may be eligible to apply for a passport even if you do not have sole custody  if you:

  • Get a letter from the other parent confirming that the child will be granted a passport.
  • Obtain a court order that authorizes the passport
  • Establish that a humanitarian or emergency reason should be issued
  • Prove that there are “exigent” circumstances, which are typically emergency situations, and the minor’s health or safety will be jeopardized if they do not obtain passports. 
  • Establish special family circumstances, which is generally a situation where one or both of your parents find it difficult to sign the passport application.
Requirements for Traveling to Another Country with a Minor Description
Parental Signature Both parents must sign the passport application for children below 16 years old.
Court Order If you have sole or partial custody of the child, a court order can exempt the parental signature requirement.
Letter from Other Parent A letter from the other parent confirming permission for the child to obtain a passport can exempt the parental signature requirement.
Humanitarian or Emergency Reason In cases of humanitarian or emergency situations, a passport may be issued without the parental signature requirement.
Exigent Circumstances If there are emergency situations where the minor’s health or safety is at risk, the parental signature requirement may be exempted.
Special Family Circumstances If one or both parents have difficulty signing the passport application, special family circumstances can be considered for exemption.

Traveling With A Child Who Does Not Share Your Last Name

When traveling internationally,  children are required to have more ID and consent documents compared to when traveling within the US. Such travel requirements are designed to protect the child from different forms of child abduction and parental kidnapping. 

If you do not share the same last name as your child, you should always bring a notarized copy of the child’s birth certificate when traveling together. If you are an adoptive parent or a legal guardian, you will also need to obtain adoption certificates or documents of guardianship. Should the name on your child’s birth certificate, adoption certificate, or guardianship documents not match the name on your passport, you should bring a notarized photo of any proof of name changes (such as a court order or marriage license).

When traveling with a child other than your own child, you should bring a signed and notarized consent form from their parents or legal guardians. Although consent form requirements can vary depending on the destination, it is important to have them ready even if you don’t think you will be asked to present them.

Exploring the world with your kids is a great bonding activity. If you plan accordingly and prepare your paperwork in advance, you will be able to handle any security or customs questions and enjoy your adventure without any hassle.

How Long is a Child Passport Good For?

Passports for children are valid for a period of five years. Upon expiration, parents or guardians must renew the passport by applying for a new one on the child’s behalf. The application process necessitates that both parents or legal guardians are present and fill out Form DS-11 in person. This protocol is designed to prevent instances of parental abduction and unauthorized journeys.

It’s crucial to highlight that passports for children under the age of 16 have a shorter validity compared to those of adults. This is due to the rapid physical changes in children, which requires the more frequent renewals to ensure their identification remains accurate on the passport. When it comes to renewing a child’s passport, the procedure mirrors the original application, necessitating the completion of Form DS-11 and in-person submission. Such safeguards maintain the security of children during international voyages and shield their identities from unauthorized access.

For guidance and support in navigating the process of obtaining a child passport, it is crucial to consult with an experienced New York child custody lawyer. At New York Family Law Group, we understand the complexities of child passport applications and can provide you with valuable legal advice tailored to your specific situation. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today.

Happy travels!



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