Child Custody

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

Last updated on December 29, 2022

child passport attorney in New York City

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. To speak with a qualified child custody lawyer, call us today at (718) 293-1542.

If your ex-spouse or partner is the primary custodian by court order or agreement, they may have the Passport in their possession. They should provide it to the requesting parent and not withhold it unreasonably from the traveling parent. Imagine your kids missing out on that trip because you decided to withhold the passport. Make sure that you ask for the passport and can provide as many specifics as possible about your travel intentions.

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.

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.

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.

Happy travels!



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