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At What Age Does a Child Need a Passport? Minimum Age for US

December 14, 2023

3 min read

 

at what age does a child need a passport to travel internationally

As the world becomes more interconnected, families are often traveling internationally with their children. And with international travel comes the need for passports. But at what age does a child need a passport? Is there a minimum passport age?

The answer is not as straightforward as you might think.

Let’s dive in.

In Focus

When does a child need a passport?

First and foremost, every country has its own regulations regarding rules for children’s passports. It’s important to check with the specific destinations you plan on visiting to ensure you’re meeting the regulations. However, there are some general guidelines that most countries follow.

Minimum age for a child’s passport

There is no information on the minimum passport age for children on the US Department of State website. It mostly depends on your destination plan whether you travel within the US or internationally.

In the United States, a child needs a passport if they are traveling outside the country, regardless of their age. This means that even newborns require a passport if they are traveling internationally. However, the process for obtaining a passport may vary depending on the child’s age.

Let’s take a closer look at the different age ranges of children who need a passport.

Pro tip

 

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Travel within North America

If you travel within the US, your child doesn’t need a passport. You can have their birth certificate about you. Even for land and sea travel to Canada, Mexico, and certain Caribbean islands, children under 16 may only have a birth certificate to cross the border.

Kids of 15 and under can enter Canada with their birth certificate without a U.S. passport. To come back to their homeland from Canada, children aged 16 to 18 must have a driver’s license, passport, passport card, or Nexus card.

International travel

minimum age for us passport

It’s pretty simple with children’s identification documents when traveling internationally. Regardless of age, all kids need a valid passport for air travel to a foreign destination.

Newborns to age 15

Passports for children under 16 years old are valid for only five years. This is because children grow and change so rapidly that their appearance may not match the photo in their passport after a few years.

To apply for a passport for a child under 16, both parents or legal guardians must provide agreement and proof of parental relationship. If one of the parents or a legal guardian is unable to appear at the passport office together, one parent can provide a notarized statement from the parent/guardian who is not present permitting the passport application.

Additionally, you will need to provide proof of the child’s U.S. citizenship (such as a birth certificate) and a passport photo.

Sixteen and 17-year-olds

At age 16, children become eligible for an adult passport. This means they can apply for a passport with the standard ten-year validity period. However, it’s important to note that 16 and 17-year-olds are still considered minors and will need parents to agree to a child applying for a passport.

If the child has their own valid form of identification (driver’s license, state ID, etc.), they can use that as proof of identity. For those who do not have a valid form of identification, their parent/guardian can provide identification and certify that the applicant is their child.

Valid passport for 18 and older

Once a child turns 18, they are considered an adult and can apply for and get a passport fast on their own without parental consent. They will need to provide proof of citizenship (such as a birth certificate or prior passport) and a current government-issued ID.

It’s important to note that if a child turns 18 while traveling abroad, they may be required to obtain an adult passport in order to return home. It’s always a good idea to check the rules of the destination country and the airlines you’ll be flying with to ensure no surprises come up during your travels.

Summing up

at what age does a child need a us passport

Every country has its own regulations regarding child’s passport rules. However, in the United States, a child needs a passport if they are traveling outside the country, regardless of age. Passport validity periods vary based on age, with passports for children under 16 being valid for only five years. Parents or legal guardians must provide consent for a child under 16 to apply for a passport. When a child turns 18, they are considered an adult and can apply for their own passport themselves.

Traveling internationally with children can seem overwhelming at times, but being prepared and knowing the requirements should make the process a little smoother. Happy travels!

FAQ

What age does a child need a US passport?

There is no strict rule on the minimum age on a child’s passport. The necessity to have a passport for a child comes from the destination you plan to visit. If it’s a foreign country, a child needs a passport regardless of their age.

At what age do children need a passport to travel internationally?

A child’s passport needs to be applied for at any age when you plan international air travel. A mere child’s birth certificate is not enough in this case to pass the border. Just like an adult needs a valid passport to travel abroad.