New Travel and Passport Rules for Kids (2007)

These rules were in effect in 2007 and are no longer applicable to 2008. We're not sure if the Bush Administration will allow these exemptions in 2008, so it is best to get passports for your kids now. What follows is the old rules.

International travel for kids just got confusing, especially if you are entering the US from Mexico, Canada, Bermuda and the Caribbean. It also takes much longer to get your US passport.

New US rules on entering the US issued on January 23, 2007 required anyone entering the US to have a valid passport. The rules have a changed again. Here are the essential changes and how to get that passport for kids.

How are kids defined?
Kids are defined as minors below 14 years old. That includes babies and infants. Your kid has to apply in person and be accompanied by both parents or legal guardian to get a passport.

What do kids need to enter the US via Air?
If you are a kid entering the US via air, you need a Passport. So do adults. It's that simple. The same rules apply, even if you are coming from Mexico, Canada, Bermuda or the Caribbean. Kids coming via air from US territories like Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are the exception.

What do kids need to enter the US via Land and Sea?

Long lines at US-Mexican BorderAll kids will need a valid US passport. There were exceptions, but these expired on September 30, 2007. We believe that if the US Passport Agency is not able to process a sufficient number of passports, that there will be sufficient pressure on Congress and tghe Dept. of Homeland Security to relax the restrictions.

There were two main parts of the old rule:

  • US and Canadian citizens ages 15 or younger (with parental consent) were allowed to cross borders, both at land and sea entry points, with certified copies of their birth certificates rather than passports.
  • US and Canadian citizens ages 16 through 18 traveling with school, religious, cultural or athletic groups and under adult supervision also were allowed to travel with only their birth certificates.
  • There are no exceptions anymore. Apply for a passport now and avoid the crowds and rush.

Does it pay to get a US Passport for a kid now?
We strongly recommend that you apply for your passports now no matter what country you are living in. We think that the US government will definitely require valid passports from everyone in the future.

How long are US passports good for and how much will it cost?
Passportsa are good for 5 years if you are 15 years or younger or 10 years if you are 16 years and older.

Passports will cost between $75 and $100 for routine service. Expedited service and express mail cost extra. See our article on what passport application to use for more information.

How long will it take?
The short answer is a lot longer than it used to. If you mail your passport application or submit it to the post office, it will take 10 weeks or longer for routine service. If you check expedited service and use overnight mail, you are looking at 3-4 weeks. It also depends when you are applying and need to travel. Service is much better if you apply during the Fall and Winter months.

Keep in mind that in Fiscal Year 2006, the State Department issued a record 12.1 million passports to American citizens, and anticipates issuing 16 million passports in Fiscal Year 2007.

What if I am traveling in the next two weeks?
If you are or have a kid that is traveling via air in the next two weeks days, follow the directions in our Getting a US Passport in 1 (one) day on our website. Note, you'll need to get a copy of your itinerary from your travel agent or bring your airline tickets with you.

You may not get your passport in a day. However, the folks at the US Passport Agencies across the country are working overtime. They say that no one will miss their trip.

If you applied for this expedited service and have not received your passport and are traveling within the next 10 days, please call or email the National Passport Information Center toll free at 1-877-487-2778 or TDD/TTY: 1-888-874-7793.

What do I documents do I need to get a passport for my kid?
You will need the following to apply for a kids passport if they are under 14 years old or younger:

  1. Fill out a DS-11 form,
  2. Passport photo of the kid,
  3. Proof of identification for the parents,
  4. A valid birth certificate of the kid. If you don't have it then apply for the birth certificate here or get a Certified Copy of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, and
  5. Both parents show up with the minor and sign application for passport.

If one or both parents can't show up, then download Form DS-3053 Statement of Consent: Issuance of a Passport to a minor under Age 14 (This has to be notarized!)

If you mail your passport application and check the routine service box, it will take between 10 weeks or longer. If you check expedited service and use overnight mail, you are looking at 3-4 weeks.

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