Getting your child’s passport can seem confusing and overwhelming. Forms, more forms, pictures.
It can be painless and done in less than 30 minutes. Let me show you how to get your child a passport:
Get all of your forms together ahead of time
You will need:
A DS 11 – This is used for the first time you apply AND if you renew your child’s passport while they are still a minor. A child’s passport is only good for 5 years.
Their original birth certificate
Both parents present at application – if one parent can’t be there – you will need a form DS 3053 that is notarized
If you are renewing your child’s passport you must bring the old passport but you CANNOT — USE A RENEWAL FORM – you must use the DS 11
Make an appointment at your local Post Office
I have done passports a million ways. I once paid a fortune for a fancy expeditor, he screwed it up. Another time I needed a same day passport, I spent my entire day at the passport office in another city when I really needed to be packing (clearly I was already behind). The fastest and easiest way I have ever gotten a passport, for me or my children, was at my local Post Office.
Don’t hassle with getting a photo taken somewhere else – your Post Office can take it on the spot
Double check that they offer photo services when you make the appointment. Most Post Offices will take the photo while mom hurriedly fills out the forms. Then you won’t get there and find out that your photo was the wrong size or cropped incorrectly. Yes, this has also happened to me.
Bring your checkbook
I forgot mine, shocker, but they let me buy money orders with a debit card and all was fine. The fee will vary based on whether or not you are asking for an expedited passport, etc.
Get an expedited passport
They say two weeks, mine has always come more quickly. I am an impatient panicker and always want to have it in my hand long before the trip, or the day before depending on how disorganized I am.
Macie and I are headed to Haiti next month, we renewed her passport at our local Post Office yesterday. I timed us, we were in and out in 28 minutes. That included filling out forms, getting a photo and buying money orders to pay the fees. A more organized person might have done it in 15. We’ll be posting from Haiti and hope you will follow us along on our trip.