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The days are long but the years are short is one of the truest sayings for parents of young children, and that truth rolls over into how quickly it feels like five years passes in regards to renewing your child’s United States passport. I mean, a lot has happened in the five years since we got our then two year old Little C her first passport, but on the other hand, how have five years already gone by?!
Well, the dates on the passport don’t lie, and since children under 16 have to renew their passports every five years (and a passport has diminished usability in its last six months), it was recently time to renew our oldest child’s passport.
I have written posts on getting your child’s first passport, an infant’s passport photo (that can be a hoot!), getting a passport for a baby, and more, but this time let’s talk about how to renew your child’s US passport.
How to Renew Your Child’s US Passport
- Know that renewal of all US child passports must take place in person. There is no such thing as mailing in a child’s passport for renewal, so gear yourself up for appearing in person with your little one, and in most cases, the other parent. In essence, this means that the renewal of a child’s passport is very similar to applying for a new passport.
- Gather up your child’s previous passport as you will need some information from that passport for Form DS-11 and you will need to bring it to the appointment.
- Complete the form Form DS-11. Do not sign the form until you are in front of the person who is accepting your passport application.
- Provide an acceptable passport photo. Your kiddo will need a recent color photo that is printed on photo quality paper without glasses. The photo must be 2 x 2 inches in size and the head must be between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches (between 25 and 35 mm) from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head. The photo must be taken in full-face view directly facing the camera with a neutral facial expression or a natural smile with both eyes open. While we did our infant’s photo at home, when it came time to renew our now seven year old’s passport we just had the photo done at the courthouse when we were renewing the passport.
- Appear in person with the child and both parents (some exceptions highlighted below) with the completed Form DS 11 and other required documentation. You can go to a Passport Acceptance Facility (many post offices, clerks of court, public libraries and other state, county, township, and municipal government offices) or a Passport Agency. If you need the passport in a big hurry, you will want to go to a “Passport Agency” and pay the expedited fees. Otherwise, just made an appointment at your local Post Office or similar. Some places require appointments, but at our local courthouse we were able to just walk in right after school one day.
- Provide proof of citizenship for the child at the appointment. When you are renewing you can use your child’s previous passport as proof of citizenship. We also brought in her certified original birth certificate which had our full names on it to establish we were the parents, but they only made a copy of it this time to send in instead of borrowing the original since they were able to submit her expiring passport with our renewal request. You must also have evidence of the relationship with the child. In our case, the birth certificate with both of our names along with our driver’s licenses were enough, but if you have obtained custody or adopted, then you will need to provide that documentation. They make a copy and submit it with the passport application.
- If both parents cannot attend in person, then one can attend and have a notarized Statement of Consent for the other parent. That consent must be less than three months old. You can go here for more info about what can be done for cases that involve sole custody or other extenuating circumstances that would prevent both parents from being available. In our case, we both went with her although it is admittedly hard finding a workday when both parents and the kiddo are available during business hours!
- Pay the fees, which are the same for child passport renewals as they are initial applications. For a non-expedited minor passport the total came to $105 for the application fee and the execution fee. The courthouse only accepted checks and money orders for the $80 application fee, and we had to make the check out to “Department of State”. We then paid the courthouse directly for the photo ($10) and the execution fee of $25, both payable by credit card. And no, sadly those charges probably won’t code as travel for your rewards credit card purposes. This process will vary some if you go to a Passport Agency.
To my surprise, just about two weeks later, we received our oldest daughters new and renewed passport in the mail! The old passport should come back to us separately in the near future. It really is a good feeling knowing that all members of the immediate family again have a passport that is up to date and ready for more stamps.
I will add, that if your kiddo is a ‘collector’ like mine, they may be a tad upset that the new passport comes without any stamps, but just remind them that they will get the old one back so they haven’t really lost anything at all. They just now have even more pages to stamp!