How to Renew Your Child’s US Passport

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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.

img_0233.jpg How to Renew Your Child’s US Passport

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!
  8. 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.
Saying goodbye to the old passport!

Saying goodbye to the old passport!

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!

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  1. We always take passport photos at our local Costco, fill the forms using the PDF version on the computer, get all documents needed and go on a Saturday morning to our local post office (get there as soon as it opens and no appointments needed). Easy as pie!!!

    • Great point! I forgot to add that be careful if you print your own completed forms that it prints 100% of the page and doesn’t crop out some of the borders and such or you will have to start again with paper forms in the office. Wish we had more weekend times around here!

  2. Hah, i just went through this process this past weekend for our trip to Japan in June/July! After realizing the new passport is good starting from when it’s processed rather then continuing off from the old passport expiration date, we realized we could have held off a few more months to renew. But now we are considering a trip to Vancouver for spring break in April so perhaps the timing worked out just fine.

    By the way, on #6, we had to provide both our passport as well as the original birth certificate (which they mailed in), so in terms of just providing a passport as proof of citizenship, YMMV.

    Finally, if you haven’t filled out your forms prior to arriving at the facility, make sure you know your children’s SS number. I had to scramble through websites, emails, etc to find our children’s. Eventually was able to find it…phew!

    • Yes, good point. Re the birth certificate I am 98% sure they didn’t really need the original mailed in with the previous passport per the rules, but I’m sure it didn’t hurt. It’s function at renewal I think is to establish who the parents are.

      • We did our kids’ “renewals” at the local county seat last year, and they insisted upon sending in the BC even though I brought a print of the website clearing indicating that it wasn’t required. However, knowing that might be the case I brought them along, so no harm.

        On the flip side, they were lightning fast. We were in there for 5 minutes for both applications. We came prepared, which helped with the speed of the transaction.

        I don’t recall them needing the the BC for proof of parentage, but since they were sitting there I might not have noticed. The State Dept does say “Evidence of relationship between child and parent(s)/guardian(s)”. I assume this means you would also need marriage or other documentation to provide proof of any name changes since the child’s birth, if that were the case.

        The kids renewal took ~3 weeks in August. My wife’s renewal took 2-1/2 weeks door-to-door and was issued Dec 29th, so effectively about 2 weeks given the holiday. I guess nobody else was sending them in over vacation!

    • Yes, it should be (for a child). The simple truth of it is that you cannot renew a child’s passport. Every application is a new application. Having a prior passport may quicken the process since the applicant has already been vetted, but for new apps they may well process them in exactly the order received anyway.

      The only question is whether you could use the passport as ID to prove citizenship. I would bet it can be used (for a reasonable amount of time), but as seen above it probably depends on the passport acceptance agent. The only thing it might save is sending in the BC, so take that along and send it in to be safe, and all should be good.

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