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Obtaining a Passport for a Minor After Divorce

Updated on February 15, 2016

Today, a valid U.S. Passport is required for anyone traveling out of the country, including for infants and minor children. Getting your child a passport or renewing an existing one is a detailed process if they are under the age of 16, especially so if you are divorced from the other parent.

Passports for children are valid for five years and will require resubmission of a new application at the expiration of each term. After the age of 16, they are valid for the standard 10 years. When renewing a passport for a child, you will have to again appear in person, following the original procedures. Only when a child is 16 and older will they be able to renew a passport via mail.

As you begin the passport process, here's what you'll need to know to make it a smoother less stressful process.

What you need to apply for a minor's passport

  1. Evidence of U.S. Citizenship
  2. Evidence of Parental Relationship
  3. Photo Identification
  4. Parental Consent
  5. Passport Photo
  6. Application Forms
  7. Passport Fees

Evidence of Parental Relationship

When filing for a passport for a minor, you must submit evidence that lists you as the parent of the child applying for a passport. Documents like a birth certificate provide both evidence of citizenship and evidence of parental relationship. If you’re submitting one or more of the documents below as evidence of U.S. citizenship too, you must submit a certified copy. Examples of documents that may be used as evidence of parental relationship are:

  • U.S. birth certificate
  • Foreign birth certificate
  • Adoption decree
  • Divorce/Custody decree

Parental Consent

In a traditional custody arrangement, both parents are joint managing conservators. One parent other might have exclusive rights such as designating the residence of a child, but most rights are shared jointly between the two parents. When applying for a US Passport for a minor child that is under the age of 16, regardless of which parent applies for the Passport, both parent’s signatures are required on the application. Both parents can appear together to request the Passport, or one parent can provide a signed and notarized affidavit giving consent to the other parent to apply for a passport.

The notarized affidavit t from the non-applying parent for a new passport must be less than three months old otherwise a new written consent from the absent parent must be obtained and submitted with a passport application for a child under age 16.

Passport regulations require evidence of compliance with this rule. If one parent tries to obtain the Passport without the explicit consent of the other, Passport officials will require proper documentation such as a court order or final divorce decree showing proof of a sole managing conservatorship. Additional documentation can also include a copy of the termination of parental rights, a signed and notarized affidavit granting permission from the absent parent, or a court order allowing one parent to travel with the child without the additional permission of the other parent.


There are circumstances when the process of obtaining a Passport for a minor is made more difficult by a disagreeable parent that is unwilling to sign the required documentation or attend the Passport application meeting. The best way to avoid passport issuance problems is to address any Passport issues in the divorce decree or custody order before the divorce is finalized requiring both parents to agree to the application of or renewal for a Passport should eliminate future issues and serve as necessary legal documentation.

If you have any more questions about the process or obtaining a passport for a minor, your best resource for passport application requirements is the U.S. Department of State’s website (www.state.gov/passport)

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