A brand new baby can upend everybody's daily life as they get used to the new family member. But if the baby arrives just before an international trip, or if a serious emergency obligates you to travel soon after the baby's birth, you'll be scrambling more than usual to collect the proper travel documentation. To get your passport fast before you travel, you must apply in-person at a passport agency. Here’s all of the answers you need to the FAQ’s about expediting passport services for newborns.

The Passport Process for Newborns

Getting a newborn a passport, expedited or otherwise, is similar to getting any child’s passport. For a child’s passport application, you'll need to fill out the same passport application and provide the same documentation for any child under 16. Complete form DS-11, "Application for a U.S. Passport." Bring with you:

  • A certified copy or original U.S. birth certificate, consular report of birth abroad or certification of birth to prove your baby's U.S. citizenship.
  • Documentation that proves your parental relationship, like an adoption decree (the aforementioned documents can serve this purpose, too).
  • Your own valid government ID (this can be a passport, a driver’s license, a military ID.
  • A clear passport photo showing your child's full face (must meet photo requirements).
  • Payment for application fees.
  • Both of the child's parents.

If both parents can't come, you must either provide a statement of consent or proof that you are the child's sole legal guardian.

Expediting an Infant Passport In Person

It’s often easier to get an adult passport or to get a passport renewal. Adults who previously had a passport have the option of using an expediting service or mailing their passport to a passport agency to cut down the processing time. But since this is obviously a baby's first time applying, they’ll need a new passport. The only way for a newborn baby to get an expedited passport is by applying in person at an authorized passport agency. Note that this is not a typical passport acceptance agency, like a post office or a library. You'll need the passport application form and all of the supporting documents listed above. You’ll also need proof of your upcoming international travel and a debit or credit card to pay passport fees as well as an additional fee for expedited handling. You must have an appointment at a Passport agency, as they do not accept any walk-in appointments.

In Case of Life or Death Emergencies

If you have a life or death emergency – which the U.S. Department of State defines as "serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family that require you to travel outside the United States within 72 hours (3 business days)" – see the State Department's "Life or Death Emergencies" page for phone numbers to schedule an expedited appointment. If you're outside the United States and need a passport due to a life or death emergency, contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Other Ways to Make the Process Faster

Sometimes the small things make a big difference. Filling out your application form in advance (although you should wait to sign it until you're in front of the acceptance agent), bringing photocopies of your ID and your child's proof of U.S. citizenship can make the application process move a little more quickly. Make sure the photocopy shows both the front and back of your ID on a sheet of regular copy paper. The same applies for the baby's proof of citizenship, although if there is nothing on the back, you don't need to copy the back side. The photocopies can be enlarged if necessary, and should not be double-sided. Additionally, consider getting a passport card if you’re traveling to destinations where it’s acceptable; Passport books generally take longer to process.