A passport is a necessity for any experienced traveler, even one who can't speak or walk yet. That means that sometimes even babies are required to have a passport. Whether your infant needs a passport depends on where you are going and how you will travel. Note that regulations are always subject to change, so check the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative website shortly before your trip for the latest requirements.

Domestic Travel

United States citizens are not required to carry a passport when traveling within the U.S. When flying domestically, the Transportation Security Administration requires all adults aged 18 and over to carry a valid federal or state-issued identification card such as a passport or driver’s license, but children and babies do not need ID.

Note that your airline might require proof of the infant’s age, such as a passport or birth certificate. Check with your airline for specific policies.

International Air Travel

Federal law requires all travelers, including infants, to carry a passport when traveling internationally by air. Your baby’s passport photo must meet standard requirements, which can be challenging with a fussy infant. The State Department recommends laying the baby on a plain white sheet or draping the car seat with a sheet and strapping him in for the photograph.

Western Hemisphere Land and Sea

Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, children under age 16 who are U.S. or Canadian citizens do not need a passport when traveling by land or sea within the Western Hemisphere travel zone. This area includes the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the countries of the Caribbean Region. You must present your baby’s birth certificate or naturalization card.

Obtaining an Infant Passport

Applying for a child’s passport is relatively complicated. You must appear in person with your child at a passport agency or acceptance facility. If both parents cannot appear in person, the absent parent must sign a notarized Statement of Consent.

If you have sole custody, you must provide proof such as a court order or death certificate. You must provide proof of your identity and your relationship to your child, as well as proof of the child’s citizenship.

Allow plenty of time to gather the needed documentation. Passport processing typically takes 4 to 6 weeks. Expedited service is available at an additional fee.