Your baby book probably doesn't have a page for Baby's First Paperwork. It's too bad, really, because between the hospital, your insurance carrier and your county's department of vital records, newborns rack up a bit of paper pretty quickly. If you want to travel internationally with your newborn, she's going to need one more thing: a passport. All Americans, even newborns, must have passports to fly to another country. Getting one isn't too complicated, but it does take weeks. Start the process immediately.
Paperwork to Fill Out
You can fill out Form DS-11, Application for a U.S. Passport, at the passport acceptance facility, but it's easier to print it and complete it at home. It's a two-page form that asks for a lot of general personal information.
The form asks for the applicant's Social Security number, which your newborn may not yet have received. If that's the case, you must write out a letter that includes the exact phrase, “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the following is true and correct: (Child's full name) has never been issued a Social Security number by the Social Security Administration.”
Documents to Provide
In order for your newborn to receive a passport, you must show proof that she's a U.S. citizen. Her birth certificate qualifies as proof. This could be a problem, however, depending on your timeline, because it usually takes a few weeks after birth to receive a baby's birth certificate. Contact the local government office that handles birth certificates to ask if there's any way to expedite the process.
Take both the original birth certificate and a photocopy of it when you apply. It shows proof of your parental relationship to the baby, which is another requirement for getting her passport. Both parents must also show ID, such as a valid passport or a valid in-state driver's license. If both legal parents can't go with the newborn to apply for her passport, the absent parent must fill out Form DS-3053 (Statement of Consent) and have it notarized.
Finally, you must take passport photos of the newborn. Familiarize yourself with the State Department's photo requirements, which are very specific. You can take the photo yourself as long as it adheres to the requirements. Bring one copy of the photo with you when you apply.
The Application Process
It's not possible to apply for a newborn's passport online. Running errands with a newborn is inconvenient, but your baby must be present when you apply. So, you'll take your child, along with all documents and ID, to a passport acceptance agency. Many post offices, government offices and even public libraries have this distinction. Some allow users to make appointments, while others accept only walk-ins.
The in-person process is pretty simple. You'll present all the required paperwork to the passport agent who will check that everything is in order and accept your application fee. The fee varies based on whether you're applying for a passport book or passport card and whether you need expedited service. Prices range from $15 to $120. Plan to pay with a check or money order. Facilities don't accept credit or debit cards for application fees.
If you request regular service, you should receive your baby's passport within eight weeks. With expedited service, the passport should be ready in just two to three weeks.