The task of applying for a United States passport can seem daunting, especially if it is for a minor. With summer right around the corner, and more people venturing out and traveling, here is an easy guide to applying for a U.S. passport for you and your child.
The easiest way to get a passport is through the United States Postal Services (USPS). It can be done for yourself and for your children. If applying for yourself, you have two options. When renewing your passport, you can either renew by mail, or apply at your local USPS location. Information on how to apply by mail can be found online at the USPS’s website. If you are applying for the first time, or are a minor, the application must be done in person, and by appointment only. Post Offices that offer passport services have set hours for that service and can be scheduled online, or a Post Office lobby self-service kiosk.
If you are applying for the first time, the state department recommends applying at least four months in advance. Passport processing times vary depending on location and time of year. The State Department has a section on their website where you can track the status of your application.
According to the U.S. State Department, here is what you will need to bring when applying in person. They suggest having an ‘application package,’ which is all of the documents needed to apply. These documents are, a filled out DS-11 form, evidence of U.S. Citizenship such as a birth certificate, the original and a photo copy, and your ID. You also need to bring a passport photo with you, one that you can have done at a store that has a photo center. The last thing needed is the application fee, which for adults is $130 for the passport book, or $30 for the passport card. For each, there is an additional $35 execution fee, which is paid separately, and only required for first time applicants. Expedited services are also available at an additional $60.
For anyone under the age of 16 whose applying, the requirements are similar, though require additional supporting parental documentation. Any passport for someone under 16 is valid for five years. All children under 16 need to fill out a DS-11 form and evidence of U.S. citizenship. Additionally, children must also have original and photocopied documentation showing parental relationship, such as an adoption decree or birth certificate, along with the ID’s of both parents, who both need to present at the application appointment. Then just bring the completed, unsigned DS-11 form, and the child’s passport fees. The fees for kids 15 and under is $100 for the passport book, or $15 for the passport card. For each, there is an additional $35 execution fee, which is paid separately. The State Department recommends bringing two checks, one for each fee. More information on the passport requirements for children can be found the U.S. federal government’s travel page.
For those who wish to do a more local international trip, here is what you need to know to go to and from Canada.
To be able to enter Canada, Canadian law requires that all persons carry proof of citizenship and identity. A valid U.S. passport, passport card, or NEXUS card satisfies these requirements for U.S. citizens.
While an Enhanced Drivers Licenses (EDLs) is needed for air travel from the U.S. to Canada, it is currently not required to cross the border by land. It is provided as a convenient option, to speed up your border crossing when returning to the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean by land or sea. According to Michigan.gov, this license verifies your identity and citizenship - no other proof is needed. EDLs and ID cards are among the federally approved border-crossing documents when entering the U.S. required under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).
U.S. citizens age 16 or older must present one of the WHTI-approved documents, such as an enhanced license or ID card, passport, passport card or Trusted Traveler card. Those under the age of 16 must present their birth certificate, a photocopy will suffice, or other proof of citizenship.
EDLs are currently only available in Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, and Washington. The application to receive a EDL can only be done by making an appointment through the Secretary of State. For more information on federal travel requirements, visit www.dhs.gov or www.travel.state.gov.