Traveling with children can be an exciting and educational experience for families. However, the process of obtaining a passport for a child can be a bit daunting, especially when it comes to the question of whether both parents need to be present. In this article, we’ll explore the answer to this question and provide some tips for making the passport application process as smooth as possible for families.

1. The answer is “it depends”

Fatherhood and applying for a passport. A happy young dad at home holds his sleepy baby girl in his hands, and goes through passport paperwork.

Whether both parents need to be present for a child’s passport application depends on a few factors. If the child is under the age of 16, both parents or legal guardians must appear in person with the child when applying for the passport. This is a legal requirement that is in place to help prevent child abduction.

If one parent is unable to appear in person, they can provide written consent for the other parent to apply for the passport on their behalf. The written consent must be notarized and include a statement that the absent parent or guardian is aware of and approves of the application.

2. Special Situations

In some cases, there may be special circumstances that make it difficult for both parents to appear in person. For example, if one parent is in the military and stationed overseas, or if one parent is unable to travel due to a medical condition, there are exceptions that can be made.

In these cases, the parent who cannot appear in person should fill out a form called a Statement of Consent (Form DS-3053). This form must be notarized, and the parent who is present must provide a copy of the absent parent’s identification as well as evidence of the reason why they cannot appear in person.

3. Divorced or Separated Parents

If the parents are divorced or separated, it can be more complicated to obtain a passport for a child. The parent who is applying for the passport must provide evidence of their legal right to do so, such as a copy of a court order granting them sole custody or a letter from the other parent providing written consent.

If the other parent cannot be located or refuses to provide consent, the parent who is applying for the passport can request a court order authorizing them to obtain the passport.

4. Tips for a Smooth Passport Application

If you’re planning to obtain a passport for your child, here are some tips to help make the process as smooth as possible:

  • Make an appointment at a passport acceptance facility and bring all required documents.
  • Bring two identical passport photos of your child, taken within the last six months.
  • Pay any applicable fees in the form of a personal check, money order, or credit card.
  • Double-check all forms for accuracy and completeness before submitting them.
  • Check the processing times for your application so that you can plan your travel accordingly.

What Happens If Both Parents Are Not There for a Passport?

If both parents are unable to attend the passport application submission, a notarized Form DS-3053 along with a photocopy of the absent parent’s ID must be submitted. The Department of State has provisions for situations where one parent has sole legal authority or if one parent cannot be found.

What Do I Need to Apply for a Child Passport if the Father is not Around?

In order to proceed, you will need to submit Form DS-5525, which is the “Statement of Exigent/Special Family Circumstances.” It is important to fill out the form with as much detail as possible, as we may request additional evidence. Examples of such evidence include a custody order, an incarceration order, or a restraining order to protect against international parental child abduction.


In conclusion, obtaining a passport for a child requires careful planning and attention to detail. Both parents or legal guardians must appear in person when applying for the passport, but there are exceptions made for special circumstances. Divorced or separated parents will need to provide evidence of their legal right to obtain the passport, and it’s important to follow all of the requirements carefully to avoid delays or complications.

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