How to Apply for a Passport for Adopted Child?

Are you a parent who has adopted a child? Then, obtaining a passport for your new family member can seem like an intimidating process. The good news is that with careful planning and research, the process can be straightforward and low-stress.

This guide will provide step-by-step advice to help ensure that your child gets their passport as quickly as possible so they can legally travel to the United States and enjoy all the rights of any other American citizen.

How to Apply for a Passport for Adopted Child?

Each year, thousands of children around the world go through adoption with US families. Adoption is a beautiful way for families to grow, but each of these families will also face legal stumbling blocks. One of the prominent difficulties that these families must overcome is the question of visas, citizenship, and passports for children.

Passport Prior to Finalizing Adopting Papers?

Since the children were not born in the U.S., there are lists of criteria that each must follow to complete the adoption process. Also, this process will lead the child to become a U.S. citizen soon after.

  • A certified copy of the child’s original birth certificate.
  • A certified copy of the Adoption Petition filed with the adoption court, proving that there is a pending adoption in a state court.

Here are the basics of what each family should be aware of when it comes to applying for passports for internationally adopted children.

Obtaining Citizenship

To obtain a passport, there must be proof of citizenship for the adopting child. For children adopted from countries that participate in the Hague Convention, citizenship tends to be straightforward.

Type of Visa for Adopted Children

Children can come into the country under either an IH-3 or IH-4 visa. An IH-3 visa is for children who are adopted in their native country, and they will automatically receive a Certificate of Citizenship once they arrive in the US. An IH-4 visa is for children who will be adopted in the U.S.

The visa grants them lawful status until the adoption is finalized, at which time they will receive their citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

For children in non-Hague Convention countries, there are significantly more forms and the child must be considered an official ‘orphan’ to be eligible. Once this is successful, they can obtain the same visas.

Application Process

After the adopted child has received the documentation of their citizenship, the process of obtaining a passport is the same as any other American child, regardless of where they were born.

The child and both parents or legal guardians must be present with the application to begin the process.

As a note, the new legislation does not allow minors under the age of 16 to renew their passport by mail. To renew your passport, you must do it in person. The parents must be able to document:

  • Child’s citizenship (for international adoption, this is typically the Certificate of Citizenship)
  • Parent or guardian’s proof of relationship to the child (such as an adoption certificate)
  • Photo Identification of Parents
  • Passport Photo Parental consent if only one parent is applying

They must also fill out form DS-11. You must submit the entire application to a passport office agent. Which are often in a post office.

Obtaining a passport for international adoption can come with complications, but it does not have to be. After getting citizenship, the process mirrors that of any other parent. Working with a passport office or expediting agency can help the process go as smoothly as possible.


After going through the various steps for applying for and obtaining a passport for an adopted child from overseas, it is of utmost importance to be sure you are prepared correctly. Taking the time to do research about your country’s requirements will help to manage expectations of the process.

You’ll want to pay attention to timelines that must be met throughout the journey. Make sure you inquire as soon as possible in order to stay ahead of any changes.