TIPS: U.S. Passports for Teens – Just when you get the hang of international travel with children, you turn around to suddenly face the prospect of travel with teens.
Your daughter can nearly look you in the eye. Your son begins to ask details about the next trip you never had to explain before (or defend) as Chief Family Travel Officer. But time is flying. Before you know it, they’ll be out the door on adventures without you–or perhaps, your high-school student is preparing to study abroad?
In any case, if there’s a new passport application or renewal on the horizon for your teen, here are some important details you may want to consider.
Tweens and early teens getting U.S. Passports:
What a difference 5 years makes – for a passport
Kids and teens applying for new U.S. passports through 15 years of age still receive child passports. Though $30 cheaper than adult passports, as you may know, child passports are only valid for five years (ugh!).
And when you consider that most countries don’t allow entry with fewer than 6 months’ validity on your current passport, you’re child’s passport may technically only work for international travel for 4.5 years . (Remember this when booking your next trip abroad!)
Proof of parental awareness and consent for the child passport
Also, in the children’s passport application process, both parents or guardians must authorize the issuance of the child’s passport. Generally this means both parents must appear in person at the passport acceptance facility with the child.
What if both parents or legal guardians cannot appear together at the passport acceptance facility? You must submit a signed and notarized letter of consent from the absent parent or other eligible documents with the child’s passport application (proof of sole legal custody, etc.).
For more information, you can see all requirements for kids under 16 here or follow this link to the official parental consent form.
HOWEVER, all of this changes once the child turns 16 years old.
If you’ve got a 15-year-old in the house, you may want to rethink the timing of your travel plans (especially if they are flexible) and whether or not you can postpone that next passport application until after that 16th birthday.
Teens 15, 16 and 17 years getting U.S. Passports:
Once kids turn 16 years, they receive an adult passport instead. The difference? Just like yours, that grown-up version is valid for 10 years instead of a mere 5. (And at time of writing for only $30 more.)
The process of applying for a passport for kids 16 and 17 years is a bit simpler, too. As long as the teenager has proof that at least one parent is aware of the passport application, both parents—and possibly even either parent—needn’t be present when the teen applies for the passport in person.
The TSA accepts “proof of parental awareness” in this case as either:
- One parent appears with the teen when applying for the passport in person and signs the from DS-11 in front of the agent assisting.
- A signed, notarized statement of consent for the teen to apply for the passport from at least one parent or legal guardian is included with the application. In this case a photocopy of the consenting adult’s photo ID should also be included.
And at 16 and 17 years old, kids receive a full 10-year adult U.S. passport with future passports renewable by mail. For additional information, follow this link to information from Travel.State.gov.
Where you like to travel with your passports?
Get inspired by these vacation guides or SEARCH our site for the destinations that interest you most.
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Morzine with Kids – France Family Vacation Guide
Jerusalem with Kids – Israel Family Vacation Guide
Puerto Vallarta with Kids – Mexico Family Vacation Guide
More posts to help planning travel with teens:
Ten Things You Should Do When Planning College Visits with Your Teen
Ten Ways to Live Like a Local Family During Travel
Ten Things You Should Always Pack for Travel
Great Travel Toys for Tots to Teens
How to Build a Budget-Friendly Maui Family Vacation
California with Kids: Ten Unforgettable Family Vacation Ideas
The Best Travel Purse for a DSLR Camera I’ve Found
Reader note: An earlier version of this post first appeared September 13, 2018. It has since been revised and updated.