Hey Single Parents Who Travel!
As promised, we are back with the second in our series of blog posts about obtaining a passport for your kids.
If you’ve got minor kids — characterized as 15 years old and below —who need passports, see our first blog post here. But if you’ve got a teen or a young adult who needs one, you’ll want to check this out!
But before we run through the process of getting or renewing a passport for teens over the age of 16 through young adults, we want to remind you that Single Parents Who Travel is not a legal entity and does not provide legal services. This and all blog posts are strictly meant to share information as well as experiences that have worked for members of our parent group. Be sure to contact a lawyer if you have any legal-related questions. All information provided in this blog is based on today’s information as of [date of posting]. We highly recommend you make sure to check the travel.state.gov website for the most current information. Also, please note that according to the U.S Passport Service Guide, which is federal, the following tips we will share for obtaining a passport are applicable in all 50 states.
Fortunately, the process for getting your teen and young adult passports is significantly easier than getting one for a minor.
Basically, when your teen reaches the age of 16, the passport application process is ALMOST identical to how you – or other parents – would apply for a passport as an adult. So make sure to show this post to your teen or young adult child since, in many cases, they can apply for their passports on their own, unaccompanied by you or any other guardian!
So, what if your teen or young adult has NEVER had a passport — can they fill out the application by themselves and submit it online?
Teens and young adults age 16 and above CAN fill their passport applications out by themselves. However, there is a condition that when they’re 16 or 17 years old, they must also have a signed written consent letter and a photocopy of an I.D (a passport, driver’s license, or U.S green card) from at least ONE of their parents or legal guardians in addition to the application form and supporting documents (i.e certified copy of U.S Citizenship/Certificate of Naturalization and Birth Certificate, along with their photo) that they will submit to the acceptance agent in the passport acceptance facility.
Also, please note, they CANNOT submit their passport application online. Instead, they must submit it in person at a local passport acceptance facility, held within many local post offices, public libraries, clerks of court, and/or county, township, and municipal government offices. Also, they should call the facility before showing up as some require appointments. Click here to find the nearest acceptance facility with their contact number.
Once they’re at the facility, they’ll need to submit their application documents to the acceptance agent and pay an application fee. The passport application and renewal application fees are the same – a passport book costs $130, while a passport card costs $30. If they get both the book and card they’ll need to pay $160. This can be paid by check or money order, made out to the U.S Department of State.
First-time applicants will also need to pay a $35 execution fee, which can be paid via cash, debit, or credit card, depending on the acceptable mode of payment of the acceptance facility.
Typically, your kid will receive his or her passport within 8 weeks of a submitted application; if they need it expedited (within 4-6 weeks), they’ll need to pay a $65 expedited service fee via check or money order on top of the other fees.
What if you and your kid live outside the U.S.?
If you and your kid live outside the United States, he or she can still apply for a passport by themselves, however, they must go in person to the local U.S Embassy to apply and prepare to pay the same application fees listed above. If there are further questions he or she may reach out to your local U.S Embassy for further guidance – local contact information may be found at this link.
What if your teen and young adult has previously owned a passport and just needs to apply for a renewal?
If your child first got their passport when he or she was 16 years old or older, his or her passport is valid for 10 years, which means your child can apply for passport renewal like any adult — by mailing their old passport book and/or card (still valid or expired) to the National Passport Processing Center via the United States Postal Service (USPS) or Canada Post if the family resides in Canada by way of the local post office. If your family lives outside the United States or Canada, your child needs to renew his or her passport in person at a local U.S Embassy.
However, if your child got his or her previous passport when he or she was still a minor (under the age of 16), that passport is only valid for 5 years, and he or she is NOT allowed to apply for renewal. Instead, your child must apply for a NEW passport in person following the same process for first-time applicants.
Please note that passport acceptance facilities don’t accept renewal applications. They can simply be renewed by mail or online through the MyTravel website. Keep in mind that teens and young adults under age 24 can only renew their passports by mail. Also note that some local post offices are also passport acceptance facilities, so be aware that when your child is renewing their passport, postal employees shouldn’t need to assess nor approve their application, thus they don’t need to pay the execution fee.
Additional points you and your teens or young adults should take note of before heading to a passport acceptance facility to obtain a passport, or sending their renewal application in by mail:
If you’re going with your 16 or 17 year old to the facility, they won’t need a consent letter since all you have to do is present your I.D to the acceptance agent and sign their application form at the direction of the agent.
And while 16 to 24-year-olds are NOT allowed to submit their passport applications or apply for renewals online, they CAN fill out their applications or renewal forms online using this link, then print them out on single-sided paper and bring them to a facility.
When renewing their passports, the renewal form (with their photo included), along with passport book and/or card, and all relevant payments in check or money order form should be placed in ONE mailing envelope. Don’t forget to write “EXPEDITED” outside the mailing envelope if you or they are paying the expedited service fee.
Please note, passport renewal applications must be mailed to one of the following National Passport Processing Center addresses, based on your location if you’re in the U.S or Canada. If you’re not in the U.S. or Canada, again, renew the passport in person at a U.S. Embassy:
- If you’re in California, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, or Texas:
National Passport Processing Center
Post Office Box 640155, Irving, TX 75064-0155
- For applicants in other states or Canada:
National Passport Processing Center
Post Office Box 90155, Philadelphia, PA 19190-0155
Final notes you’ll want to be aware of when sending your teen or young adult to apply for their passport, or instructing them to renew pre-existing passports online:
- If they’re applying for passport renewal and their surname or first name has been changed since they first applied, they must also submit a certified copy of the legal name change document (i.e court order stating the change of name of your child) in the same mailing envelope. You may refer to this link to learn more.
- Make sure to tell them that it’s highly recommended they process their renewal application nine months prior to passport expiration.
- Even so, always check the expiration date on your child’s passport prior to traveling since certain countries require that passports remain valid for up to six months after travel. Some airlines will NOT allow your child to board if their passport does not meet this requirement.
- If your family frequently travels, check the “52 pages” box at the top of your and your child’s passport application to receive a larger passport book with 52 pages.
- If you have any additional questions regarding the process of passport application and renewal, you may reach out to the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs for more guidance.
Honestly, we’re a little teary-eyed about our and your teenagers and young adults applying for their own passports – *sniff* — they’re taking a BIG step toward our vision of giving our children the world. Yay!
Single parents, where are your kids headed with their new passports?