Amazing Travel With Your Kids
Travel anywhere now requires passports for all U.S citizens including children. This is generally a simple process, but there are a few tips and tricks to avoid delays. I'll share a few of these problems and how to work around them.
Don't skimp here. Just pay the extra bit and have quality photos taken that are the correct dimensions. This is a major issue for do-it-yourself photos submitted to the passport agency. The criteria are quite strict and if your photos do not match the proper dimensions your application will be returned.
An easy answer is to utilize the photo services at many large drugstore retailers such as Walgreens,etc. Drivers license bureaus are another option. This will ensure that your photos are accepted the first time around.
Depending on the state the child was born, this can add some delay and expense to the process. Always request a copy with a raised seal. This is an easily overlooked requirement. I recommend ordering two copies, that way you will always have a backup on file. The original or a copy of the original with the raised seal is required. If you photo copy it and send it in, your application will also be denied and returned to you.
Be sure to read the fine print here. The requirements are very specific in regards to what is required to take a child out of the country. The issue is a bit more complicated if the parents are divorced, foster parents or grandparents are involved or planning on taking the child out of the U.S. Be sure to read this section carefully if your family is split. Specific documentation is required to process passports in this situation.
Everyone Should Show Up
Complete the application carefully at home and double check social security numbers, birthdates, etc. Don't Sign the application. This can cause the passport accepting agent to reject your applications. Be sure to bring your drivers license with when filing the passport application. We brought our children with and they enjoyed the process. The passport agent read the oath to them and had them sign their names. It made the upcoming trip seem more tangible to them.
Both parents presence also makes the application process a bit faster. Make sure the passport agent makes a copy of both parents' drivers licenses and fills out the verification box for both parents. This was overlooked when we submitted applications for our children and caused a significant delay in getting the actual passports. We ended up resubmitting their entire applications, filling out new forms and sending them back to the passport agency. This time the accepting agent neglected to include my wife's drivers license copy. Fortunately, the passport agency contacted us by phone and requested this missing piece of data. Overall, the added delay was an additional four weeks.
Time Is Money
As we researched out trip and narrowed down vacation rentals we became more anxious to get the actual passports. We were not comfortable booking airfare until the passports were in hand. The end result was that our two most favorite beach homes were already rented for the period of our trip and the airfare prices bumped up another $45 per ticket. Multiply that by 5 and you can see the impact.
All Things Learned
Although the above was a painful experience with many trips back to the post office to submit and resubmit (twice) our childrens' passport applications, we are now armed with the simple things to prevent delay in the future. After all, child passports are only good for 5 years. But for now, we will just enjoy the adventures ahead for our party of 5.
Enjoy the Amazing Travel With Your Kids!