Question: I'm planning a family vacation to Europe, does my baby need a passport?

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Yes they do. All minors, even newborns or small children, need a passport if they are traveling by air to an international destination.

What do you need to bring to the post office?

Application For A U.S. Passport:

The main document you're going to need is Application For A U.S. Passport. You can find this form either online at the State Department's website, or at your local post office. Both you and your baby need to visit the post office in person to submit your passport application before you travel. Completely fill out the form but do not sign it until the post office clerk tells you to.

Also for those hesitant about providing your social security number, be prepared to give it up or your application may be denied.

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Evidence of your child's citizenship:

When you visit the post office, make sure you have proof of your child's US Citizenship. This can include an original or certified copy of their birth certificate. This document serves as proof of your child's citizenship but also evidence of relationship between you and your child. The birth certificate must include the names of both parents.

You will have to give the clerk an official document. Since you're submitting an original document, it's best to get a certified copy for yourself just in case yours gets lost.

Evidence of relationship:

If you adopted a child, you will need to bring the official adoption decree with your name on it. Also if you have legal custody of a child, you will need to bring the original court order granting you custody or guardianship.

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Photo id:

A copy of your photo id must be submitted with the application. The copy should include the front and back of your identification. You can make the picture bigger but you can't make it smaller. Bring the actual id as well as a copy to submit with the application. Don’t rely on the post office's copier working or the staff making a copy for you. If you don’t have a driver's license, you can bring a previously issued passport, naturalization certificate, government issued id or military id.

If you decide to get a passport in a neighboring state and not the one you live in, you must bring a backup id that includes your phone, full name, date or birth and date it was issued.

Parental consent:

Generally both parents have to be present to submit the passport application. However there are exceptions to this. One parent can bring the child along with a notarized consent form from the other parent. Or if you have sole legal custody, you can present the court order granting you that custody. If your child's other parent has passed away, you will need to submit a death certificate. Also if you receive consent from your child's non-custodial parent, it's only good for 3 months, so don’t hang on to the paperwork too long.

Present the application fee:

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The cost for a regular passport book is $105. For a passport book and card it's $120. The cost of the passport card is $40. A passport card can only be used if you're not traveling by air. For example, if you're taking a cruise or driving to Mexico.

Passport photo:

While you can take the photo at home, it's best to go to a place that offers passport photos. They know the requirements and it's fairly easy to obtain. When I was getting my passport photo, I went to my local Walgreens and was out in thirty minutes.

If you do decide to take a picture of your baby yourself, either lay them on a white sheet to provide a plain background or cover their car seat with a white sheet and take a picture of your baby in the seat. Make sure that their eyes are open and that there are no shadows in the picture.

How fast do you need a passport for your baby?

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The cost for an expedited passport is $65. That's in addition to the application fee. Right now the processing time is approximately 4-6 weeks. If your trip is scheduled for months in advance, it's a good idea to just wait. If you are traveling sooner and want expedited service, the time frame is 2-3 weeks.

The State Department recommends you use overnight delivery to have your passport returned to you. The cost for that is $12.85. I didn’t pay for this service and received my passport and other documents without any issues. However many feel more comfortable using this service.

By taking into account the above tips and suggestions, getting a passport will be an easy and smooth process.