Countries around the world have opened up for international travel again. This might mean that your children can go abroad again to visit your co-parent. International child custody arrangements are always complicated, but making it work for the kids’ sake can significantly benefit their emotional well-being.
To travel from the U.S. to another country and back, citizens need passports. Children are no exception. The State Department has special rules for obtaining a passport for a minor under 16 years old.
- Children must apply in person with two parents or guardians. If one parent cannot appear, they can submit a notarized Form DS-3053 giving consent to the proceedings.
- The parents/guardians must fill out Form DS-11, entering their name or the other parent/guardian’s name in the line titled “In Care Of” in the address section of the form. You can apply for a passport book, a card or both. As part of filling out the form, you are required to include the child’s Social Security Number. If they don’t have one, you must include a signed statement saying so. Don’t sign the Form DS-11 until the acceptance agent tells you to.
- Along with Form DS-11, you must prove that the child is a U.S. citizen. You can use the child’s birth certificate, old, expired passport, Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth, or Certificate of Citizenship. You must bring the original document or a certified, physical copy. A digital copy will not be accepted.
- Next, you must prove that you are the child’s parent or legal guardian. You can use the child’s U.S. or foreign birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth, an adoption decree, or a divorce or child custody decree. You must also bring proof of ID, such as your own passport, a valid driver’s license, a green card or a Certificate of Naturalization.
- Finally, you need to include a photo of the child. The photo must be in color, show the child’s face clearly (without glasses if they wear them), and be in front of a white or off-white background.
If you like, an attorney can help you fill out the necessary forms and gather the rest of the documents you need.