What Is a Child Passport?

Alex Tree
Alex Tree
Child passports are issued to minors as a means of verifying identity and nationality when traveling.
Child passports are issued to minors as a means of verifying identity and nationality when traveling.

A child passport is a travel document used to verify a minor’s identify and nationality. It is essentially a small booklet, usually with less than 50 pages, though pages can usually be added upon request. To apply for a child passport, a guardian must fill out an application and turn it in to a passport service, along with a fee. All passports require a photo, and even baby passports must meet relatively strict guidelines. Minors may no longer be allowed to use a children’s passport after the age of 16 or 17.

The primary purpose of a child passport is to identify a child while he or she is traveling abroad. International travel usually requires having a passport for identification, and children are no exception to the rule. In addition, a children’s passport can be used to verify the identity of a child domestically; specifically, a passport can also be used to verify the home country of a child when attempting to seek aid at a consulate in a foreign country. A child passport is useful in all situations where it is important to prove what country a child is from or other identifying facts.

To get a child passport, a guardian must prove the child’s citizenship and provide proof of his or her relationship to the child. Sometimes both parents must appear in person to get their child a passport. Depending on the country, one parent might be able to get a passport for the child as long as he or she can prove the other parent consents. The cost of a child passport varies, but they are usually less than the cost of an adult passport.

Governments and airlines are usually no less strict when it comes to child passport photographs. Having hair across the eyes, an open mouth, or shadows on the face are all against typical passport photo guidelines. To take a baby’s photograph, it is usually recommended to lie the baby on a light-colored sheet and then take the photo from directly above him or her. The inclusion of blankets, toys, or siblings makes the photo inappropriate for use as a passport photo.

Some countries do not allow citizens to continue using a child’s passport after a certain age. In these cases, it is usually necessary for the citizen to change to an adult passport as soon as he or she is of age, which is usually around 16 to 19 years old. Some countries do not have this restriction and allow adults to continue using a child passport until it expires.

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Discussion Comments


@indigomoth - Actually there are still some countries that allow parents to hold a family passport rather than requiring individual passports for all their kids.

I think once you get to a certain age you want to be able to have your own passport though. I mean, technically they could probably keep their kids on that family passport until they were 16 or even 18, but that would mean the child could never go on an international trip without the parent. In places where there's good places to visit only a few miles away that must be really restricting.

I know as soon as I was allowed, I'd want to get onto an adult passport, or at least my own individual child passport.


@irontoenail - Well, actually they need to give each child an individual passport these days for safety reasons. I mean, if you think about it, if the child is irrevocably tied to one of the parents in terms of a passport, that makes it much easier for that parent to take of with the child, since you can't just take off their passport altogether.

And, as you say, it's difficult to tell children apart, so having them listed in a family passport makes it more likely that mistakes will be made when processing them. Individual passports mean it's all much more clear.

Sure, child passport renewal can be a pain, particularly since they require you to do it whenever the kid changes appearance which seems like all the time, but I can understand the reasons behind it.


I think it used to be that you could get what was called a family passport, rather than having to get a passport for each individual child.

This makes more sense to me, just because if you've got, say, three kids under the age of five, having to deal with individual passports seems like a waste of time.

With a family passport, you could just put the photos of all the children into one passport, usually the one used by a mother, and that was it.

It's pretty difficult for an outsider to tell kids apart at that age anyway, so it seems like that's a better system, at least for an infant passport.

But, I guess they make more money having to issue a passport for each child.

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    • Child passports are issued to minors as a means of verifying identity and nationality when traveling.
      By: charles taylor
      Child passports are issued to minors as a means of verifying identity and nationality when traveling.