Photo: Matt Brubeck

The time has arrived. You received the awesome invitation to a destination wedding, family reunion, or a few friends are taking their kids to a great spot. It’s been a few months since baby was born and weren’t you just saying the other day that you are starting to feel like yourself again? Let’s do this! But wait. You need a passport for baby. And so the questions begin. Having secured three baby passports in the last 18 months, I have come up with a few tips and tricks to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

The first thing you should do is visit the official website of the U.S. Department of State for the down and dirty details. Then, follow my simple steps to baby passport success! Note: It takes a minimum of six to eight weeks to receive a passport.

A Family Affair

It is mandatory that both parents appear to request a minor’s passport. If one parent cannot appear, then you have to obtain a signed affidavit from the absent parent. P.S. One cannot wait in the car with the other kids and do a switch-a-roo, we tried that. They want you both front and center.

Location, Location, Location

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Before you put your sweet baby in the car make 100% sure that you have the right location. Not every U.S. Postal Office is a passport center and the passport window can have different hours than the regular post office. Check this information very carefully or you could wind up with three crying babies in the car waiting for a post office to open. Don’t ask me how I know this. I suggest that you do a drive by without baby and check out the time of day that will have the shortest line for passports. **The DS-11 form is usually available at the post office, but I strongly encourage you to print it out at home and bring it completed.

Baby Pictures

In order for the government to accept baby’s passport picture, baby must be facing forward with his or her head straight, both eyes open, and as close as possible to both ears showing. Baby CANNOT have a tilted head. This is difficult and a complaint I have heard from other parents who had photos returned. Put baby in simple solid colors so there is not a distracting pattern in the photo. Babies are not allowed to wear any kind of hair bow or barrette, so this is not a Toddlers and Tiaras photo shoot. (Yes, I did try to put a big ol’ bow in baby girl’s hair and was told to remove it). I suggest spending a few extra dollars and having the photos taken at the post office. My son’s seemingly perfect picture was rejected. In the case that the photo is sent back the post office will take it again for free. If you have to return to Walgreens, etc. to print pictures it can add up. If you are crunched for time Passport Photo Booth is an app you can use to take passport pictures on your phone.

Bye, Bye Baby! 

You have to mail in the original birth certificate and they will keep it for 6-8 weeks. Make sure to make copies of baby’s birth certificate as you may need it for insurance proof or other things.

Timing is Everything

Try to take baby when she has been fed and well rested. Take toys and snacks. You might face a long wait in line and getting all of this done with a cranky baby will make everyone have a bad day. Additionally, make sure you order the passport well before you plan to travel. Expedited passports are EXPENSIVE and there is a chance they will reject your pictures or request other information. Eight weeks before travel is the recommendation to receive the passport in a timely manner.

There you have it! Simple tips and tricks to get your baby’s passport without stress! Happy Travels!