American Passport for an American Baby: 7 Easy Steps

Taking your American baby back ‘home’ for the first time?

While less than half of the general US population have a passport, it’s a required document for expat families. Expecting expats need to accumulate all the traditional baby gear, like a crib, diapers, clothes, blankets, car seat and more; however, you’ll also need an American passport for your American baby if you’re planning on venturing back ‘home’.

Once you’ve received your child’s birth certificate, applying for a passport is pretty straight forward.

baby booties and an American passport

Where do you start?

7 tips for a stress-free American passport application:

1. Get passport photos taken

This can be tricky with little ones, so plan ahead. What time of day are they happiest? If you plan on applying for an additional passport for another country, go to somewhere like Walgreens, where they can print the photos in different dimensions. You can get photos done at the post office, but only in the American size, I think.

2. Choose your Post Office wisely

Visit a few, and ask about making a passport appointment. Each office has varying wait times from a few days, to several weeks.  You’ll also get an idea of their competency when you visit. (The appointment for our older son took over an hour. We tried a different post office for our second son’s application, and it only took 15 minutes!)

3. Both parents should be present at the appointment

It makes everything easier, but if one parent is unavailable, you can complete an additional form, get it notarized, and bring it to the appointment in place of parent #2.

4. Bring lots of original documents.Baby photos and birth certificate - required for an American passport

You’ll typically need the child’s birth certificate, parental birth certificates, and parental ID, such as a driver’s license or a passport. COPIES are NOT accepted.

5. Complete the form at home, in advance of the appointment

It’s pretty simple if you have all of your important documents to hand, but remember to use BLACK ink only!

6. Receive the American passport way sooner than you expected

Both passports we have applied for arrived on our doorstep within 2 weeks of the appointment. (Your child’s birth certificate will arrive separately a few days later). No, we didn’t pay for expedited service. The estimates on the State Department website are just overly generous.

7. Admire the ridiculous photo of your child, and plan your next trip abroad!

albert-on-a-planeHappy travels!

Do you still have questions? The US Department of State actually provides some good guidelines, which are user-friendly, concise and even include a video tutorial.









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About Michelle Laker

A California native; I spent 10 years living, studying, working, (and falling in love) in the United Kingdom. I returned to the Bay Area in 2011, with my British husband in tow. I am re-adjusting to life in the bay, feeling more like an expat than a local. I have spent my career working with international student & families. I love learning about other cultures, languages, and traditions. My desire to welcome newcomers, and help you make the most of your new life in the Bay Area comes from the unforgettable memories (and mistakes) I made during my time in the United Kingdom. If you've just arrived, and don't know where to start, email me ( I am happy to help!

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