Single parents who would like to apply for passports for their children may face an uphill battle. The requirements for obtaining a passport for a child are slightly onerous and require a lot of preparation. The government's plan is to utilize the passport application process for children under 16 as a means to prevent parents from abducting children and taking them to foreign locations, which may be inaccessible for the other parent or unattainable to local authorities.
How to Obtain a Passport for Your Child if You Have Joint Custody
Parents who have joint custody and who wish to apply for either a new or renewal passport for their minor children are expected to:
- Appear together, in person, with proof of their parental relationship (such as a birth certificate listing both parents' names), as well as government-approved proof of identification for both parents, or
- One parent may appear if he/she can prove that he/she has sole custody of the child, or
- One parent may appear with a written, notarized letter, granting him/her consent to apply for the child's passport
Children that are the subject of a custody dispute or a joint custody arrangement may not obtain a United States passport without the consent of both parents. Parents who have joint custody should be sure to request a provision in the child custody order that specifies which parent has the right and the authority to obtain a passport for the child.
Exceptions to Two-Parent Requirement
Often, one parent may not be aware of another parent's whereabouts. Therefore, it is impossible for those parents to fulfill the government's legal requirements for securing a passport for a child. Fortunately, though, there are a few exceptions to the rule which requires a two-parent appearance and agreement to issue a passport for a child. This exception exists only for special circumstances, such as:
- An inability to locate the other parent.
- Emergency situations that require a parent to leave the country for the health or safety of the child
A parent who has other special circumstances can write a letter, describing the special circumstance which prevents him/her from meeting the two-parent passport issuance requirement.
One last thing: don't forget to bring your child with you to your passport processing appointment. The child's passport picture will be compared with the actual child to ensure that you're applying for a passport for your child.