As part of my personal evolution as a travel blogger, this is an early post from Upgrd.com where I joined Matthew and other talented writers (including my husband) which would then merge with Travel Codex, another Boarding Area blog. Finally, we found our home here at Live and Let’s Fly with Matthew. As this is an early post, references have not been updated and may no longer remain accurate. Please enjoy this time capsule blog post.
Do you need an infant passport?
Every minor regardless of their age traveling overseas is required to carry a valid passport. A passport for a minor under the age of 16 is valid for five years.
Before Lucy was born we knew she would need a passport ASAP! She was due to arrive on January 11th and my best friend’s wedding was just a few weeks later in Curaçao which would give us a short time frame to accomplish this task. Lucy decided to postpone her arrival by a week and of course with recovery time and our precious new baby we were not able to really get the ball rolling on her passport until the end of January. With just over a month we started the scramble.
Since we were trying to obtain a passport for Lucy immediately after she was born I was able to pick up the Birth Certificate and Social Security card in person to help expedite the process. I had to pay for an extra copy but the fee was minimal. (Approx. $5-$10)
Infant passport photos, how hard could that be?
Next we would have to have her photo taken. Here is where the debacle really began. We dedicated a full day and drove all over trying to find a place to take Lucy’s passport photo.
Rite Aid, Walgreens, CVS, all of these places had passport photo studios and cameras so you would think this would be a great place to have passport photos taken, but not one would take an infant photo. We were particularly surprised by Walgreens passport photo center denying a baby’s photo. Found near the CVS pharmacy, CVS infant passport photos are a big challenge with linoleum floors and squirming baby, not to mention skittish parents.
After a lot of frustration and a day wasted, I turned to the internet and found that I could just take her photos at home. I even found a website with step-by-step help and ways to check if I had an acceptable photo.
The next day I set Lucy on the bed on top of a white sheet and started snapping away. This was harder than I expected with a newborn. My lighting was bad and my baby did not want to participate. After a good couple of hours I think I managed to get at least one good shot. I decided to check this off my list and call the post office to schedule an appointment.
Getting an appointment
Securing an infant’s passport application is more complicated than just following the photo guidelines. Like adults, a baby’s passport pictures must be the correct size with a white or off white background, printed on photo quality paper, with the mouth closed and eyes open (no smiling.)
The appointments were weeks out, and with time slipping away I made a couple different appointments at different locations in hopes one would work with both Kyle and I’s schedule. (Remember both parents must be present.) Before I hung up the nice lady asked, “Would you like us to take your infant’s passport photo too?”
WHAT?! I had just lost two days over these photos and come to find out I could have just done it all in one go. I decided that actually I would like her to take Lucy’s photos just to make ensure we wouldn’t have a problem later. After all, I had no time to waste with just 4 weeks until we left! The photos are an additional $15 at the post office but as I saw it, the extra expense was worth the piece of mind.
Cue: Super helpful postal worker
When the time came for our appointment I drove Lucy and I downtown, searched for a non-existent parking spot, walked 8 miles uphill each way with a bulky, heavy car seat (because I read online this was needed for infant passport photos) showed up 10 minutes late and without the second parent. Kyle was also searching for a non-existent parking spot, and running behind due to downtown traffic.
The less-than-helpful man behind the counter proceeded to tell me that if Kyle did not show up, we would lose our appointment (fair enough, we were late but the appointment after me no-showed as well) and we would have to come back at a later time. Because of the nature of the document, both parents or guardians (if there are two) must be present. I burst into a hormonal mess. I mean I had just had a baby, I was still recovering from a C-section, I was up against a hard deadline, and I had already battled the other obstacles. This was my last straw!
The less than helpful gentleman must have seen me in the corner bawling my eyes out over the phone to Kyle because he quickly transformed into Mr. Roger’s twin brother and helped a neighbor out. As soon as Kyle arrived he pulled us into his office laid Lucy on a sheet on the ground, snapped a quick picture (which literally took two seconds, and he didn’t even use the carseat) we signed papers, paid fees and BOOM! Just like that it was done and would be mailed to us in a couple of weeks.
Take a look at my “In home” photo vs. Lucy’s now baby passport photo:
While the state department has clear passport photo requirements, using a poster board at home or even printing passport photos online and having them shipped to your home will satisfy the requirements for a passport. It doesn’t mean it won’t be full of “fun” experiences. It can be a nightmare trying to take the perfect passport photos at home but isn’t necessarily easier with places that offer passport photos. We have since tried several passport photo services and visa photos even utilizing a passport agency to ensure we have the right proportion of “full face” with a white background. In retrospect, taking it at home is less agonizing than the post office but only barely.