Do I need permission from my spouse or ex-spouse to obtain a passport for my child?
Yes. Whether you are married, divorced, or single, federal law requires
that both parents consent to the issuance of a U.S. passport for any child
under the age of 16.
The easiest way to comply with the two-parent consent requirement is for
both parents to appear in person when their child applies for a passport.
However, if one of the parents is unable to attend, a notarized letter
evidencing his or her consent to apply for the child’s passport
will satisfy the requirement.
For divorced parents or parents that never married, obtaining consent may
be especially complicated. For this reason, there are a few narrow exceptions
to the two-parent consent requirement. These exceptions include:
Sole Legal and Physical Custody. If the applying parent can present proof that the other parent has no
physical or legal custody rights, then the two-parent consent requirement
may be waived.
Unknown Whereabouts of a Parent. If the applying parent can show that the non-consenting parent’s
whereabouts are unknown, the two-parent consent requirement may be waived.
Special Provision. If the applying parent has a copy of a child custody order or parenting
plan that grants him or her the authority to obtain a passport for the
child, the two-parent consent requirement may be waived.
Emergency. If there is a sudden emergency that threatens the health or safety of
the child and requires the issuance of a passport, the two-parent consent
requirement may be waived.
More information about obtaining a passport for a minor can be found at
After you successfully obtain a passport for your child, it is always prudent
to travel with documents that evidence your relationship to the child,
your authority to travel with the child, and the other parent’s
authorization of the trip. Documents you should consider taking in your
carry-on luggage include: a parental consent form signed by the other
parent; a copy of your divorce decree; a copy of your parenting plan or
child custody order; and a copy of your child’s birth certificate
or adoption decree.
I am going through a family law proceeding and I am worried my child’s
other parent will take him or her out of the country, what can I do?
If you are concerned that any person might take your child out of the country
without your consent, you can register your child in the
U.S. Department of State’s Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program. If your child is registered in the program, you will be contacted by
the Department of State whenever a passport application for your child
is submitted. In this way, you can officially note your objection to international
travel with your child and put U.S. passport agencies, embassies, and
consulates on notice. The Request for Entry into the Children’s
Passport Issuance Alert Program can be found here:
If you are involved in a family law proceeding, you may move for a temporary
order to restrain the other parent from taking your child out of the country.
The court may enter an order restricting the child’s travel and/or
require the surrender of the child’s passport to a designee of the
court. If the court issues such an order in your family law case, you
should send a copy of the order to the Department of State to keep on
file in order to ensure that any application for a new passport for the
child is denied.
McKinley Irvin represents many clients in international family law issues
– read more here.
I owe child support arrears and am having trouble obtaining a U.S. passport,
what can I do?
Persons who owe more than $2,500 in child support arrears are unable to
obtain a U.S. passport. If your passport application was rejected due
to outstanding child support owed, your name is on the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) list of outstanding arrears.
To have your name removed from this list, you must first pay off your
outstanding child support owed to the appropriate state enforcement agency.
Once payment has been received, you should contact the enforcement agency
and make sure they send a report verifying your payment to the HHS. Once
the HHS has received the report, your name can be removed from the list
of outstanding arrears. Make sure that the HHS has provided the US Department
of State with an updated copy of the list before you resubmit your passport
If you know you have outstanding child support payments, it is the best
practice to pay off such payments before applying for your passport.