Family trips are a great way to spend time with family getting to know each other and see different experiences. From traveling to visit grandma or visiting your uncle to taking your children to see a World Cup soccer game, traveling with children can be a great experience. That being said it is important to have the right documents for your children in order for them to travel safely with you. Many travelers are not aware that any international flight will require a passport even for minors. This means that every child who is traveling with you must have their own passport in order to make their trip.
The process of getting a minor’s U.S. passport is different from that of an adult. The main reason is because parental consent from both parents is required if both parents are listed on the birth certificate and both have custody of the child. In cases where sole custody has been obtained a DS 3053 is not required but you will need the certified copy of the court documents indicating this.
What does parental consent really mean? In a nutshell it means that both parents if listed on the birth certificate must give consent to the issuance of the passport. This is done usually in person either at a post office, county clerk or passport agency. It is a very easy process as long as you appear with the child, birth certificate and previous passport if the minor has had a previous passport. The birth certificate is important especially at the post office or county clerk because the birth certificate lists parentage while the passport does not. If only one parent is listed on the birth certificate then only the parent listed on the birth certificate can apply with the minor being present. If both parents are listed then both parents have to attend with the minor.
However, there are some instances where one parent cannot attend. In these cases the state department allows the non attending parent to fill out a form called a DS #3053 which must be notarized and turned in by the attending parent along with a copy of the non attending parent’s ID used to notarize the DS #3053. This form properly filled out and presented along with a clear copy of the ID will work just fine.
That being said, the success rate of filling out this form is below 50%. Why is that? Unfortunately the non attending parent simply does not take the time to properly fill out the form. As a result they submit an incomplete form that the State Department rejects. In these cases the form has to be redone and sent back in. Almost daily we see at the agency a scenario where a parent is frantically calling the non attending parent to get a new form or race to the agency to sign off on the needed forms. All because they didn’t put the date of birth of the child on the form, neglected to put the child’s middle name, neglected to put their address or neglected to properly authorize the attending parent by writing their name correctly on the form. Another important item is that the form must be signed and notarized by a notary public. Failure to notarize the form or to sign it one day and then notarize it on another will cause the form to be rejected.
While these omissions seem trivial it is important to understand that this form is the last line of defense the State Department has against issuing a passport to a minor ensuring both parents give consent. It is a safety feature done in the best interests of the child. In the State Department’s eyes, each parent should know their child’s middle name, their date of birth and their own address. You are expected to sign the form in the presence of a notary so if you sign the form on January 1st and then notarize it on January 2nd the form will be rejected because in the State Department’s eyes, the notary did not witness your signature. Any delay requires a new form from the non attending parent notarized. In some cases this can cause days delays and even missed trips. Such is the importance of filling out this form correctly the first time.
Filling out this form properly requires 10 minutes and must be filled out by the parent who is not attending. Below is the updated version of the DS 3053:
Please note that there are 5 questions in total that must be answered. Each question must be answered completely. Here is some help in filling out this form;
Question #1 asks for the minor’s name in FULL…you will note that the minor’s last name must go in the last name section and so on. If you mistakenly put the first name in the last name section you have to do it over again.
Question #2 asks for the minor’s date of BIRTH…please do not leave this blank. Again, the State Department expects you to know the answer to this question so do not leave it blank.
Question #3 asks for the parent to indicate what they are requesting. Please check the appropriate box (most request the passport book)
Question #4 has two parts. The first part (4a.) asks if the child is under 16 years old. If the answer is yes then you must fill in the second part (4b.).
Question #5 asks that you list your information and authorize the attending parent to do the passport. You must list the authorizing parent not the minor. DO NOT SIGN UNTIL YOU ARE IN THE PRESENCE OF THE NOTARY.
Please use the same color ink throughout the form…any indication the form was filled out by someone else will invalidate the form.
Be sure the notary is notarizing the documentation on the same day you sign.
Your signature must match the signature on the ID you are using. This is another popular reason for rejecting the form.
Do not cross out any dates or information. If you misspelled something or wrote the date wrong do it again because it will be denied.
Above all….take your TIME. By taking 10 minutes to fill out this form properly will save you days, additional cost and quite possibly a missed trip. Follow these steps and taking your time will make this process smoother and easier.
We are a passport and visa expediting service with offices in Downtown Orlando and Coral Gables Florida. Allow us to expedite your passport processing. We do accept appointments. Please click the office you would like to visit below to set it up.