Although either parent may apply for their minor child’s U.S. passport, U.S. law requires the signature of both parents, or the child’s legal guardians, prior to the issuance of the passport for a child under the age of 16. Both parents must either appear in person to request the passport, or the non-applying parent may sign a form before a notary public granting permission for the issuance of a passport. Alternatively, the parent applying for the passport must document his/her sole authority to obtain a passport for the child. In order to comply with the law, Passport Services will require evidence of one of the following:

  • sole custody
  • a court order allowing the parent to travel with the child
  • a written statement under penalty of perjury that the other parent agrees to issuance or is unavailable
  • a termination of the other parent’s parental rights
  • or compelling humanitarian reasons relating to the welfare of the child

Additionally, the law provides two exceptions to the above requirements: (1) for exigent circumstances, such as those involving the health or welfare of the child, or (2) when the Secretary of State determines that issuance of a passport is warranted by special family circumstances.  

For more information, the U.S. Department of State’s website on children and family is a great resource.