Important Information for Parents of American Citizen Children Under the Age of 16
Visitors must first schedule an appointment with the U.S. Embassy in Bern here:
Congress passed the Nance-Donovan Act to help prevent international parental child abduction by requiring the consent of both parents, or documentation of sole custody, for passport applications on behalf of children. The latest amendment effective February 1, 2008 requires that for children under the age of 16.
both parents sign the passport application in the presence of a consular officer, or
- if only one parent is applying, he/she must document the other parent’s consent to the application. This would be a notarized letter of consent plus a signed valid passport or identification . Various exceptional circumstances are recognized by the law, as described below.
Please note – We understand it can be difficult for parents and students to visit the Embassy in the morning during school hours. For the convenience of students and parents alike, we have reserved a special block of appointments for children under age 16 in the afternoon on the third Wednesday of each month. You may choose to schedule your appointment during this time or choose one of the regular morning passport appointments throughout the week. To schedule an appointment, please click this link -
These requirements apply to first-time applications and to renewals for children under the age of 16.
How do I apply for/renew a passport for a child under the age of 16?
Effective February 1, 2008, the two parent consent requirement applies to minors under the age of 16 pursuant to a change to Part 51 of 22 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) published in the Federal Register on November 19, 2007. The personal appearance of all minors under the age of 16 is required, with limited provision for waiver, to enhance the accurate identification of passport applicants and aid in the prevention of international child abduction and trafficking.
Any/all parents signing the application must provide evidence of (photocopies are acceptable):
- citizenship and identity of the child: normally a birth certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, naturalization certificate, expired passport, etc; and
- identity of any person signing the application: any reliable valid photo ID (driver's license, all pertinent pages of the passport incl. date and place of issuance, expiration date, etc.); and
- evidence of the parent/guardian status of any person signing the application: the child's birth certificate (listing both parents' names) or an adoption decree (listing both parents' names).
Fill out form (DS-11) and bring it with you.
What if only one parent can sign the application?
In addition to the evidence indicated above, you must submit a notarized statement in English from the non-appearing parent giving unequivocal consent to passport issuance for the child (DS-3053).
- there is no standard language for this statement, but the non-applying parent, regardless of nationality, must consent to passport issuance and sign it before a U.S. or foreign notary public or at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad; the consent must be unequivocal, with no conditions;
- it may be handwritten or typed and must be in English;
- it can be faxed;
- a copy of a valid identity document must accompany the notarized consent
This statement becomes part of the passport application. The applying parent may be subject to criminal charges if the statement of the non-applying parent is found to be fraudulent.
What if only one parent has custody of the child?
In addition to the identity/citizenship evidence described above, the applying parent must provide evidence of custody/guardianship, such as:
- child's birth certificate naming only the applying parent;
- adoption/guardianship decree naming only the applying parent/guardian;
- court order granting sole custody, and with no provision limiting the minor's travel outside the U.S.;
- court order specifically authorizing passport issuance regardless of custody;
- court order declaring the non-applying parent/guardian incompetent;
- death certificate of the non-applying parent.
If such documentation is not available, the applying parent may submit a written notarized affidavit stating why such documentation is not being submitted. Notarization can be done at time of application.
EXCEPTIONS: If the applying parent, legal guardian, or other authorized person claims exigent or special family circumstances exist, he/she must apply in person, and either a) provide evidence of the claim, or b) sign a notarized statement under penalty of perjury describing the exigent or special family circumstances.
- Exigent Circumstances: time-sensitive emergencies in which one or both parental signatures cannot be obtained but not issuing the passport would jeopardize the health or welfare of the child, e.g.:
- The child must travel for medical reasons or due to serious illness or death in the family;
- the child is not accompanied by a parent and is traveling abroad with a school, church or other group;
- the child is being evacuated in a crisis or natural disaster.
- Special Family Circumstances: a family situation prevents one or both parents from signing, e.g.:
- the applying parent has abandoned the family and his/her whereabouts are unknown;
- the non-applying parent is unable to give written consent due to health problems;
- the non-applying parent is incarcerated.
Is a parent's consent required even when the parent is not a U.S. citizen?
Yes. Under the law, consent is the key issue, not citizenship. Both parents, regardless of citizenship, must consent. If a foreign parent does not consent to passport issuance, and both parents have custody, a passport cannot be issued.
Can a U.S. citizen child legally enter the U.S. on a foreign passport?
No. U.S. citizens must enter and leave the U.S on U.S. passports, and a U.S. visa cannot be issued to a U.S. citizen.
Where can I get a copy of the DS-11 passport application?
In person or by mail from the Embassy in Bern or from the Consular Agencies in Geneva or Zurich or http://bern.usembassy.gov/application_in_person.html. Note: Pages 3 and 4 require no data from the applicant but are part of the application form and must be submitted.
What if I have additional questions or comments?
You may contact the Embassy at (031/357-7011) or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit http://bern.usembassy.gov or http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html for further information.