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Passport applications and renewals for teens


Applying for a passport is a significant step towards independence for many teens. It opens doors to international travel and serves as a vital form of identification. Navigating the passport application and renewal process can be daunting, especially for teenagers transitioning from child to adult requirements. This article aims to simplify that journey.

teenagers with passports in Italy

The rules differ slightly from those for children and adults, especially regarding parental consent and documentation. For teens, particularly those aged 16 and 17, the process marks a blend of child and adult procedures. Parents and teens alike must be aware of these unique requirements to ensure a smooth application experience.

This guide provides comprehensive insights into the passport application and renewal process for teenagers. From first-time applications to renewals at pivotal ages, it covers everything you need to know. We’ll explore specific scenarios, such as applying without parental consent and the changes that occur when a teen turns 18. Additionally, we’ll address common questions and pitfalls to avoid.

With my background as a retired employee from the US Department of State, I bring firsthand experience in reviewing passport applications. Let this article be your trusted guide, helping teens and their parents confidently and easily navigate this important rite of passage.

Eligibility Criteria for Teen Passport Applications

Navigating the passport application process for teens requires understanding specific eligibility criteria. For teenagers, particularly those aged 16 and 17, the requirements blend elements from both child and adult application procedures. It’s essential to grasp these distinctions to ensure a successful application.

Firstly, teens aged 16 and 17 fall into a unique category. They are old enough to apply for a ten-year adult passport, yet parental involvement is still significant in their application process. Parental consent is a key requirement, typically demonstrated through a parent’s presence during the application or a notarized statement of consent.

Documentation is another crucial aspect. Teens must provide proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or naturalization certificate, and a valid form of photo identification. If a driver’s license isn’t available, a school ID or even a parent’s ID, accompanied by a parental oath, can suffice.

Teens should also be aware that they cannot renew their previous child passports; instead, they must apply in person for a new adult passport. This involves completing Form DS-11, rather than the renewal Form DS-82.

Understanding these eligibility criteria is vital for a smooth application process. Parents and teens should prepare the necessary documents and understand the role parental consent plays in the application. With proper preparation, navigating the application process becomes a straightforward task.

Parental Involvement in Teen Passport Applications

Parental involvement plays a significant role in the passport application process for teens, especially those under 18. Understanding the extent and nature of this involvement is crucial for both parents and teens.

For teens aged 16 and 17, parental consent is a key requirement. This can be demonstrated in various ways:

  1. Accompanying the Teen: A common method is for one parent to be present with the teen at the passport acceptance facility. This direct involvement ensures that parents are aware and supportive of the passport application.
  2. Written Consent: If a parent cannot be present, a notarized statement of consent from one parent can suffice. This statement should indicate the parent’s awareness and agreement for the passport application.

The level of parental involvement changes when a teen turns 18. At this age, the passport issuing authority considers teens as adults, and parental consent is no longer required. However, guidance and support from parents can still be beneficial, especially for first-time adult applicants.

For parents, it’s important to balance the need for consent and involvement with encouraging independence in their teens. This process can be a valuable learning experience, teaching responsibility and the importance of official documentation.

Parental involvement, tailored to the age and maturity of the teen, ensures a smooth and compliant passport application process.

Step-by-Step Guide to Applying for a Teen’s First Passport

Applying for a first passport as a teenager involves a few key steps. This guide provides a clear, step-by-step approach to ensure teens and their parents can navigate the process efficiently.

Step 1: Gather Required Documentation
Teens need to collect several documents, including proof of U.S. citizenship (like a birth certificate or naturalization certificate), a government-issued photo ID (such as a driver’s license or a school ID with a parent’s ID), and a passport photo that meets specific requirements. Passport Photo Kit can complete all the documentation and photo for you, right from your phone.

Step 2: Complete Form DS-11
This form is for first-time applicants. You can find it online, but you must submit it in person. Ensure you fill out all sections accurately to avoid delays.

Step 3: Parental Consent
For applicants 16 to 18, parental consent is crucial. To demonstrate this, one parent can accompany the teen to the passport acceptance facility, or they can provide a notarized statement of consent. For applicants under 16, both parents may need to be present.

Step 4: Visit a Passport Acceptance Facility
Find a local facility, such as a post office or public library. You may need an appointment, so it’s advisable to check in advance.

Step 5: Pay the Application Fee
Fees vary depending on whether the teen is opting for a passport book, card, or both. It’s important to check the current fees and acceptable payment methods.

Step 6: Wait for the Passport
Processing times can vary, but typically, it takes about 6-8 weeks to receive a passport. Expedited services are available for an additional fee.

By following these steps, teens can successfully apply for their first passport, paving the way for exciting travel opportunities.

Continuing with the next section:

Renewals for Teens: What Changes at 16

The process of renewing a passport for a teenager, especially as they turn 16, involves some notable changes compared to renewing a child’s passport. It’s essential for both teens and their parents to understand these differences to ensure a smooth renewal process.

When a teen turns 16, they transition from the child passport category to an adult passport. This shift brings several changes:

  1. Application Form: At age 16, teens must use Form DS-11, the same form used for first-time adult applications, rather than the renewal form DS-82.
  2. Parental Consent: While parental consent is still necessary, the form it takes can change. Teens aged 16 and 17 still need to show parental awareness of their application. A parent can demonstrate this by accompanying the teen to the passport agency or by providing a signed statement.
  3. Appearance in Person: Teens must apply in person, even if they had a passport as a child.
  4. Document Requirements: They need to provide original or certified copies of proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, along with a photo ID.

Understanding these changes is crucial for a hassle-free renewal process. By preparing the right documents and being aware of the new requirements, teens and their parents can navigate the passport renewal process more effectively.

Navigating Passport Applications without Parental Consent

Applying for a passport without parental consent is a scenario that some 17-year-olds might face. While the standard process requires parental involvement, there are circumstances where a teen can apply independently.

The U.S. Department of State recognizes certain exceptions where a 17-year-old can apply for a passport without a parent:

  1. Emancipated Minors: A legally emancipated teen can apply without parental consent. Proof of emancipation, such as a court order, must be provided.
  2. Special Family Circumstances: If a teen does not have contact with one or both parents, or if there are other unique family situations, the requirements for parental consent might be waived. This requires additional documentation and possibly a statement explaining the circumstances.
  3. Military or Government Service: Teens in certain government or military roles might be exempt from the parental consent requirement.

It’s important to note that these exceptions are not the norm, and the standard process typically involves parental consent. Teens in these unique situations should consult with a passport acceptance agent or legal advisor to understand the specific documentation and steps required.

Proceeding with the next section:

Turning 18: New Passport or Renewal?

A common question among teens approaching their 18th birthday is whether they need a new passport or just a renewal. When a teen turns 18, they officially move from the teen to the adult category in terms of passport applications. Here’s what they need to know:

  1. New Adult Passport: If a teen’s passport was issued before they turned 16, they must apply for a new adult passport using Form DS-11. This is because passports issued to children under 16 are only valid for five years.
  2. Renewal: If the teen’s current passport was issued when they were 16 or 17, they can renew it using Form DS-82. You can submit this simpler form by mail.
  3. Parental Consent: Once a teen turns 18, they no longer need parental consent for either a new application or a renewal.
  4. Documentation: The required documents remain similar to those for younger teens, including proof of citizenship and a valid photo ID.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Teen Passport Applications

Applying for a passport as a teen or for a teen can be a complex process, and certain common mistakes can lead to delays or rejection of the application. Being aware of these pitfalls can help ensure a smooth application process.

  1. Incomplete Forms: Filling out the DS-11 form inaccurately or incompletely is a common error. Double-check all sections for completeness and accuracy.
  2. Incorrect Photos: Passport photos must meet specific requirements regarding size, background color, and the subject’s appearance. Non-compliant photos are a frequent reason for application delays.
  3. Lack of Parental Consent: For teens under 18, failing to provide the required parental consent can lead to application rejection. Ensure that the appropriate form of consent is provided.
  4. Not Applying in Person: Teens, especially those applying for their first adult passport or renewing a child’s passport, must apply in person. Mailing the application is not an option.
  5. Old or Incorrect Documentation: Submitting outdated or incorrect proof of citizenship can cause issues. Always use current and valid documentation.
  6. Underestimating Processing Times: Not allowing enough time for processing and delivery of the passport can lead to travel disruptions. Apply well in advance of any planned travel.


Can a 17-year-old get a passport without parents?

For passport applications, parental consent is typically required for those under 18. However, there are exceptions for emancipated minors or those with special family circumstances. In such cases, additional documentation and legal advice might be necessary.

Do you need a new passport when you turn 18?

If your passport was issued when you were 16 or 17, you can renew it using Form DS-82. However, if your passport was issued before you turned 16, you need to apply for a new adult passport using Form DS-11.

Do you have to get a new passport when you turn 18?

It depends on when your current passport was issued. Passports issued to applicants under 16 are valid for 5 years. If your passport was issued before you were 16, you’ll need a new one at 18. If issued at 16 or 17, you can renew it.

What is the process for passport renewal for a 16-year-old?

Sixteen-year-olds must apply in person using Form DS-11, showing parental awareness (through presence or a written consent), providing proof of citizenship, a photo ID, and passport photos.

Do you need a parent to get a passport at 18?

No, at 18, you are considered an adult for passport purposes and do not require parental consent. You’ll need to provide your own proof of citizenship and photo ID.

How do you renew a passport for a 16-year-old?

The renewal process for a 16-year-old is similar to applying for a new passport. It involves using Form DS-11, applying in person, providing parental consent, and submitting the required documents and photos.

What documents are needed for a teen’s passport application?

Teens need proof of U.S. citizenship (like a birth certificate), a photo ID (driver’s license or school ID with a parent’s ID), and passport photos. Those under 18 also require parental consent.

Resources and Further Reading

For further information and resources related to passport applications and renewals for teens, the following links and references can be incredibly helpful:

  1. U.S. Department of State – Passport Services: The official website provides comprehensive information on passport applications, including forms, fees, and processing times. U.S. Department of State – Passports
  2. Form DS-11: This application form is for first-time applicants and those renewing passports issued before the age of 16. The form and instructions can be found here.
  3. Form DS-82: Used for renewing passports that were issued to applicants aged 16 or 17. More details can be found here.
  4. Passport Acceptance Facility Search Page: To find the nearest location to apply in person, visit this page.
  5. Passport Photo Requirements: Ensure your passport photos meet the required standards by checking the guidelines here.

These resources provide valuable guidance for navigating the passport application and renewal process for teens. Staying informed and prepared is key to ensuring a successful and stress-free experience.