Planning to travel as a young family can be incredibly exciting. Not only will you be enjoying a trip with everyone you love, but you may be excited for them to meet family and friends across the country for the first time.
But whether traveling by land or sea, ensuring you have everything you need for your baby to travel can be confusing and stressful. You need to make sure that you have the hotel room features you need, properly assigned seats on the plane, ensure your rental vehicle has a car seat, and that you have everything you need to keep your children comfortable and happy during a flight.
And once you have done all of this, you need to make sure that your plans aren't ruined if you learn too late that your baby requires a passport to travel.
Below we will talk you through everything you need to know about whether an infant needs a passport to travel domestically in the United States.
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Does My Baby Need a Passport to Travel?
If you are aged 18 and over, you will need a valid form of government ID to board and fly on a domestic plane in the United States. These forms of ID can be your passport, a state-issued driver's license, or a permanent resident card, according to the TSA.
If you are traveling internationally by air you will need to be able to provide your passport or passport card.
However, whereas these are the requirements for parents or guardians, traveling on a domestic flight for a child is a different proposition. Depending upon your destination, you may not need to provide any ID or passport at all.
Below we will break down what you need for your baby to travel in the US and internationally according to your trip.
Does My Baby Need a Passport for International Flights?
If you are traveling overseas, then you will need to provide a passport for your child when you check in at the airport when you pass through the security checks, and when you arrive at your destination airport.
This is true even if your baby is only one month old, and you will run into trouble if you try to board a flight without arranging for a passport for your child beforehand.
You will need to complete a DS-11 form for your child. The information you will need to provide includes:
- Proof of US citizenship
- A naturalization certification.
- Proof of parental consent from both of their parents or guardians.
- A passport photo of your child.
- Your baby's birth certificate and proof of age.
If your travel destination also has visa requirements, you will need to also apply for a visa for your child.
Given how long it can take for passport and visa applications to be approved, it is always better to apply as far in advance of your travel date as possible. If you think that your departure date will be sooner than your approval date, you can pay for an expedited application by paying an extra cost.
Does My Global Entry or TSA Precheck Membership Cover My Child?
If you have a Global Entry membership, you should not just assume that your children will automatically be covered. If you want your child to benefit from the features of the program, you will need to apply on their behalf and undergo the same process that you did for your own membership. This includes paying the $100 application fee!
In contrast, children aged 12 and under can use the TSA Precheck lane when they are traveling with a guardian or parent who has a membership and the TSA Precheck indication boarding pass.
Does My Baby Need a Passport for Domestic Flights?
The answer to whether your infant needs a passport to travel domestically in the US is usually no. However, for certain flights and destinations, you may need to provide an official document or photo ID.
Many people may decide that applying for and traveling with a child's passport is the most fuss-free way to travel. But, if you aren't planning on traveling internationally with your child, then you may not want to have to deal with the extra admin.
Here's a breakdown of what you need to know about traveling with your child domestically based on their age.
Flying with a New-born Baby.
Although policies can vary from airline to airline, most carriers in the United States will allow infants as young as 2 days old to fly. However, you may be required to provide proof from your physician that your child is fit and healthy to fly.
To avoid extra stress and upset when you travel with your new born, you should contact the airline to double-check whether your physician needs to fill out certain forms and whether you need to provide items such as your baby's birth certificate.
Traveling with a 0-2-year-old.
Children aged under the age of 2 will be able to travel in your lap during the majority of domestic flights. This is because they are considered a "lap child."
Although you will not usually be required to provide proof of ID for your child if they are under 2, the airline may require proof of age for your child. This is because if your child is over 2, they will expect you to purchase a separate seat for your infant. Proof of age can include a copy of their birth certificate or a passport if you have one.
As when traveling with new-borns, it is important that you have a clear idea of the rules and regulations of the airline you are traveling with. The rules and regulations will vary from airline to airline and you don't want your trip to be disrupted when you try to check-in.
Flying with a Child Aged 2 to 18.
After your children have passed the two-year mark - you will be required to pay for a separate seat for them during the flight. Although this means extra cost, it also means that you don't have to provide proof of age anymore. So, there are fewer extra documents to worry about when you are preparing to travel.
Children aged under 18 years old will not need to provide proof of ID to board and make it through security as long as they are traveling with an adult.
However, it may be better to pack a form of ID for your children anyway, just in case. You can bring a copy of their birth certificate or passport so that you have proof of ID quick to hand if any unexpected situations arise.
Takeaway - Does a Baby Need a Passport to Travel Domestically?
Although you won't need a passport to travel domestically with your baby, it is always better to take a boots and buckles approach to your travel. Bringing along proof of age and other forms of ID will help you if you run into problems with boarding and checking in.
If you are traveling with a child under 2 years old, you will need to provide proof of age to avoid an extra charge for a separate seat for your child.
If you are traveling internationally, you will need to apply for a passport for your child. And you may also have to apply for a visa depending on your destination. Make sure that you apply for both of these documents in good time if you want to avoid disappointment when your departure date arrives.
Planning ahead of time and making sure you understand the specific rules of your airline carrier will help you to avoid stress and start your journey with your little one as seamlessly as possible!
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