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Does my baby need a passport?

The one thing you need to remember before you jet off with your little one - we tell all you need to know about getting a passport for your baby.
Whether you are dreaming of blue skies and sandy beaches, rolling green hills, frosty snow or something entirely different, before you even think about looking for an ideal destination for your baby's first holiday abroad it's essential that you sort out a passport for your little one, otherwise your daydreams may just have to stay that way.

To help you get the boring but necessary part of holidays out of the way with minimum hassle we explain how you can go about getting a baby passport.

Does my baby need a passport?

While in the past it was possible to include your children on your passport, the rules changed in October 1998 and now all infants need their own passport to travel abroad no matter how young they are. The only exception to this rule is for children who are already included on their parent's passports as these will continue to be valid until the adult passport needs to be updated or renewed.

How can I get one?

There is a standard form that can be used for all passport applications. This is available either online or from your local Post Office, or you can have it sent to you by filling in an online request form or calling the IPS (Identity and Passport Service) helpline number. You will need to complete the form (it comes with comprehensive instructions), get it counter signed by a 'professional' that has known you for at least 2 years and send it to the address provided along with the requested documentation; for added security the IPS recommend that you send your application using Special Delivery. Some Post Offices also offer a 'Check and Send' service where they ensure that you have filled in the form correctly and have included all the necessary documentation.

What documents will I need?

To apply for a baby passport you will need a completed application form, an original copy of your baby's full birth certificate (this will be returned to you with the passport), 2 certified passport photos (signed on the reverse by a 'professional' that has known you personally for at least 2 years, this person will also need to sign the passport application form) and proof of one parent's nationality or immigration status such as their passport, birth certificate or a Home Office certification of their registration.

What kind of photo is needed?

As with adult passports, there are strict standards applied to the photographs accepted for baby's passports. Guidelines include:
  • The photo's must be 'professionally printed', 45mm in height and 35mm in width.

  • Photo's must be taken against a plain, off white, light grey or cream background so that your baby's features are easily distinguishable.

  • The photographs must be of your baby on their own with no dummies, toys or people in view. This can be easier said than done as your hands aren't even allowed to be in the picture so it can be a good idea to place a white towel over your baby's car seat and sit them on this when they're in the photo booth.

  • The whole of your baby's face must be displayed in the photos and infants over 6 months of age must have their eyes open. If at all possible your baby should have their eyes looking towards the camera and mouth closed however the IPS do appreciate that this can be difficult and so will sometimes make exceptions.
How long will the application take?

Applying for your baby's passport isn't something that should be left until the last minute and generally the earlier you can get your application in the better. Although most postal passport applications are processed within approximately 3 weeks and those made via the Post Offices' 'Check and Send' service are processed in roughly 2 weeks, for first passport applications the IPS recommend that you make your application at least 6 weeks before you plan to travel.

How long does a child passport last?

Your baby's first passport will be valid for 5 years from its date of issue after which you'll be able to get it renewed every 5 years until they reach their 16th birthday and need an adult passport.

Where can I go for more information?

The Home Office's official Identity & Passport Service website should have all the information and advice you need to get your baby's passport sorted. However, your local Post Office should be able to help you too.

Whether you're planning your first holiday with your little one or fancy a chat about something else, why not visit the AskBaby forums and share your questions, advice and experience with other members.

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it is untrue that a baby can travel on parents passport 'as long as this passport is still valid'
If you are travelling with a baby and you need a visa - the baby MUST have their own passport - there are no exceptions to this rule.
In any event it is always best for baby to have their own passport - its fun to look at the picture and its great to show off stamps in your baby's passport.

ps - I am a travel agent
by donpow 25th Jun 2008, 10:26am