Until recently, I didn’t know anything about getting a newborn passport. At the beginning of the month I went to Canada for some television appearances for The Fringe Hours. Obviously, since I am nursing full-time, Ezra went with me. He was eight weeks old.
My smart publicist said in November, we will want to be sure that Ezra has a passport for the trip.
I did what any modern mom does when she doesn’t know the answer to something – I went to Facebook. What do I need to do to make sure I can get a newborn passport? I’ll be traveling out of the country 8 weeks after he is born.
Unfortunately, the advice I was given was not right and the whole process ended up being quite stressful. So if you find yourself needing a newborn passport, here is my advice:
- Find out in advance how quickly you can get a birth certificate. This was the biggest hurdle. In Nashville, it takes 4-6 weeks and certificates can only be expedited for military and in an emergency (a pre-planned out of the country trip is not an emergency). Friends told me I could just go to the office in person and get it right away, but this was NOT TRUE. Typically the passport office wants a long-form birth certificate, but we submitted a short form certificate for Ezra and it worked fine. We were able to get the short form in 4 weeks, but the long-form wasn’t available until 6 weeks.
- Make an appointment with your local post office ASAP for submitting your passport paperwork. This was a mistake for us, as we did not realize we needed to make an appointment for a weekday. (We knew weekend appointments filled up quickly, but turns out, at least in Nashville, they all do! When we went to make an appointment, the wait was one month). Seriously, if you are pregnant and know you are going to need a passport for your baby, make the appointment now. Just know that you will need that birth certificate.
- If you need a passport quickly, pay the rush fee. You can pay just $60 extra to have your passport application rushed. Normally it takes 4-6 weeks to get a passport, but the rush service will have it to you within three. Ezra’s arrived in just one week.
- Your congressman can help! If you have any trouble with making the appointment or are concerned about the time to get your passport rushed, call your local congressman’s office. They can help with both appointments and getting your passport expedited (even with the rush service). My congressman’s office was amazing. They helped me find a post office that would work me in the same day (despite every office previously telling me I couldn’t get in for a month) and said that they would follow-up with the passport office if I had any hiccups with my rush. Do not use one of those rush my passport services. Your congressman’s office can help!
- Get a passport application from the post office. This blew my mind. Though you can download a passport application to print and fill out from the Internet, the post office said that the 8.5×11 print out is slightly too small and I had to redo it. Why do they make it available then?!
A few other notes:
Regarding your baby’s passport photo, it is recommended that the baby wear a bright color and not a pastel. Also, your baby doesn’t have to be awake for his photo.
We had our photo done at the post office to make it easy. They simply put a white cloth in the car seat, then we put Ezra in it. He even opened his eyes.
Also, if you are not traveling with both of the baby’s parents, be sure to have a letter from the father or mother that is not with you giving you permission to travel with the baby. At customs in Canada I had to go through an extra step because I did not have a letter from Matthew saying I could travel out of the country with Ezra. (They recommended this link for creating the consent letter.)
Have you had to get a newborn passport? What tips would you add?