How to Get a Passport for a Child When One Parent Is Absent

How to get a child's passport when one parent is absent
Credit - Nicole Geri - Unsplash Credit: Unsplash

There are a variety of reasons in which obtaining a passport for a child can be complicated. When one parent is absent, it can be confusing as to where to turn. Do you need their permission? Are you able to get a passport if they are unreachable? These are all topics we will unpack below, so that you know what to do before the process begins.

How to get a passport when one or both legal guardians cannot apply in-person?

If you are trying to get a passport for a child when one parent is absent, you must get permission by completing Form DS-3053, which is a statement of consent. This allows the legal parent/legal guardian that cannot apply with the child to provide their consent. It solidifies that the child can obtain a passport with the other parent.

  1. The first thing you will want to do is print the Statement of Consent form
  2. Have the absent parent fill it out with their consent
  3. Get the Statement of Consent form notarized
  4. Then, you will want to print the Passport Application forms
  5. You will need to provide all the documents that are listed on the forms
  6. You must fill out both forms and bring them with you when you make your passport appointment at your local office
  7. Double-check and make sure you have everything the forms are asking for before you go to your appointment

These steps above are a good solution if you have contact with the other parent. If not, you’ll want to continue reading for the other possible circumstances and solutions.

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How to get a passport if you were never married to the child’s mother or father?

There are three different ways for your child to get a passport if you were never married. 

  1. Complete a court order granting you sole legal custody of the child. Either a divorce decree or custody order will work.
  2. Complete a court order specifically permitting you to apply for your child’s passport. 
  3. Have a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate that lists you as the only parent. 

Any of these options will allow you to file for a child’s passport if you were never married to their other biological parent.

How to apply for a child’s passport if one parent is ‘unknown’?

If a parent is unknown when you are trying to apply for a child’s passport, you can give a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate that lists you as the only parent. This is definitely the easiest route because it is undeniable that you are the sole guardian of your child in these circumstances.

How to apply for a child’s passport if the parent cannot be located?

Suppose you are applying for a child’s passport, and the other parent cannot be located. In that case, the parent applying can complete a Statement of Exigent form. In this form, you must explain why you cannot have the other parent give their consent. For example, if you cannot find the other parent, or if you have another specific family circumstance that prohibits this process.

Completing this form does not necessarily mean that your child will get a passport, but the U.S. Department of State will consider your circumstances and decide. Double-check that you have filled out all of the fields and have all the documents that you need before you go to your passport appointment.

What to do if one parent has been deported and unreachable?

Since this circumstance is similar to having an absent parent, you will need to fill out the Statement of Consent or Statement of Exigent forms. Either one of the forms will work under the condition that one of the parents is unreachable or is deported. With the form, your application will be allowed, and you will have to return to the passport office again to file for a passport. 

What to do when one parent refuses to sign a passport application?

If one parent refuses to sign a passport application, you must take the other parent to court. A court can order the other parent to sign a passport application, which will protect you and your child legally. However, the other parent can offer reasons that the passport should not be obtained. If you go to court, ensure you have all your documents in order before, so you have all the information needed. The decision made in the court process will be final, but at least you’ll know the answer and how to proceed. Afterwards, you’ll either be able to file the application alone or will not be able to obtain a passport.

How to get regular passports for your children if a parent is deployed?

How to get a passport for a child when one parent is absent
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If a parent is deployed and you are trying to get regular passports, they can give permission by completing a Statement of Consent form. This would qualify as having contact with the parent. You must submit the form with the child’s passport application. You will also provide a marriage certificate and a passport application when you go to your passport appointment. We suggest gathering everything you need before you schedule your appointment, so you don’t miss something. 

How long does it take to get a passport for a minor?

A passport always takes some time to receive and it will take the same amount of time for children as it does for adults. The standard window is six to eight weeks with routine paperwork. If you want it faster than that, you can get it expedited, which will take three to five weeks.

Of course, the timing depends on if everything is correct on the forms when it is submitted. You will want to make sure you are not traveling too soon after your application date in case the passport gets denied at first or arrives late.

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What is required for a child’s passport application form?

This is a list of what you need for a child’s passport application form. If you do not have one of these items, you will not be able to file your child’s passport application. 

  • Fill out Form DS-11, which is the Application for a U.S. Passport
  • Provide and bring a photocopy of U.S. Citizenship Evidence
  • Show parental relationship
  • Present legal ID 
  • Show parental consent
  • Provide a photo  

We suggest gathering all the items before you make an apportionment at the passport office. If you forget one, you will not be able to submit the application as the government takes these documents very seriously.

How to get a court order for a child’s passport?

Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of State does not assist in getting a child’s passport. You must hire a lawyer, file a court claim, and get supporting documentation for a child’s passport application. It is also different in each state, so you will want to look up the requirements for a court order for a child’s passport in your state before proceeding.

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How to Take a Passport Photo at Home

Passport photo requirements
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  1. Stand in front of a white background (you can use a large sheet of white paper or poster board if you don’t have a white background anywhere in your home)
  2. Wear a plain t-shirt that is not white or a tank top
  3. Have a friend or family member take a close-up photo from the chest up
  4. You will have to make sure the photo meets all of the requirements as shown in the image above

If you want to double check that you’ve done it right, you can upload the photo to one of the following sites to ensure it fits the requirements.

You can always take your passport photo at a location that does them professionally. For example, you can make an appointment at FedEx or a pharmacy like CVS to take the photo for you. They usually send you several copies, which is helpful in case you lose your passport at some point or need an identification photo for something else.


Overall, there are plenty of ways to get a passport for a child when one parent is absent. We recognize that this can be overwhelming to take on as the sole legal guardian. As long as you follow the steps and ensure that you gather all the documents, the appointment will go smoothly. If you don’t have everything, we suggest waiting to make an appointment so you can make sure you will have all the forms needed and not rushing to get everything before the appointment date. 

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