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Tips for getting a baby's passport

Since P and I like to travel, we were both intent on making sure Winter gets to join in on the fun early. We usually book our trips closer to the last minute end of things so I wanted to get her passport right away.  In the US, infants flying on your lap usually won't warrant any evidence of age. However, in other cases, especially traveling internationally, verifying your child's age will be required.  Here's a few tips I can give on making it stress-free as possible:

1. Fill out the passport online at travel.state.gov
Why have anyone question your handwriting? Fill out the DS-11 form online. You will however need access to a printer.
2. Follow ALL the directions
No lie, I felt like I was filling out a college application. There are tons of steps. Make sure you follow them and make sure you have all your required documents.
3. Get your baby's photo right
Yes you can use your own photos but make sure the quality is high-resolution photo-level and follows the requirements listed. Since your baby must have both eyes open and facing the the front, I suggest putting your baby on a white sheet/towel on a bed or in their car seat. We put Winter on the bed and took the photos below using an iphone. Unfortunately I don't have a photo printer (and CVS photo center was broken) so my photos didn't pass the quality test - the print was a bit pixelated. Thank goodness I had a backup plan and got real photos done right before our appointment which got approved. (for those in NYC, an inexpensive passport photo place is at a bodega newstand on the corner of Houston and Varick across from SOBs and the regional passport facility. It's $10, the guys know the requirements and have done probably thousands of these, and you'll get your photo in minutes)

Left: incorrect. Right correct.

4. Give yourself time - if you want.
If you're not in a rush - you can have your baby's passport mailed to you following your appointment in a few weeks time, If you live near a regional passport facility - you can actually get your passport on the SAME day as your appointment. You need to be traveling within 14 days and have proof of that travel (airplane/cruise tickets, hotel reservations, etc). You have to call and use an automated voice system to schedule your appointment. I'm personally afraid of the risk of the passport getting "lost in the mail" (according to a friend of mine, it still happens apparently) so I always opt to get a passport done this way. Unfortunately no appointments were available before our trip so I chose the option to speak to live person who was able to squeeze us in a day before our departure.  Note that both parents must be present for the appointment. If not, a notorized consent form (available online) is required.

Even though you can leave and come back to pick up the passport, leave your entire day open (just in case!). We had to wait almost 4 hours for Winter's passport. It was BORING - bring ipad/laptop/cellphone charger/books/magazines to keep yourself occupied in case you decide to stick it out.  As you can see, Winter did what she does best.

Good luck and happy traveling!