Traveling with family, whether in other cities or abroad in other countries, is one of the most essential and invaluable things to create everlasting memories for you and your children.
Nevertheless, all good things have a price. A grueling preparation will need to be done, such as making sure all flight and hotel bookings are confirmed, packing the luggage with appropriate clothing and supplies, having all the necessary medication, or ensuring that every family member holds a valid passport. And undoubtedly, the bigger the family, the longer it takes.
In this blog post, you’ll find all the information on how to apply for a child’s passport and in which cases it is required. We’ll give you many tips and pieces of advice on how to take a perfect passport photo for autistic toddlers! You’ll be convinced that taking the passport photos with PhotoAiD is the best solution!
Do children require a passport?
Do you wonder if a child needs to get his own passport document? The answer is yes: it is mandatory for each citizen, regardless of age, to show a U.S. passport in order to travel by air abroad.
However, children coming from a closed-loop cruise will still be able to enter the country without a passport. Such a trip allows them to visit other neighboring countries such as Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, or the Caribbean Islands. In this instance, it’ll be enough to show proof of U.S citizenship, such as a birth certificate.
Yet, the best solution remains to get a passport for your next vacation abroad to avoid any potential issues. It’s a universal travel document that also provides proof of citizenship for travelers, as it includes an ID photo approved by the U.S government.
How to get a passport for children?
To obtain a U.S passport for children, it will be necessary to make an appointment with the closest post office. Both the child and the parents will need to be present physically alongside the required documents for the passport application. These include the ID photos, especially if it is about a first-time passport application.
The opening schedule of most U.S post offices is from Monday to Friday, but with chance, you’ll probably find a post office near you open on Saturdays. Because of the Covid-19 crisis, an appointment will have to be made online on the official website according to the available slots to avoid endless queues, but know that most of the time you’ll have to wait several days or even weeks in order to schedule an appointment due to the many demands.
However, you may want to check first if the post office is equipped for children with special needs like autistic children, as not all of them include such facilities and services. Therefore, we advise you to contact them by email or phone beforehand to explain the situation and see if they can take some extra measures to help make the appointment go as smoothly as possible.
Documents required during the appointment
The day has come to go to the post office for your appointment: gather all the required documents to avoid surprises! Remember: this is an in-person appointment, and both you and your child must be present!
Below is what you need to take with you for the appointment:
- a filled application form for your child’s passport application.
- birth certificate of your child and its photocopy (an original document is preferred, but they can accept a copy)
- a means of payment for the different passport fees (often by check or credit card)
- and finally, two ID identical passport photos in color and in agreement with all the official requirements imposed by the U.S. government. Autistic children can also take pictures directly at the post office, but we do not advise this as it can generate more stress for your child.
Parents may bring additional things and persons for children with special needs if they deem it prudent such as:
- other family members such as siblings and grandparents or friends, for instance, that may be there for emotional support for you and your child,
- a bag with all the medication and supplies that are vital for your child, which you usually bring during day trips,
- enough food and water for the whole day as it may take longer than expected, and you do not want to miss out on this type of thing,
- your child’s favorite toys to keep him busy and comfort him,
- and, of course, you’ll need to be armed with a lot of patience and perseverance for a potentially long wait that you’ll have to endure for your child’s passport application. After all, it’s an administrative procedure and people can lose their nerves.
During the appointment at the post office
The passport application will be carefully examined and reviewed by the post office staff to make sure that everything is in order. You’ll have to hand over your child’s birth certificate to the agent as well as its photocopy, which must be of high quality and easily readable. These documents will be forwarded afterward to the State Department for further examination under the rules and regulations. Unfortunately, this is where things get complicated and where many passport applications end up being rejected for several reasons.
The rules are particularly strict, especially regarding passport photos and their size and characteristics. In case of rejection, the agent will allow you to retake your child’s passport picture for the exorbitant price of $15, which may cause considerable stress for you and your autistic child.
And no need to waste time trying to persuade the post office to accept the application: it will cost you even more. The State Department will reject the passport application for the same reason given during the appointment, and you’ll have paid the high application fee of $145 (or more!) for nothing. This is a mistake that you must avoid at all costs.
As you may have understood, the applicant is the only one held responsible for a passport application refusal and any miscalculations made regarding the picture requirements and any related problems. Then, it’s recommended that you take passport photos of your child via a professional service such as a certified photographer or online passport photo generators. We will explain more about this topic later on in this article.
You’ll only be asked to sign the passport application document once all documents are verified and approved (ID photos, birth certificate, and a photocopy…). Most of the time, it should be the applicant’s signature, but in this situation of an autistic child, the parent may sign instead of the child. It’s the same for toddlers and babies, as they cannot put their own signatures yet. However, in some cases, autistic children over the age of 16 (sixteen) may still not be able to sign themselves. The parent must show a document or paper filled by the doctor, asserting that the parent will sign the passport application form instead.
Once everything is settled, you can pay the application and State Department fees via check or transfer. Your application will then be sent to the State Department, and your child’s passport will be delivered to your postal address within about 8 (eight) weeks. It will depend on the number of applications and the period of the year.
How to take pictures of autistic children for a passport
Did you know that you could take passport photos of your children with your smartphone at home? It’s the best stress-free solution to avoid looking for photo booths and supermarkets! This way, any child will feel more at ease and reassured during the photoshoot!
If you opt for this solution, we advise you to make the most of the daylight. You can ask your child to stand next to an exposed window to have enough luminosity in the picture. It’s advised that your child sit or stand with his back to a wall (white preferably). Then, take the photo six feet from your child’s face so that the entire face remains visible.
Please be careful not to use the zoom or flash as it may cause a “red-eye” effect on the photo. This undesirable effect can be a fair reason for a passport photo’s rejection!
If you choose to do this outside, take the picture on an overcast day to take advantage of the diffuse light and avoid any shadows.
Remember that only white backgrounds are accepted for your child’s passport photo. If you don’t have a white wall in your house, you can use our background remover option afterward to get the perfect background for your child’s passport photo. Don’t spend too much time on this! You just have to prepare a high-quality picture and upload it to our photo editor!
Also, make sure your children stand perfectly still in front of the camera and that their eyes are fixing the camera. Your child’s head must not be tilted on either side. We know that it can be challenging to get autistic children to do that, so you might want to use extra help from other family members or friends.
And of course, let’s not forget about our best ally: the tripod. It helps stabilize the camera to take a perfect picture at any moment! That way, you’ll be able to hold your child until the photo is taken. However, your child must be the only person visible in the final image.
Regarding the glasses, it’s recommended to remove them for the photo to avoid any glare and reflect in the lenses. Moreover, you’ll ensure that the face is not covered as the glasses’ frame can get quite large. In order to get your child’s eyes directed at the camera, you can ask the help of grandparents or use something shiny to attract his attention.
Getting the proper facial expression in the passport photo is also primordial to ensure the passport photo’s acceptance. Therefore, the mouth must be closed and the eyes wide open, looking at the camera. A neutral expression is mandatory, so your child cannot smile or make a funny face. This can be tricky for autistic children, and it might take some time before obtaining a perfect picture where your child has a neutral expression or light and natural smile.
Therefore, do not hesitate to take hundreds of photos until you get the perfect photo for your child’s passport, as it won’t cost you anything if you do it online at home.
PhotoAiD: the best way to take passport pictures of autistic babies and children
Then, you can visit our website PhotoAiD or download our app on Google Play Store or App Store for free. You’ll have the choice between taking a photo or uploading a picture from your gallery into our passport photo generator and editor.
Our AI system will examine your photo to transform it into the perfect passport photo for your child’s passport application or a baby’s passport. Afterward, we’ll take care of re-dimensioning and cropping your passport photo to the correct size to respect the State Department’s requirements.
We even have a background-removal option so that you can replace the background of your photo with a white background.
You’ll receive the digital version of the passport photos by email within minutes, so what are you waiting for?
Here are some advantages of using PhotoAiD:
- a fast and reliable professional service that allows you to save time and money!
- a digital version of your photos ready for print will be sent in a JPEG file directly to your email address rapidly and at a low price!
- or have your printed passport photos directly delivered to your mailbox for an unbeatable price! You won’t have to go to a printing store. Your passport photos will be ready to be given during your appointment at the post office.
- Acceptance is guaranteed for passport photos and many other official documents for countries from all across the world.
- If your image were to be rejected, we’d pay you back twice the amount you paid, so you’ll have nothing to lose and everything to gain!
Be ready for your next vacation!
The choices are endless for your future travel destination with your children: you can have fun at a theme park such as Disneyland, explore breathtaking national parks, organize family hikes, or relax and play on a sun-drenched beach.
A passport will be required if you decide to take your family on holiday abroad. Adventures are worth going to the post office for a passport application, even if it is for a child with special needs. Fun and relaxation await you and your family!
Passport for autistic child: FAQ
Is it possible to keep glasses on for the passport photo if my child is blind and wears sunglasses?
Unfortunately, glasses are not allowed on a passport picture, even if it is for a medical reason and has been ordered by your GP.
Are pets allowed at the post office for the passport application appointment?
Only service animals can accompany children with special needs, but other pets are forbidden to enter the post office. You can always ask, but it’s not the perfect environment for your family pet.
Is a headband acceptable on a passport photo if my child needs it to stabilize his head?
Even for this type of situation, the passport photo will be rejected. Your child needs to remove his headband for the photo. However, a person can hold your child from behind and we’ll be able to replace the background to ensure that the State Department accepts the photo.
Marie-Tess is currently in her third year of a BA specialized in Translation and International Communication at the University of ESTRI in her hometown Lyon in France. Passionate about marketing and foreign languages, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in Marketing and International Business in Lithuania and keep on discovering new countries and cultures. She is also a huge tennis fan, loves to go to the movies, and goes hiking every time she travels to connect with nature!