How to Apply for a Passport for an Adopted Child?

A mother in a brown shirt and her adopted child kissing, and a blue color U.S. passport to the right.

Adopting a child is a beautiful experience, but it can be a lengthy and bureaucratic process even under the best circumstances. Adoptive parents have to deal with extra paperwork regardless of adopting a child from their own or another country. 

One of the most crucial identification documents your adopted child will need is a passport. However, the passport application process is not complex, and the most important thing is to include all the required documents. To facilitate this process for you, in this article we gathered all the information you need to know when applying for a passport for your adopted child.  

Applying for an adopted child passport: where to go

Passport applications are processed at Passport Acceptance Facility. It is a government agency that accepts and processes passport applications on behalf of the U.S. Department of State. The Acceptance Facility verifies all information provided by the applicant. After that, the verified documents are sent to the Department of State, which issues the passport only if the applicant is eligible. 

Many post offices, court clerks, public libraries, and other state-/county-/township-and municipal government offices have been designated to accept passport applications. Check which is the nearest location where you can apply for a passport and start gathering the required documentation.

Passport for an adopted child: forms

The first form that the applicant needs to complete when applying for a passport for an adopted child is Form DS-11. You can download and fill out this form at your home; however, you must not put your signature on it because it must be signed at the Passport Acceptance Office.

Another form you might need to fill out is Form DS-3053. In case one of the adoptive parents cannot come personally to a Passport Acceptance Facility, they can give the parental consent by filling in this form. 

Obtaining a passport for the U.S. born adopted child 

To get a passport for a U.S.-born adopted child under the age of 16, the adopting parent(s) must provide 5 (five) documents:

  • proof of the adopted child’s U.S. citizenship; 
  • the relationship between you as a parent and the adopted child;
  • your official identification document; 
  • 1 (one) passport photo; and 
  • parental consent.

In addition, the passport fee needs to be paid for the application to be processed. If you want a passport book, the application fee will be $100 plus $35 for the execution fee. However, there is an option to take a passport card which will cost you $15 plus the execution fee of $35. 

There are minor differences when applying for the passport before or after the adoption is completed. In the following text, these two situations are going to be discussed. 

Applying for a passport before the adoption is finalized

If you’re in the course of the process of adoption and it hasn’t yet been finalized, you will be required to bring the following documents to the U.S. Passport office:

  • a copy of your child’s birth certificate that proves its U.S. citizenship;
  • an Adoption Petition filed with the adoption court, demonstrating that adoption is underway in a state court;
  • documents proving the baby’s adoption placement – the relinquishment document that legally places a child with you;
  • a passport photo of a child not older than 6 (six) months; 
  • your official identification document, such as a passport or driver’s license;
  • although not obligatory, we recommend enclosing an affidavit signed by the birth mother approving travel outside the United States and/or a document from the county or private adoption agency stating the same thing.

Even if a prospective adoptive parent encloses the documents mentioned above, each State Department official will determine if they are sufficient or not. Therefore, having a birth mother’s or adoption agency’s signed authorization is the best approach to ensure success. In other words, before the adoption is completed, the birth mother should sign an affidavit permitting the adoptive parents to obtain a passport and travel anywhere outside the U.S. 

If the infant you’re planning to adopt isn’t yet born, make sure that the birth mother signs the authorization letter as soon as she signs the adoption permission documents. Suppose it is too late, or you forgot to obtain this document from the birth mother. In that case, you can ask the county/private adoption agency in charge of post-placement supervision to provide the authorization letter. This means that the agency will notify the Passport Acceptance Facility and grant its permission to the adoptive parents to obtain a passport and travel with a child outside the states before the adoption is complete.

Despite the incomplete adoption, the State Department will, in this case, issue a passport under the child’s adoptive name. Nevertheless, obtaining the passport before the adoption is finalized does not guarantee that the agency or court will allow you to travel with the adopted child. It all depends on the state in which you reside, and to be on the safe side, it is always good to ask the agency or your adoption attorney whether you could travel with your child overseas or not. 

Applying for a passport after the adoption is finalized but before obtaining the Amend Birth Certificate (ABC)

If the adoption process has been finalized, the adoptive parent should provide the following documents to the U.S. Passport Acceptance Facility:

  • a certified copy of the adopted child’s birth certificate;
  • a signed and certified copy of the Adoption Decree; 
  • a signed copy of the Adoption Agreement (California State only). In all other states, the Adoption Decree that includes the child’s name before and after adoption will be sufficient; 
  • a passport photo of the child not older than 6 (six) months;
  • your official identification document.

The U.S.-born child with Amend Birth Certificate (ABC)

After the adoption is completed, an adopted child born in the U.S. will receive an Amend Birth Certificate (ABC). The certificate will list adoptive parents as the legal mother and father of a child. 

The easiest way to prove parenthood is with the ABC issued before a child’s first birthday. If the certificate is given later, it will be considered a “delayed birth certificate” and not be sufficient proof of U.S. citizenship. In this case, submit the original birth certificate, which includes the names of the child’s biological parents. As an alternative, you can submit the ABC with the original Adoption Decree, which includes the date of the adoption as well as the names of the biological parents.

Passport for an internationally adopted child

Applying for a passport to an internationally adopted child should not be complicated. A child adopted by U.S. citizens will automatically be granted U.S. citizenship. After obtaining citizenship, the application process for a passport can start.

An Adoption Decree will be essential to prove that you are a legal parent to your child. In addition, submit the child’s Certificate of Citizenship, issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You can obtain the certificate in 2 (two) ways depending on how your child entered the U.S.:

  • If the adoption process has been finalized outside the U.S., your child will receive an IR-3 or IH-3 visa. After returning to the U.S., the child gets a Certificate of Citizenship from USCIS without any additional paperwork.
  • If the adoption process has been finalized in the U.S., the child will get an IR-4 or IH-4 visa. Here, apply for the child’s Certificate of Citizenship by using Form N-600.

Create a child’s passport photo using an online tool

A valid passport photo is one requirement for the passport application. Thanks to our online photo tool, getting a passport picture has never been easier. You don’t need to spend hours looking for an adequate photo studio; instead, you can do it right from your home. PhotoAid’s intelligent AI technology will create the perfect passport photo for your child in less than 1 minute. 

Upload a picture directly from your smartphone or take it using the PhotoAiD app (available for both iOS and Android). Once your photo is uploaded, the AI will analyze it, crop it to the required size (2×2″), and remove the background. The human photo expert will then check the image to make sure it fulfills all the requirements. If the photo is approved, you can purchase a digital version of your photo immediately for $6.95 or order a physical copy for $9.95.

Passport for an adopted child: summary 

Obtaining a passport for your adopted child must not necessarily be complicated if you have all the required documents. It is essential to fill out Form DS-11 and submit it 

together with the proof of your child’s U.S. citizenship, a record that proves that you are a parent to a child, a copy of your official ID, and parental consent. You will also need a passport photo of your child no older than 6 (six) months. Lastly, keep in mind that there are slight differences when applying for a passport before and after the finalized adoption process.

FAQ – How to get a passport for an adopted child

Some of the most commonly asked questions with regards to a passport application process for an adopted child:

What documents do I need when applying for a passport for an adopted child?

When applying for a passport for an adopted child, you need to provide the following documents: 

  • the adopted child’s U.S. citizenship; 
  • the parent-child relationship proof;
  • your official identification document; 
  • 1 (one) passport photo of a child; and 
  • parental consent.

How to get a passport for an internationally adopted child?

Besides Adoption Decree, which is the main document used to prove your parenthood, you will have to submit a Certificate of Citizenship. If your child has IR-3 or IH-3 visa, he/she will receive citizenship from USCIS without a need for any additional documentation. In case your child has an IR-4 or IH-4 visa, you will need to apply for citizenship. 

How hard is it to get a passport for an adopted child?

The application process for a passport for an adopted child is not so difficult. You have to prepare the required documents, including the child’s U.S. citizenship proof, the relationship between you and your child, your official ID, and parental consent. However, you will also need a passport photo of your child no older than 6 (six) months, which you must submit along with other documents. 

How much does the passport for an adopted child cost?

If you decide to take a passport book, it will cost you $135, but there is also an option to take a passport card which costs $50. However, if you choose to get a passport card, your child will be allowed to travel only through sea and land borders.