Not every family fits the traditional mold of mom plus dad plus kids, all living together in one house. Since the US State Department has strict requirements for minor passports, you may have wondered how you can show parental consent if you have an unusual family situation. No need to worry! For every type of family, there is a solution to help you get a US passport for your child. In this article, we’ll look at a number of scenarios and show you how you can satisfy the government requirements to get a passport for your kid.
The Basic Requirements for Parental Consent
For many families, showing parental consent for the issuance of a minor passport to a child under age 16 is relatively simple. The easiest way to show parental consent is to have both parents go with the child to the Passport Acceptance Facility. If it isn’t convenient to have both parents go at the same time, one parent will need to go in person, and the other parent can sign the official consent form DS-3503 and have it notarized.
Unmarried or Divorced Parents
Under State Department rules, it doesn’t matter whether a child’s parents are married or not. Both parents who are listed on the birth certificate will need to demonstrate consent for the child’s passport. Even if one parent holds sole custody, the other parent still has legal rights and needs to give their consent. Why? These stringent rules are in place to prevent international child abduction, and sadly, there have been cases of parents abducting their own children and taking them overseas to get them away from the other parent.
Only One Parent Listed on the Birth Certificate
If a child does not legally have a father – meaning that only the mother is listed on the birth certificate, and the biological father did not file suit to claim his paternal rights – then the mother can take her child to a Passport Acceptance Facility on her own. Only the mother’s consent is required in this case.
Children who have lost one of their parents are in a similar situation. The surviving parent is the only one who needs to show parental consent. The parent will need to take the child to the Passport Acceptance Facility in person, and will need to bring an original or certified copy of the deceased parent’s death certificate to demonstrate why the child has only one parent.
Children with Legal Guardians
Children who have legal guardians – whether because they have been orphaned or because their parents permanently lost their parental rights – will need their legal guardian(s) to provide consent. If they only have one legal guardian, the guardian will need to go in person with the child to the Passport Acceptance Agent. Children with more than one legal guardian will need all of their guardians to either go to the Acceptance Facility with them, or to sign and notarize Form DS-3053. The guardians will also need to submit certified copies of the court documents that granted them custody. If the child is an orphan, a certified copy of the parents’ death certificates should also be submitted.
One Parent Living Outside the United States
If one parent is not able to go to the Passport Acceptance Agent because they are currently overseas, they will still need to complete Form DS-3053 and have it notarized. Parents who are serving with the US military overseas can have the form notarized by a military notary. Civilians living overseas would need to go to the nearest US Consulate or Embassy to have Form DS-3053 notarized. Once the form is signed and notarized, that original form needs to be sent to the other parent in the United States so that it can be submitted along with the passport application.
Adopted children also need to have the consent of their legal parents. Frequently, adopted children are issued amended birth certificates that list their adoptive parents as mother and father. Children with this type of birth certificate need to have this amended birth certificate submitted with their passport application, and the adoptive parents need to demonstrate consent just the same way that biological parents would.
If an adopted child’s birth certificate lists biological parents who have surrendered their parental rights, this birth certificate still needs to be submitted to demonstrate the child’s citizenship by birth in the United States. The adoptive parents will also need to submit original or certified copies of the court documents finalizing the adoption.
Same Sex Parents
The US State Department was actually ahead of the curve when it comes to accepting same sex couples. Several years before gay marriage was legalized across the United States by the Supreme Court, the State Department redesigned passport application Form DS-11 to change the words “Mother” and “Father” to “Parent 1” and “Parent 2.” It doesn’t matter to the State Department whether a child has a mother and a father, two mothers, or two fathers – all that matters is that all legal parents give their approval for a passport to be issued to the minor child.
The specific consent documents that are needed for children with same sex parents will vary according to who is listed on the birth certificate and whether or not either of the parents have formally adopted the child. Please feel free to contact us for advice on your particular situation.
Is your child’s other parent in prison? Even if a parent is behind bars, they are still required to give consent to the child’s passport application. Incarcerated parents should be able to have Form DS-3053 notarized by a notary at their correctional facility. This original, signed and notarized form can then be presented to the Passport Acceptance Agent.
Parents Who Cannot Be Contacted
Sometimes it simply isn’t possible to get consent from both parents. Perhaps the custodial parent does not have any contact with the other parent and has no way of establishing communication, or perhaps it is not safe for the parent and child to contact the other parent because they fled an abusive relationship and have a restraining order. It could be that the other parent is in a remote location overseas with no access to a US Consulate to have Form DS-3053 notarized. The other parent may be critically ill and physically or mentally incapable of providing consent. There could be an emergency scenario that doesn’t allow enough time to try to get consent from the other parent. In any situation like this, one parent or legal guardian still needs to accompany the child to the Passport Acceptance Facility, and they can complete and file Form DS-5525, the “Statement of Exigent/Special Family Circumstances.” This form allows the accompanying parent to explain why it was not possible to get consent from the other parent, and what efforts were made to establish contact and receive consent.
Need more help to figure out what is needed for your child’s passport application? Contact us for assistance!