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So, I have a timeshare in Cancun, and I want to take my two children, both underage minors. Obviously, they are going to need to have passports. Their mother and I are separated, but not yet divorced, and she's, well, special. I've offered to bring the ex along, but I suspect she will refuse.

The question is: Can I apply for a passport for the kids, without involving their mother? Obviously, I intend on telling the mom before we leave the country, but I'm considering just going ahead and applying for the passports before she can come up with some, ahem, justification for why I shouldn't be able to get them their passports. If nothing else, I'd like to be the one controlling the passports, because if anyone would flee the country with them, it would be her.

What does the law say about just one parent applying for the passports? And, if I do get them, can she then apply for her own set of passports for the kids?

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2 Answers

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There is an absolute requirement that either both parents are present when applying for the US passport or a Consent is given by one of the parent's:

Minors under age 16 cannot apply for a passport by themselves.

Both parents/guardians must appear in person with the minor and provide consent, authorizing passport issuance to the minor. If one parent/guardian is unable to appear in person, then the DS-11 application must be accompanied by a signed, notarized Form DS-3053: Statement of Consent from the non-applying parent/guardian.

If the minor only has one parent/guardian, evidence of sole authority to apply for the minor must be submitted with the application in the form of a:

  • U.S. or foreign birth certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or adoption decree, listing only the applying parent
  • Court order granting sole legal custody to the applying parent (unless child’s travel is restricted by that order)
  • Court order specifically permitting applying parent’s travel with the child
  • Judicial declaration of incompetence of the non-applying parent
  • Death certificate of the non-applying parent

Technically their mother can apply for the passport as well but she will need the exact same form and will likely be denied since the birth certificate needs to be presented as well.

In addition to this in order for you to leave country a letter of consent from the other parent is required by the airline in order to allow one of the parent's to leave the country with the minor children. This has been discussed here multiple times

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In order to avoid parental abduction, both parents must consent. From the Travel.state.gov website:

Minors under age 16 cannot apply for a passport by themselves.

Both parents/guardians must appear in person with the minor and provide consent, authorizing passport issuance to the minor. If one parent/guardian is unable to appear in person, then the DS-11 application must be accompanied by a signed, notarized Form DS-3053: Statement of Consent from the non-applying parent/guardian.

If the minor only has one parent/guardian, evidence of sole authority to apply for the minor must be submitted with the application in the form of a:

U.S. or foreign birth certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or adoption decree, listing only the applying parent Court order granting sole legal custody to the applying parent (unless child’s travel is restricted by that order) Court order specifically permitting applying parent’s travel with the child Judicial declaration of incompetence of the non-applying parent Death certificate of the non-applying parent

Anything other than an affadavit from the other parent that is less than 3 months old is simply insufficient.

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Sorry for answering my own question - but I found it more quickly than I thought. –  Affable Geek Feb 21 at 2:57
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