Travelling with a child can be difficult. Plans may have to be arranged around the child’s schedule and, of course, your luggage may be stuffed with kid-friendly items. Taking a trip outside the United States requires even more planning, especially if the child needs a passport. Divorced parents may find it difficult to get passports for their children due to the Two-Parent Consent Law.
The Two-Parent Consent Law
This law, found in 22 U.S.C. 213n and 22 C.F.R. 51.28, applies to a parent seeking a passport for minors who are age 16 or younger. Under the Two-Parent Consent Law, both parents or guardians must apply for the passport and provide evidence of parentage or legal guardianship.
If only one parent applies, that parent must provide at least one legal document showing the parent has sole custody of the child such as:
- A birth certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States, or Certification of Report of Birth giving the name of only the parent applying for the passport.
- A death certificate for the non-applying parent.
- An adoption decree naming only one parent for the child.
- An order granting sole custody to the applying parent.
- An order terminating legal custody of the other parent.
When parents are granted joint custody, both parents generally must apply for the passport. For humanitarian or emergency reasons, sometimes the circumstances need a different approach.
Exceptions to the Two Parent Consent Rule
When a parent cannot supply the documentation listed above, a passport may still be issued if the parent can submit:
- A court order that allows the parent to travel with the child;
- A written statement or notarized written consent from the other parent stating that the other parent cannot give consent for the child’s passport.
The applying parent also may submit a statement explaining any exigent or special circumstances that would allow a passport to be issued with the consent of only one parent.