Traveling out of the Country

Under federal law, in order to apply for and receive a passport, a child under age 16 must have the signature of both parents. This requirement will be excused if you can prove with a court order that you have sole custody of the child or the parental rights of the other parent have been terminated. Even if you do not have sole custody, you may still be able to obtain a passport for your child if you:

  • Obtain a written affidavit from the non-applying parent agreeing to the child getting a passport;
  • Obtain a court order authorizing the issuance of the passport;
  • Establish that “compelling humanitarian or emergency reasons relating to the welfare of the minor exist” such that a passport should be issued;
  • Establish “exigent circumstances,” which are generally emergency situations where the minor’s health, safety or welfare will be jeopardized if the minor does not obtain a passport, or the minor will be separated from the rest of the minor’s traveling party; or
  • Establish special family circumstances, which are generally situations where the minor’s family situation makes it very difficult for one or both of the parents to sign the passport application.

Legal Editors: Robert H. Moses, September 2015 (updated July 2020)

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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