Do I Need a Passport and Do My Kids Need Passports?

Warren Clarke

Whether you and your kids need passports will depend on your travel plans. According to the Department of Homeland Security, if you and your kids are citizens of the United States, you'll need to obtain a passport when traveling outside the country. A passport isn't necessary for travel within the United States, unless your state requires you to have a REAL ID and you don’t have one (link to REAL ID article).

Even though a passport is only necessary for international travel, this document has other benefits. The United States Citizenship website cites that a passport can be used for
  • valid photo identification when applying for a loan
  • any situation where it's necessary to prove you're a U.S citizen, such as when applying for a job traveling to certain countries without a visa
What You Need

The United States Postal Service (USPS) website reports that it's possible to submit your passport application at a local post office. You'll need to bring:
  • Passport photos, which can be taken at any number of locations
  • Application forms
  • Documentation that proves your identity, like a driver’s license or birth certificate
  • Documentation that proves you're a U.S. citizen, like a social security card
  • Any necessary fees
Passports for Kids

If you're applying for a passport for a child younger than 16, the application must be authorized by both parents or guardians. The easiest way to do this is to make sure both parents or guardians accompany the child when applying. You'll need to have proof of a parental relationship and evidence that confirms the child is a citizen (such as a birth certificate), as well as any necessary fees and a passport photo.

Cruise Ships and passports  

If you are traveling by cruise ship out of the United States, and traveling out of one U.S. port and cruising to another (such as sailing out of Miami and cruising to San Diego), everyone, regardless of age, does need a passport. If you don’t have one, you will not be allowed to board the ship.