The Passport Requirements for Children on Cruises

The Passport Requirements for Children on Cruises
One of the advantages of cruising is the opportunity to visit many different outdoor destinations in a single trip. With the growth of cruises specifically designed for families, it's important to know what travel documents are required. In June 2009, the rules changed for everyone, including children. The U.S. Department of State requires that any child under the age of 16, including newborns and infants, have a U.S. passport when traveling internationally.


Each child must have his own passport and apply in person. A social security number and evidence of citizenship are required to apply. Acceptable documents include a certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate, a naturalization certificate, citizenship certificate or a consular report of birth abroad.

Parental Consent

Both parents or legal guardians must appear in person when the child's passport application is filed. If the child is adopted, then an adoption decree is also required to prove the relationship. When both parents can't appear in person, file form DS-3053 with the passport application. Parents must present proof of their U.S. citizenship through a valid U.S. passport, driver's license, military ID, government employee ID or a naturalization certificate. The passport agent will need to see the original documents and keep a copy of each. Bring photocopies of each document.

Cruises to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean

U.S. citizens entering the U.S. at sea or land ports are required to present travel documents that comply with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. The documents may be a valid U.S. passport, a passport card, an expedited traveler card or an enhanced driver's license. Children under 16 may use an original or certified copy of a U.S. or Canadian birth certificate, a consular report of birth abroad or a naturalization certificate.

Special Documents for Groups of Children

Groups of children under the age of 19, such as those traveling with a sports team or school group, must present additional documents. Groups must present a letter with the name of the group and supervising adults. It must also include the name, address, phone number, birth date, birth place and the name of at least one parent or legal guardian for each child. Supervising adults must also carry a signed statement from the parent or legal guardian giving permission for the child to travel with the group.

Where to Apply

The U.S. State Department has regional offices where passport applications may be filed. Many post offices, public libraries or other state, country or municipal government offices may be able to accept passport applications on behalf of the U.S. State Department.


Closed-loop itineraries may require a passport, even if the trip starts and ends in the U.S. or Canada. Check with your cruise line for requirements unique to your itinerary.

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