How To Get a Passport for Kids


So last week, we finally went and got River’s birth certificate. It only took us five months. We’re expecting our parents of the year award to arrive any minute now…

We legitimately didn’t know we had to do anything and I guess just assumed the birth certificate fairy would take care of us. Well, she didn’t. Apparently, if you wait more than sixty days (at least in CA), you have to go down to the Clerk-Recorder Department and purchase one there ($28 in cash, check or money order). The only reason we even started looking into it is because I had read that airlines require birth certificates for all children traveling without a boarding pass, i.e. sitting on your lap. Being the super responsible parent that I am, I went scrounging for River’s birth certificate the day before our flight to South Dakota and realized we didn’t have one. Luckily, United was cool and didn’t ask any questions. I brought some discharge paperwork from the hospital that could confirm Riv was actually our child, but didn’t even need to show that. We definitely lucked out, though, and now have a photo of Riv’s birth certificate on our phones for all future travel. Better safe than sorry!

While we were getting everything done at the Clerk-Recorder Department, we figured we’d head over to the courthouse to get Riv a passport while we were in the area. It seemed simple enough, but things escalated quickly. The passport services are in the same office as the marriage services, so the place gets packed. You log in on the computer when you arrive and wait until you’re called. It’s like the DMV but with a bunch of women in wedding dresses. One of the questions on the computer system asks how you intend to pay. The only options are cash, check, or money order. We had none of the above and quickly realized we were very ill-prepared. The woman at the desk told us we could go across the street to the 7-Eleven to get a money order, but failed to mention you need cash just to do that. So misleading. Our parking meter was about to expire and tummies were growling, so we left empty-handed.

Below is a list of all the things we learned you must bring (despite what their website says! Liars.) and some tips for the Orange County Courthouse so you can avoid the same confusion.


  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship (aka that brand spanking new birth certificate)
  • Social Security Number (I took a picture of Riv’s card and keep it as a locked photo on my phone)
  • Both parents must be present and show valid ID (this wasn’t stated anywhere online but they were adamant in-person)
  • Photos can be taken there for a fee* 
  • Passport application fees have to be paid by check or money order, while the processing and photos can be paid for in any form of payment, including card (so confusing!)

*Fees for Minor Applicants Under Age 16

  • Passport Application: $80
  • Processing: $25
  • Photos: $10

Orange County Clerk-Recorder Department

12 Civic Center Plaza, Santa Ana, CA 92701//Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., M-F

Old Orange County Courthouse

211 West Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana, CA 92701//Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., M-F

We left without getting anything done with the passport situation, but we sure learned a lot! I’m hoping that by sharing this information, it will prevent others from having to go back a second time like us. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Next thing on the to-do list: plan a trip and put that passport to use!



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