What Is an Adult Passport?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2019
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An adult passport is a passport issued to adults by the passport authority in a particular country. The term adult passport is used to distinguish this type of passport from a children's passport. It should be noted that the definition of adult used by a passport authority may be based on a chronological age limit that may be different than what is officially understood to be the age of majority in a particular jurisdiction. For example, United States citizens more than the age of 16 must apply for an adult passport, even though 16-year-olds are generally considered to be legal minors in other areas of law. The difference between passports for adults and children varies by jurisdiction, but may include a different application process, different costs, and different validity periods.


Typically, when an individual applies for an adult passport, she is expected to verify her identity and citizenship through the use of various documents, including birth certificates or government-issued identification cards. As many adults already have government-issued identification in the form of driver's licenses or government or military employment identification cards, the process for obtaining an adult passport may be considerably easier, as the applicant may be able to send copies of these documents through the mail as part of the application process. In the United States, however, children generally do not have this type of photo identification and so are required to appear in person at a passport application agency along with their parent or guardian to complete the application process.

Holders of adult passports may need to renew their passports only every decade or so, depending on the laws in their area. This is in contrast to a child's passport, which may have a much shorter renewal period. The cost of the adult passport may also be more than that charged for a child's passport. In the United States, children, including very young infants, may not travel under their parent's passport, but must have passports of their own. Adults who are citizens of the United States may obtain different types of passport documents, including the passport card, which is valid for reentry to the United States after land and sea travel to the Caribbean, Canada, and Mexico. The other alternative is the standard book-style passport, which can be used to reenter the United States after travel via any transportation medium and from any country.


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