Q: My 10-year-old granddaughter, a US citizen, came to Jamaica for the Easter holidays. She has a plane ticket to return to the United States on Saturday. I noticed yesterday that her passport was expired.
She was allowed to enter Jamaica on the expired passport, so will she be able to use that passport to return to the United States? If not, how do I get a travel letter for her from the US Embassy?
A: All US citizens are required by law to enter and exit the United States using a valid US passport. “Travel letters” do not exist for US citizens, so it is important for all US citizens to carefully check the validity of their passports before travelling.
Even if your granddaughter was able to enter Jamaica with an expired passport, airline officials will not allow her to board a flight back to the United States without a valid US passport. She can apply for a new US passport through the US Embassy in Kingston or through the Consular Agency in Montego Bay, depending on her location in Jamaica. Only individuals residing in St James, Hanover, Westmoreland or Trelawny may submit applications in Montego Bay.
Applications are accepted by appointment only. You should schedule an appointment online by following the instructions available at
http://kingston.usembassy.gov/appointm ents.html. After the appointment date, passport processing in Kingston typically takes eight to ten days, and processing in Montego Bay takes three to four weeks, if all required documentation has been presented.
Because your granddaughter is less than 16 years old, all parents listed on her long-form birth certificate must give permission for her to obtain a new US passport. If her parents are in the United States, they must provide notarised DS-3053 consent forms, notarised copies of their driver’s licences or passports, and notarised letters authorising you by name as the person who may assist your granddaughter in obtaining her passport. If her parents are in Jamaica, they must appear at the US Embassy or Consular Agency on the appointment date.
On the day of your granddaughter’s appointment, you must bring the consent documents from her parents, your valid passport or driver’s licence, your granddaughter’s original longform birth certificate (with space for both parents’ names), and her old US passport. We suggest that you carefully look at the birth certificate to make sure it is in good condition; if the birth certificate is torn or very faded, you will need to obtain a new certificate. If your granddaughter’s appearance has changed significantly since the time of her last passport application, please also bring a series of photos that demonstrate how she has grown.
As you can see, there are many requirements that must be met in order for a child to receive a US passport. All parents and guardians of US citizen children are strongly encouraged to ensure that children always have unexpired US passports.
Passports can be renewed before their expiration date. When preparing for summer travel, be sure to renew passports early. Emergency appointments are not available to individuals who fail to plan ahead properly for their travel. Also, never take advice about US passports and “travel letters” from airlines, travel agents or relatives: the only official and reliable source of information about US passports in Jamaica is the US Embassy.
For more information, please visit our website, http://kingston.usembassy.gov and the Department of State’s travel website, http://travel.state.gov.
Reminder for US citizens
The 2012 election season is underway in the United States. To register to vote from abroad or to sign up to receive state-specific election alerts, visit http://fvap.gov You may drop off your voting materials with postage affixed at the US Embassy in Kingston or at the US Consular Agencies in Montego Bay and the Cayman Islands for delivery to the United States.
The US Embassy staff in Kingston will answer questions you may have regarding the US Mission, including consular law, regulations and/or practice. In order to respect privacy, staff will not answer questions about specific visa applications. The embassy employs a visa appointment system, so it is only necessary for visa applicants to arrive 15 minutes before their scheduled appointment.
Send your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send them to the embassy.