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Why is a Passport Signature So Important?
Once you’ve received your passport, travelers probably think they’re done with the application process. But, before they can use the document to traverse the globe, there’s one last step: signing the first page. Until you’ve signed the passport, the U.S. State Department will not consider it a valid document.
Though the U.S. State Department website doesn’t have specific requirements for signing a passport, the most common error is fairly simple. After the long application process, many passport bearers don’t sign the document at all.
Finding the right spot for your signature shouldn’t be a problem. On the page opposite your passport photo there should be an area designated for the signature. To validate your passport, simply sign the line that says, “Signature of bearer.”
But, even after starting that part, there are still a few key aspects to keep in mind:
When you sign your passport, be sure to use a non-ballpoint pen to keep it from smearing or damaging the document. To further avoid any damage, ensure the ink is dry before closing the book.
If you run into a problem when signing your passport, there’s always a solution. For example, if you run out of ink before signing and use a different pen, you can always draw a line through the original signature, and then rewrite your signature above it. This shouldn’t cause you any trouble when traveling to other countries.
You can also reapply for another passport, but you’ll have to pay the fee for the new one. If you misspell your name, you can always, draw a line through your signature, and write a new one above it. If you misspell your name, you can always draw a line through the signature and resign your name above.
When you receive your passport, be sure that you read over the information on page two. That page includes all your personal information, from full name to place and date of birth. If anything is incorrect, you shouldn’t sign it.
After finding any flaws, you can apply for a passport with the correct information via the State Department. You will also need to return the incorrect passport.
Signing a Child’s Passport
According to the State Department, a parent or legal guardian must sign for a child, if the child is too young to sign it himself. The signer must also be an individual with legal guardianship. One child may be able to sign a passport at age 6, while another child may not be able to sign his name until years later. As the guardian, you will need to decide.
As we’ve covered in the past, rules for a child’s passport are a bit different. Rather than having the child sign for it, the parent or guardian should print the child’s name on the line. You should then sign your own name next to the child’s printed name.
One important detail is your relationship to the child. The parent or guardian signing the passport should print their relationship next to the signature.
These may seem like obvious steps to some, but they can become simple mistakes that ruin a foreign trip. Make sure to take your time with signature to guarantee a valid document.
Do you have any other questions about passport rules? Do you need to get a travel document for an upcoming trip? Passport Health can help! Give us a call at or take a look at any of our other passport and visa services.
Written for Passport Health by Jerry Olsen. He has over 15 years of combined experience as a writer and editor in Salt Lake City. Jerry’s writing topics range from health care, travel, life science to medical technology and technical writing.