As a new mum, there are so many firsts to be experienced and celebrated with your child. And for those who are lucky (well, some may say unlucky given the hassles of traveling with a baby!) enough to travel out of Kenya with your little one, one of the most exciting firsts is getting your child’s Kenyan passport.
It immediately gets you thinking of Dr. Seuss’ Oh all the Places you’ll go! – starting with you but later on their own.
The process for applying for a Kenyan passport for a child has changed recently and here’s what you need to know:
Step 1: Gather Your Key Documents
1) Original birth certificate and photocopy
2) Three passport size photos (My tip: when going for photos, bring several tops in case changes are needed and don’t have your child wear white. It can take a long time with babies so budget an hour or so)
3) Consent letter for minors (My tip: get consent letters from both parents as they don’t specify this on the website but it may be asked for)
4) Parents National ID cards and copy.
5) Recommender’s ID Card copy (This has to be a church leader, lawyer and check at the link below to see who else may qualify)
6) An eCitizen pre-filled passport application form and three receipts. (You’ll get this only after doing the next step)
Be sure to check ecitizen.go.ke for any recent changes.
Step 2: Fill out Online Application at ecitizen.go.ke
The online process is mostly clear, very user friendly and I applaud the government for making this so much more efficient!
1) Create an online profile as yourself and not your child (My Tip: this is not clear at all on the website but minors cannot have their own profile, they are within yours)
2) Go to ‘make passport application’ and select ‘for children’ – read all instructions, fill it out and then be ready to pay online.
Step 3: Submit & Pay Online
This is absolutely critical – you must submit the application, pay online and print 3 application receipts. Once you’ve done that, you can head over to Nyayo House.
You’ll be turned away at the door (and told you live in the analogue age, which I found rather funny and ironic) that is only if you have not come with your 3 printed receipts.
Step 4: Go to Nyayo House – Tips on Navigating Nyayo House
Nyayo House still seems to have a bit of cloud hanging over it and for most citizens who have experienced long lines, befuddling processes and soul sucking hours on the hard benches, the very idea of going there can be anxiety provoking. Here are my tried and true tips:
1) You must go with your child but you do not need to go with your husband as long as you have a consent letter stating that he’s given permission for this passport application.
2) Important Tip: what they don’t tell you is that even though you toiled to take a photo of your child and bring 3 copies, this is not the photo that actually goes into the passport. So be sure to dress your child the way you prefer for the passport photo, which will be taken on site. (just in case your daughter is deep in the princess phase, etc)
3) Go as early as you can (doors open at 7/7:30am) and plan to be there for an hour but it can be much shorter
4) Best not to drive but if you do, plan on paying for city council parking on the street either or at the big open parking lot in between Grand Regency Hotel and Kenyatta Avenue
5) After the security screening at the gate, turn to your right and walk on the outside of the building to where the tents are. This next set of security officers will check your documents (Mummy Perk #1 for mums with kids they tend to just let you breeze past without close document check)
6) Once you’re inside, there’s another security line which moves rather fast as these officers are very informed about all documents and quickly scan and direct people to various counters/lines
7) Mummy perk #2, I was overjoyed to learn that there is a separate office and shortest line for processing passports for children. It’s literally the best thing ever! There’s a decent set of seats and they move very fast.
8) You’ll then be directed to the photo booth office that moves impressively fast. They have baby seats to prop up infants and the photographers are quite good with kids and getting a good shot.
9) Hurray you’re done with your submission! Here’s how to pick it up.
Step 5: Picking up your passport
You’ll walk away with a confirmation slip and told that it’ll be ready in about 2 weeks. And they do say that you can send someone else as long as they have written permission, their ID and the confirmation slip. It took quite a bit longer for me to get mine in hand so I would budget one month to be absolutely safe.
Step 6: Capture the Memory
Be sure to capture this first on camera! Maybe take a short video of your child opening their passport or a photo. I still have my first passport that my mum got when I was 4 years old and I love to look through it trying to see if I can remember things from that first aeroplane ride and impressions of foreign places.
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Isis Nyongo Madison is the MumsVillage C.E.O and one of Africa’s Top Women in Tech. @inyongo