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How to Register a Baby Born Abroad & Get Certificate of Birth Abroad

How to Register a Baby Born Abroad & Get Certificate of Birth Abroad

Lots of people think that a child must be born in the US to get an American citizen, but that’s not true. While anyone, regardless of nationality, can give birth in the US and the baby will be a US citizen due to jus soli – law of land, if you or your spouse is an American citizen and you live abroad you might not need to rush back to the US to give your baby a US citizenship.

Both of my kids were born outside of the US and both of them are American citizens at birth. We simply applied for CRBA – Consular Report of a Birth Abroad.

The Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) is a mechanism whereby a US citizen who has a child while living abroad may apply to have his or her child become a US citizen. Your child is not a US citizen before you apply for his/her CRBA. It’s advised to apply as soon as possible. Why?

By law, US citizens, including dual nationals, must use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States. For example, my kids obtained Polish and Mexican citizenship first which would mean they would need a visa to enter the US so without getting their CRBAs we wouldn’t have been able to bring them to the country.

Who Is Eligible for CRBA?

There are rules that might scare some people of and not everyone might be eligible, but I think it’s pretty straight forward and we’ve never had issues. I cannot say the same about my green card procedures and so far my naturalization has also taken forever and ever.

Not everyone is eligible for a CRBA, but it’s safe to say that if you’re a typical adult person who grew up in the US you should be fine.

For your child to benefit from US citizenship at the time of birth, US nationality law requires that certain conditions must be met.

If both mother and father are American, married or not, it’s easy. If, like in our case, one of you is an American citizen and another one is not, it’s pretty straightforward.

The general rule is that a parent giving the child US citizenship must have been physically present in the United States for at least 5 years, 2 years after the age of 14 at some time prior to the birth of the child.

If the father is a US citizen and mother is not and the child is born out of wedlock (parents aren’t married), then you might be asked for a statement or genetic testing to provide a blood relation to a child, but the Consulate will tell you whether you need it or not.

This is how your baby’s birth certificate will look like

Documents Needed for CRBA

You absolutely do NOT need a lawyer for this, unless your situation is somehow complicated. You can submit all the documents easily by yourself.

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This documentation includes, at the very minimum, the following:

  1. The child’s birth certificate (the original you obtain from a birth registry in the country of birth)
  2. Evidence of the parent(s)’ U.S. citizenship and identity
  3. Evidence of the U.S. citizen parent(s)’ physical presence or residence in the U.S. prior to the birth of the child
  4. Parent(s) marriage certificate, if applicable
  5. Evidence of the termination of any previous marriages of the parents
  6. If a person other than a parent of the child is applying for the CRBA, the person must present a certified copy of legal guardianship or a notarized affidavit from the parent(s) authorizing the person the make the application.
  7. One 2×2″ passport-style photo of the child
  8. Filing fee of $100 for the CRBA (and an additional $105 if a U.S. passport is desired).
  9. Form DS-2029

In regards to no.1 – US Embassy in the country of your child’s birth will list all the documents you need specifically. For example, in Mexico we needed a special document with a footprint we were given at the hospital (that’s not part of the birth certificate), while in Poland only the longer version of the birth certificate was accepted (I’ve actually met parents at the Consulate who didn’t read the info correctly and had to resubmit the application because of it).

In regards to no. 3 – it can be anything, from tax returns, proof of house ownership or rental, high school transcripts, college degree, work contract. Anything that situates you in the US for 5 years.

In regards to no. 7 – simply ask any photo studio to do it in a format like “for US visa”. They know the dimensions and everything.

How to Get a CRBA

You can apply for a CRBA by completing Form DS-2029. You need to schedule an appointment at the consulate or embassy, depending on the place. Keep in mind that in some places only specific spots issue CRBAs.

For example, my first son Dylan was born in Warsaw, Poland and we were able to get it all done in Warsaw at the Embassy.

My second son Holden was born in Cancun, Mexico and while there is a consulate in Cancun this particular spot doesn’t issue CRBAs so we had to take a road trip to Merida consulate.

These appointments do get booked up quickly. If you’re not in a rush to fly to the US that’s fine, but it does take time and you can only apply after the baby is born.

In Poland, we scheduled it for the same day we got out of the hospital and we received it relatively quickly – 2 weeks later, but it was really the only appointment available.

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In Mexico, the situation was a bit more complex due to the pandemic and the fact that appointments were not given. We had to email the consulate to request an emergency appointment due to the fact we wanted to return to the US and we got it, but the caveat of that was that they mailed us our CRBA so we didn’t have to drive all the way back, but could only issue us a same-day emergency passport valid for 1 year. Once we got back to the US we basically reapplied for the regular passport.

Both parents and a baby need to attend the interview at the consulate. Both times it was a very standard interview asking my husband (the citizen) about his presence in the US, our story, why was the baby born abroad and so on.

The interviewer will tell you then and there that you’re fine and CRBA will be mailed. The decision is made instantly.

How Long Does it Take to Get a CRBA?

While it says 4-8 weeks in normal circumstances, we always got it within a week. Not sure if it was our luck, but that was it.

Keep in mind that if you live far from the consulate they can simply mail you the documents but you need to provide a prepaid envelope for this. Otherwise, you can just pick it up in person.

Any questions? Ask in the comments below!


Friday 27th of January 2023

Hello Anna, this is probably a super basic question. But how do you get a prepaid envelope for the CRBA to be mailed? Do we need to go to the post office? How do we know how much postage to add?


Saturday 25th of March 2023

@Anna Karsten, Thank you. This question and answer was actually helpful

"how to submit" the information seems to be an elusive answer, and "how to get the appointment" seems to be a hassle too. So this helped. We appreciate it.

Anna Karsten

Tuesday 7th of February 2023

We always used DHL and Fedex, but some Consulates might want something else.


Tuesday 27th of December 2022

A couple of things I would like to mention. First, due to the 1971 SCOTUS Rogers v Bellei case, US citizens who acquire their citizenship at birth abroad are statutory and not 14th Amendment, 1st Clause citizens. According to the Bellei decision, which is still precedent, statutory citizenship is not Constitutionally entrenched and is not as protected or as secure as that of the citizenship given to US born or naturalized (in the US) citizens. Also due to the aforementioned SCOTUS case this statutory citizenship is not covered by the 1967 Afroyim SCOTUS decision that protects 14th Amendment, 1st Clause citizens from the involuntary revocation of their citizenship. This is something that is not mentioned to most people, including US citizen military members who have children abroad. Congress can and must fix this permanently and make all citizenships Constitutionally entrenched and equal. Secondly, a CRBA is evidence of US citizenship, but you do not have to apply for one to get your US citizenship, which in most cases is automatic at birth if all the statutory requirements are met. It is a great idea to have a CRBA to be able to get your passport, etc., but you do not forfeit your US citizenship, if you qualify, by not applying for a CRBA. I am just passing on information I have just recently uncovered but wish I had known decades ago when I had a child abroad. Had I known about the statutory vs 14th Amendment, 1st Clause citizenship I would have returned to the US to have my child to ensure my child had 14th Amendment, 1st Clause (Constitutionally entrenched) citizenship. Most military members and their spouses who have children abroad are not aware of this difference. The Bellei case had a huge impact on citizenship but is one of the least known and understood SCOTUS court cases. I just urge all people considering having children abroad to get a qualified lawyer and do the research. Plus, I am working to get Congress to rectify this injustice.


Wednesday 11th of January 2023

@Anna Karsten, People need to understand that Statutory citizenship is not the same as Constitutional , 14th Amendment , First Clause citizenship. It is not as protected nor is it as secure. It is basically a form of naturalization by statute at birth abroad and is given by Congressional grant under their Powers of Naturalization and this citizenship is not guaranteed by the Constitution like the citizenship of those simply born in the geographical U.S. as clearly stated in the SCOTUS Bellei decision of 1971. Everyone needs to read that entire case including the dissenting opinions. Remember what Congress gives, it can also take away. Statutory citizens are not protected by the 1967 SCOTUS decision because of the subsequent 1971 Bellei SCOTUS decision. Informing people about this is not fear mongering. It is simply informing those facing having children abroad that the citizenship is different and if they want their children to have 14th Amendment First Clause Constitutional Citizenship they can return to the US for the birth. I wish someone had told me that in 2000 so I could have done just that. Congress has the means to make all statutory citizenships be elevated to 14th Amendment, First Clause citizenship upon the citizens’ first Constitutionally recognized presence in the US and should take action to do that. Anything less is not fair or just. So yes, the US currently has a tiered citizenship system, and not all tiers are equal in all aspects.

Anna Karsten

Friday 30th of December 2022

The citizenship can be involuntarily revoked (that is correct) similar to those who were naturalized, but only when it's subject to fraud - in the case of CRBA it's usually based on the physical presence requirement (and as you might be aware happened in Mr. Hizam's case). If you're not lying about the physical presence then there's no reason to revoke it and it doesn't normally happen and it's basically fearmongering.

In regards to CRBA, sure you don't have to get it, but then how are you going to get the passport and actually travel to the US? You cannot. The same way you technically might not have to get a baby's birth certificate when the baby is born in the US, but it's madness and you'll run into issues later with everything. You basically need it to prove US citizenship.


Thursday 8th of December 2022



Thursday 15th of December 2022

@Anna Karsten, My child had Canadian passport and was fine entering the US. I contacted the Toronto embassy they said all I need is to just apply for his passport form DS-11 and I did. With just $35 I got him a US passport. I am glad I did not spend the money on CRBA.

Anna Karsten

Thursday 8th of December 2022

You can come back to the US, but your child can't because they need a document to enter the US so you would need to apply for a US visa or ESTA for your child, but that's not advisable. You cannot request CRBA in the US anyway, so you must wait for an appointment abroad.


Friday 18th of November 2022

Thank you for sharing!

How long did you stay in mexico before delivery and after delivery ? Isn’t there a travel restriction during 3rd trimester?

Did you rent or did you stay st the hotel?

Anna Karsten

Saturday 19th of November 2022

I wouldn't recommend staying at hotels with a newborn, it's just not practical. There are plenty of self-catered apartment rentals everywhere.

I stayed 4 weeks before delivery and 6 after (both by choice). Previous delivery I did a week before delivery and 2 weeks after. Most airlines advise not to fly after 36 weeks, but you can if you have a doctor's note. And frankly, I've never been asked for a doctor's note anyway.


Monday 25th of July 2022

Hello, Anna! It was quite useful article, thank you. I and my boyfriend was in Russia when our baby appeared. He is citizen, I’m not. We also tried to apply for CRBA in Tbilisi, Georgia. But our evidence considered insufficient, there was master’s degree transcript, w-2 salary form, automobile registration, car insurances, job offer and other staff. Everything but diploma was not counted. Was surprised by that, did long trip with little child by myself. They requested more papers and seems it gonna take forever for them to consider those papers. By the way, if someone is reading that they requested bank’s statement and passport stamps for evidence. It was not listed in the website so we did not prepare them at the interview. He was in US since 2013 and got citizenship at 2018. His master degree was since beginning of 2017 till mid 2020. As I know you have to be present in US for 3 years at least to get the citizenship. If master degree is accepted as evidence I don’t understand how officer did not count 5 years, but it’s another story. My visa is going to be expired soon, and we wanted to come to US because my boyfriend is working there and he wants to see our daughter so badly. Do you know is it possible to try to apply at another embassy in Riga or Tallinn, maybe it would take faster there? Or since we applied in Tbilisi we have to wait as long as it suppose to take? Is there any regulations for the application, how long they can delay our case? My comment turned out quite big :) Would be grateful for your respond.

Anna Karsten

Tuesday 26th of July 2022

Honestly, a part of me thinks they were more strict, because of the sanctions on Russia, but obviously, no one will officially say that.

You only need to be in the US 180 days out of the 3 years before naturalization so that's why the officer didn't automatically count it. However, a Master's degree as proof is listed but w-2 and car insurance or offers are not necessarily proof because you can have it and not be in the US. You should have brought rental agreements, tax returns with a US address, and passport stamps (passport stamps ARE listed as a proof on the official USCIS websites and always get checked if the case isn't clear - just went through it with my own citizenship actually). They can always ask for something else, especially since your boyfriend is a naturalized citizen. If he was in the US since 2013 then once you bring more evidence it shouldn't be an issue frankly. Try calling and asking if you can go elsewhere but your records will be somewhere already so bring everything you can think of as evidence.

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