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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.

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.

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!


Saturday 25th of June 2022

Hello! Thanks for all the information. What is the process to apply for the emergency passport in Mexico? Did that happen in your regular appointment?

We had our baby in Tijuana and our appointment is next week. We work for a nonprofit in Tijuana and we both need to cross into the US a week after our appointment. (So thankful we even got the appointment.. it was booked up!)

Anna Karsten

Saturday 25th of June 2022

Our second baby was born when covid restrictions were still in place so there wasn't even possible to get a regular appointment. But, you can always ask for an emergency passport at your appointment. It's valid for up to a year and you need to send it from within the US to replace it (during this time while it's being processed you obviously cannot leave because you need to send the old passport with your application, so you might want to do it later if you're going back to Tijuana).


Friday 24th of June 2022

Hello. I'm due in July with a baby. I have lived in the UK for the last 5 years, but 32 years previously in the US. I am planning on travelling back with the baby at Christmas so my family can meet our little one and my fiance. Her father is a British Citizen but we aren't married. Engaged but not married. Can our daughter visit the US on her fathers passport or will she need her own right away to enter? In the UK you can add your own child to your passport if they are under a certain age. What do I need to do to be able to have her recognised as a US citizen and be able to travel? Do you think it is obtainable for Christmas time (when we are planning to visit my family) with her being born in July?

Many thanks for your help

Anna Karsten

Saturday 25th of June 2022

I don't know who told you that you can add a child to your passport but this information is incorrect (it used to be that way in the past but it has changed in the UK). Your baby will need his own child passport to travel abroad as a UK citizen and your partner cannot represent her. She also cannot travel to the US on a UK passport only if she has a right to a US citizenship because of you (which she does since you lived there for 32 years). You need to apply for CRBA immediately. Documents needed for CRBA are listed in this article, find out which consulate does CRBA in the UK and is the closest to you :) UK passports take forever now (I know some people wait over 12 weeks), but I suspect the summer rush to travel will die down so you should be fine by Christmas if you start applying for everything literally as soon as the baby is born.


Thursday 16th of June 2022

First, I would like to say thank you for providing this information. Hopefully you can shed some light on my situation.

I'm in South Korea married to a Korean woman and our daughter is 20 months old. All three of us are planning to visit the United States very soon. We have not visited the American embassy yet (yes, it's my fault and judging me is more than fair), but we have gotten all her travel documents on her korean side. We are able to get an ESTA visa for my daughter, which allows South Koreans to go to the United States as a tourist. We are unable to get up to the embassy before we plan to travel to Hawaii for an emergency passport. Will my daughter, as a Korean who has not been recognized in any way by the United States, be able to cross into the United States to meet her grandparents for the first time? Or, am I totally out of luck?

Whatever your reply is, I would just like to thank you for providing such sound and instructive advice.

Anna Karsten

Saturday 18th of June 2022

To answer your question legally: "If your child has a claim to U.S. citizenship (which your daughter does), s/he is required to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. S/he should not enter the United States on a foreign passport with a visa, or visa-free under the Visa Waiver Program (which is ESTA)". You'll receive the same information at any US consulate. This means legally she cannot enter the US on ESTA and you will run into issues. If somehow you slip through the cracks and manage to get her ESTA (which is unlikely), you might run into issues later when you try to claim her citizenship when she's already been in the US as a tourist. So that's the dangerous part.

Secondly, you cannot apply for her passport in the US because she doesn't possess a US birth certificate or citizenship yet. You need her American birth certificate first and it has to be done in the consulate at her country of birth so in South Korea. To claim her citizenship you need to apply for CRBA at the consulate - you cannot do it inside the US. So I'm afraid that's not good for you, but...

Basically, the only way for you is to travel to the embassy/consulate (whoever issues CRBAs in South Korea before your trip. The good news is that if you're planning on leaving soon you might be able to call the consulate and schedule an emergency appointment. When I did this we received an emergency passport in just a few hours and CRBA came by mail about 2 weeks later. We traveled to the US before the CRBA showed up because we had an emergency passport for the baby and we received instructions to send it and exchange it for a permanent one when we arrived in the US.


Tuesday 14th of June 2022

Hello I need to apply for crba I am married to my baby father but he won't be able to attend the appointment . I'm the us citizen and he's not can I go by myself

Anna Karsten

Thursday 16th of June 2022

You cannot I'm afraid. The rules say everyone must come to the appointment.


Thursday 26th of May 2022

Hello, my baby will be born in November. Since the baby daddy is in Mexico, on wait for his fiance visa, I would like to have my baby in Mexico. My question is once the CRBA is approved and issued a passport, how long do I have to get back to the US?

Anna Karsten

Thursday 26th of May 2022

There's no time frame. You don't need to come back for years if you don't want to :)

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