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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!


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.


Wednesday 6th of July 2022

Hi, I was an Indian citizen who became naturalized American citizen in 2018. I have been staying in USA since 2000 traveling for few months every 2-3 years to India to visit my family over there. I married and applied for my wife’s green card and she got it in 2019. She is going to apply for her citizenship this year. My wife has been staying in USA since 2007 and has traveled multiple times to India to visit her family over there. There is possibility we relocate to India after few years from now. If our child is born in India will we be eligible to apply for us citizenship for child? I am unsure if both of us will qualify for physical presence test as those 5 years do they have to be just before child is born? Please clarify Thanks, S


Saturday 9th of July 2022

@Anna Karsten, thanks for reply. Do five years residence in USA need to be in status of us citizen? As per this:

“A parent’s physical presence is calculated in the aggregate and includes time accrued in the United States during periods when the parent was not a U.S. citizen.”

So looks like it’s not required for me to be there for five years in USA since becoming American citizen my time as green card holder also counts? Please confirm Thanks, S

Anna Karsten

Friday 8th of July 2022

Your wife is not a citizen yet, so the baby would need to apply for citizenship through you and you only. If you traveled out of the US for months at a time it's not a problem, as long as you have something to prove your status: work contract in the US, tax returns in the US, rental agreements, anything that would be a proof that you lived in the US basically. They just don't want people who are anchor babies to get citizenship for their kids.


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.

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