certificate of birth abroad

Certificate of Birth Abroad – What to Expect

For U.S. citizens, starting a family on U.S. soil is pretty straightforward. But what if you’re a citizen whose family has relocated overseas? What if you’re on vacation and you end up giving birth in a foreign country? Sometimes these life events are planned, but there are occasions where the newest family member is unexpectedly born outside of the U.S. without the diligent planning and preparations you already had lined up. Below we’ll go over details and information found on a certificate of birth abroad, and what you can expect when your bundle of joy makes their appearance on foreign soil!

Certificate of Birth Abroad – What to Expect

A certificate of birth abroad, or more commonly known as a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA), is the vital records document available to U.S. citizens born abroad. This vital record will look slightly different than a certified copy of your birth certificate if you or your loved one were born on American soil. One  parent must meet immigration and citizenship requirements in order to transfer their U.S. citizenship to their new baby. 

In order to be eligible for transmission of citizenship, the following criteria must be met:

  • One or both of the parents must have a minimum time spent living in the United States as a U.S. citizen. The average for each legal situation is 5 years, with 2 or more of these years spent in the U.S. after the age of 14
  • There must be a biological relationship between the person transmitting citizenship and the child
  • There must be a legal relationship between the person transmitting citizenship and the child
  • This document should be obtained before the child’s 18th birthday

The CRBA is the vital record you or your child will hold in place of an official U.S. birth certificate. This document will contain all relevant information pertaining to your child’s birth and is a valid form for proof of citizenship and identification. In order to obtain a certificate of birth abroad, you must contact the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country where the child’s birth took place. In some cases, the CRBA will list the parent’s U.S. city of residence in addition to the actual location of birth. 

To apply for a certificate of birth abroad:

  • Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate in the location of your child’s birth by visiting this website.
  • Fill out the necessary forms and provide your embassy or consulate with the required information to get your child’s birth recorded correctly. One necessary form is the DS-2029, the application used to register your child’s birth with the U.S. government.
  • If the requirements to transmit U.S. citizenship are met, your embassy or consulate will help direct you to any other procedures or documentation necessary to obtain your child’s CRBA. 

It is important to note that a CRBA acts in the same manner as a certified copy of a U.S. issued birth certificate. It will be your child’s first form of official identification, and cannot be used as a travel document or as a replacement for a passport.

In the event that you need to order certified copies of your consular record of birth abroad, you can visit VitalChek.com. To amend or update your CRBA, contact the U.S. Department of State. While each individual’s situation is different, speaking to the embassy or consulate in the location of your child’s birth is a great first step in registering your child as a U.S. citizen. 

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