When a child is born to a U.S. citizen abroad or in a U.S. military base, there are a few requirements that must be met for the child to get U.S. citizenship. Whether this birth overseas was planned or not, the child’s parents should contact the U.S. embassy or consulate to apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA).
Why? This is necessary to document that the child is a U.S. citizen. After you have submitted the application, the U.S. embassy or consulate will determine if the child should acquire U.S. citizenship at birth and a consular officer will be responsible of approving the CRBA application. Finally, the Department of State will issue a Form FS-240, on behalf the child.
What is the Consular Report of Birth Abroad?
The Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) means that you were born in another country or at a U.S. military base outside the United States. Your parents should have registered your birth with the local consulate or embassy. The CRBA, also called Form FS-240 also serves as proof of U.S. citizenship. It can be used to get a U.S. passport, register for school, and many other purposes.
When a child is born overseas, at the same time parents apply for the CRBA they may also choose to apply for a U.S. passport for the child. The passport is also an essential document that proves a person’s identity and citizenship. By law, U.S. citizens, including people with dual nationality, must have a valid U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States. Whether the person is born in Germany, Mexico, India or even is a "military brat" (born in a military base), a U.S. passport will be a necessary document to obtain.
It is really important that when a child, with rights to U.S. citizenship, is born abroad, the parents apply for the CRBA as soon as possible. This is not something to take lightly, as the U.S. embassy or consulate are expected to support its citizens when they find themselves in these situations.
If a CRBA application is not requested for a child who meets the requirements for acquiring U.S. citizenship after their birth this might cause serious issues for the child in the future. It might cause problems if the parents attempt to establish the child’s U.S. citizenship and all of the rights and benefits that go along with it.
If your parents forgot to register your birth overseas, you should contact either the hospital or facilities where you were born or the base operator or public affairs office at your parent’s military installation.
Steps to obtain a birth certificate if you were born overseas
If you are an American citizen that was born abroad, you might be wondering how to get your birth certificate. Many American citizens have been born in Germany, Poland, Mexico, and several other countries. So, how can you get a birth certificate replacement if you were born overseas?
It makes sense that the process of getting your birth certificate when born in another country is different. When you’re born in the U.S., your vital records office takes care of your birth certificate. What happens when you are born abroad? You certainly won’t have a standard U.S. birth certificate. You vital records will include one of several types of documents depending on how your birth was registered, if you were born to American citizens of if you were adopted.
- If you were born before 1990 and your parents registered your birth, you should have been issued an FS-545 Certification of Birth form, which is still valid today.
- If you were born before December 2010, your CRBA will be a form: FS-240 or DS-1350 Certification of Report of Birth.
- After 3 January 2011, the only form available is the FS-240, Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America (CRBA).
Documents needed to apply for a Birth Certificate of citizen born abroad
The Department of State maintains all registered records of births abroad. It is easy to request your replacement birth certificate online or through the mail. You will need the following information in order to get your certificate:
- Your full name at birth
- Any adoptive names
- Your date and place of birth
- Full names of parents or legal guardians
- A valid photo ID
- Your passport information, including passport date of issue, date of expiration, and passport number if available
- In case of adoption or guardianship, a copy of the court order granting guardianship
- The serial number of your Consular Report of Birth Abroad where available address and contact number.
However, you will need to sign this request with your vital records in front of a notary, which you will be able to find at your local bank and most post offices. In most cases, it will take about 4 to 8 weeks before you receive your U.S. birth certificate.