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Consular Report of Birth Abroad for
United States Passport

Birth Abroad

As soon as Ben and Marci discovered they were expecting their first child, they began rearranging their lives for an extended stay in Costa Rica. They would move to Costa Rica two months before their due date, have the birth in that country, and remain there until the legal paperwork was completed that guaranteed their child Costa Rican citizenship.

Ben and Marci are not alone. This new trend in childbirth, where expectant parents strategically plan their child's birth in a country other than their home country, is gaining in popularity. The overriding reason is to set their child up with dual citizenship from birth, including a second passport. Several countries in North, Central, and South America offer jus soli, birthright by soil, which automatically grants citizenship to a baby born in that country. Advantages can include more affordable and often better health care, a college education that doesn't break the bank, greater travel freedom, and sometimes a lower tax liability, among others.

What is a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA)?

If your child is born abroad for whatever reason, it is crucial that you apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America (CRBA) from the American embassy or consulate in that country to establish your child's U.S. citizenship as soon as possible. According to the laws of the United States, a CRBA is proof of U.S. citizenship in the same way that a birth certificate in the United States is proof of U.S. citizenship.

If you're both U.S. citizens when your child is born abroad, and you're legally married, your baby acquires U.S. citizenship at birth. One of you must have lived in the U.S. prior to your child's birth, but there's no length of residency requirement. If one of you is a U.S. citizen, but the other parent is not, and you are married, your baby also acquires U.S. citizenship at birth, as long as the U.S. citizen parent lived in the U.S. for the required amount of time before the birth. Lastly, if you are an unmarried U.S. citizen father or mother, there are additional conditions to be met to obtain U.S. citizenship for your child.

What Is Required for a CRBA?

If you meet these requirements, you will want to go to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to report his or her birth and apply for a CRBA. You'll need Form DS-2029 to do this. (Wait to sign it in the presence of the consular officer.) Additionally, you will need your child's certified birth certificate from the country of birth abroad; evidence of both parent(s)' citizenship and identity such as a U.S. passport; evidence of living in the U.S. prior to your child's birth like utility bills, employment records, or bank information; your marriage certificate, if married; and evidence of the end to previous marriages by divorce decree or death certificate. Your supporting documents must be original and certified.

How Do I Obtain a Consular Report of Birth Abroad for My Child?

The CRBA can only be prepared through a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. The consular officer approves your application and forwards it on to the Department of State in the United States, who then issues you Form FS-240 (CRBA) in your child's name. According to U.S. law, the CRBA serves as your child's proof of U.S. citizenship. If you don't obtain the CRBA right away, you risk causing problems for yourselves, as parents, and for your child when you attempt to do it later.

By law, U.S. citizens and dual nationals have to use U.S. passports to enter or leave the United States, so you will need to use your child's U.S. passport to enter the U.S. It is recommended that you apply for his or her U.S. passport at the same time as the CRBA, a full-validity passport is also evidence of U.S. citizenship. Minor passports are valid for five years.

Can I Use My Child's CRBA to Obtain a U.S. Passport?

If you decide to obtain a U.S. passport for your child at the same time, you will need to submit additional information. Your CRBA will already establish your relationship to your child with his or her birth certificate, and your identity with your passports. Fill out your child's passport application Form DS-11; again, don't sign it until you are in the presence of a U.S. consular officer. Have a color photograph taken of your baby. Because the look of a baby can change so quickly, it is best to do this step within the last week before your passport appointment. Be sure it is a full face photo with a plain white background. Bring your baby, your identification, and all your documents to your child's CRBA/passport appointment.

The fees for a minor's passport are $80 for the application fee, plus a $25 execution fee. U.S. embassies and consulates accept payment in local currencies and advise you on the best method of payment. Although it is possible to get a CRBA later, it is a different and more complex process through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). CRBAs are issued to children who acquired U.S. citizenship by birth and are under 18 years of age. Although you will be initially issued one report, you can order multiple copies or amend your CRBA at any time. Children who acquired citizenship by being born in a U.S. territory will use their birth certificates as evidence of citizenship and do not need to apply for a CRBA.

How Can I Replace a Consular Report of Birth Abroad?

To Replace a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (FS-240), You Must Submit:

1. A notarized written (or typed) request that includes all of the following information:

  • Full name of the child at birth
  • Any adoptive names of child
  • Child's date and place of birth
  • Any available passport information
  • Full names of parents
  • If known, the serial number of the FS-240
  • Signature of requester
  • Legal Guardian(s) Only: A copy of the court order granting guardianship
  • Requester's mailing address
  • Contact number of the requested

2. A copy of requester's valid identification

NOTE: REQUESTS THAT ARE NOT NOTARIZED OR DO NOT INCLUDE A COPY OF REQUESTER'S VALID ID WILL BE DELAYED.

3. A $50.00 check or money order

Make payable to "Department of State". The Department will assume no responsibility for cash lost in the mail.

4. Mail to:

Department of State
Passport Vital Records Section
44132 Mercure Cir.
PO Box 1213
Sterling, VA 20166-1213

Overnight Delivery

Send your request to our office using overnight delivery for quicker service. To have your records returned to you using overnight delivery, include an additional $14.85 with your request. Consular Reports of Birth documents are printed and mailed off site; please do not include a pre-paid express mail envelope with your request as this will cause a delay with delivery.

If you've had a child while living abroad, what was your experience in obtaining a Consular Report of Birth Abroad? Share your best tip with us in the comments below!

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