When a baby is born outside the U.S., but their parents are U.S. citizens, the parents must take the right steps to ensure that the child receives U.S. citizenship. In every case, the birth abroad must be reported, and the parents must apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) with the U.S. embassy or consulate.
The CRBA is used to document the child’s U.S. citizenship. When the parents have completed and submitted the application, it’s up to the U.S. embassy or consulate to verify that the child is legally a U.S. citizen. If a consular officer approves the CRBA application, then the Department of State will issue the child a CRBA, also known as Form FS-240.
What is a Consular Report of Birth Abroad?
A Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) is simply a document stating that you are a U.S. citizen who was born in another country or on a a foreign U.S. military base. If your parents reported your birth to the local consulate or embassy, then you should have received a CRBA, also called Form FS-240, that you can use to prove your U.S. citizenship. You can use your CRBA just like you would a birth certificate, to apply for a driver’s license or passport, enroll in school, etc.
Many parents also get a U.S. passport for their baby at the same time they apply for a CRBA. A passport is another vital document used to prove identity and citizenship, and all U.S. citizens must have one to travel outside the U.S. and back. This also applies to American citizens born outside the U.S., dual citizenship holders, and members of the military and their family members.
If you are a U.S. citizen and have a child outside the U.S., it’s important to register for their CRBA right away. If you do not take the proper steps to secure their U.S. citizenship, your child may not be able to prove that they are a U.S. citizen.
If you were born to U.S. citizens outside the country and your parents did not correctly register your birth, you can start by contacting the hospital or medical facility where you were born. Or, if you were born on a military base, you can contact the base operator or public affairs office.
How to get a birth certificate if you were born outside the U.S.
Children born in the U.S. are issued a birth certificate by the Vital Records Office. So, you may be wondering how birth records are recorded for citizens born outside the U.S. If you are an American citizen, but were born on foreign soil, you won’t have an actual birth certificate. Instead, you’ll have another official document that functions just like a birth certificate and contains much of the same information. Which document you have depends on when you were born and whether you were born to U.S. citizens or adopted. If you were born:
- Before 1990: you should have an FS-545 Certification of Birth form.
- Before December 2010: your CRBA will be a form: FS-240 or DS-1350 Certification of Report of Birth.
- After 3 January 2011: you will have an FS-240, Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America (CRBA).
However, there are some exceptions. Individuals born in some U.S. territories or other countries, during a specific time frame, may have received a U.S. birth certificate, instead of a CRBA. You can click here for a list of these possible exceptions. If you aren’t sure which one you received, you may want to check with your parents. If this is not an option, or they are not sure, you may want to apply for a copy of your birth certificate. If one exists, then the Vital Records office will send you a certified copy. However, if no U.S. birth certificate can be found, they will contact you and let you know. Unfortunately, the application fees are non-refundable, even if they cannot locate a birth record for you.
What documents do I need to apply for my birth records if I was born abroad?
Birth records for U.S. citizens born abroad are kept by the Department of State. If you need a replacement copy of your birth records, you can apply online or through the mail. However, you must have the following details to apply for a replacement CRBA:
- Your full name at birth
- Your current legal name
- Your date and place of birth
- The full, legal names of your parents or legal guardians
- A valid photo ID
- Your passport information (issue date, expiration date, and passport number)
- A copy of the court order if you were adopted or given a new legal guardian
- The serial number of your Consular Report of Birth Abroad
- Your current address and a number where you can be contacted
Your application to access your vital records must be notarized, as well. Most local banks and post offices have a notary you can use. Expect to get your birth records in the mail within 4-8 weeks.
You can also check out: How to Replace or Amend a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) – Travel.state.Gov