If you are a U.S. citizen whose child was born outside the United States, you may want to apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA). A CRBA is a document that proves your child’s citizenship or nationality, and it may be obtained at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country where the child was born. To apply for such a document, you should contact the closest consular office. You will then need to sign the completed application in front of a consular officer or notary.
It’s important to note that CRBAs may not be used to substantiate your identity, as with a passport. Rather, they are to be used solely as proof of U.S. citizenship or nationality.
The following guide will cover the basics of obtaining a CRBA, while addressing some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) that arise during (and after) the application process:
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There are a variety of factors that go into determining whether a parent is eligible for receiving a CRBA. For starters, in most cases, the child must be under the age of 18 when the application is submitted, so it is highly recommended that the parent or parents submit the appropriate paperwork as soon as possible following the birth of the child. The consular officer may also want to know whether the parent or parents are citizens (or nationals), whether they are married, and whether they have a genetic or gestational relationship to the child. It’s possible to obtain a CRBA even if only one biological parent is a U.S. citizen (or national) and unmarried, but different stipulations may apply depending on the situation.
The rest of this section will cover the specific criteria that pertain to each particular circumstance.
IF THE PARENTS ARE MARRIED AND U.S. CITIZENS
The child may be deemed a U.S. citizen at birth, and a CRBA may be issued if:
- Two married, U.S.-citizen parents give birth abroad
- One of the parents is biologically related to the child or
- One of the parents lived in the United States (or one of its territories) prior to the child’s birth
Note: if one parent is a U.S. citizen and the other is a U.S. national, similar criteria apply. In this case, the U.S. citizen has to have been physically present in the United States for at least one year before the birth of the child.
IF THE PARENTS ARE MARRIED AND ONLY ONE IS A U.S. CITIZEN
The child may be deemed a U.S. citizen at birth, and a CRBA may be issued if:
- A U.S. citizen, married to a non-U.S. citizen, gives birth to a child outside the United States
- The child was born on or after November 14th, 1986
- The child was born abroad via in vitro fertilization or surrogacy
- Prior to the child’s birth, the U.S.-citizen parent was physically present in the United States for at least five years (two of which must have been after their 14th birthday);
Note: If, during the five-year period, the U.S.-citizen parent spent time abroad, they may still be able to meet the “physical presence” requirement under certain conditions. For instance, the parent may still be considered “physically present” in the United States, if they are traveling with the U.S. armed forces or the U.S. government.
IF THE MALE PARENT IS UNMARRIED AND A U.S. CITIZEN
An unmarried male, U.S.-citizen parent may transmit citizenship to their child, as long as the parent satisfies the requirements stated above. That is, the same criteria apply as long as the male parent can:
- Submit a written statement promising to support the child financially until their 18th birthday
- Show they were a U.S. citizen when the child was born
- Provide evidence of a blood relation to the child
As above, the male parent must have been physically present in the United States for five years, and at least two of those years must have been after their 14th birthday.
IF THE FEMALE PARENT IS UNMARRIED AND A U.S. CITIZEN
Due to relatively recent changes in the law, different criteria will hold true depending on when the child was born.
What if the child was born before June 12, 2017?
If the child was born outside the United States to an unmarried, female U.S.-citizen parent before June 12, 2017; and if the parent was physically present in the United States for one year prior to the child’s birth; then the embassy may issue a CRBA confirming the U.S. citizenship of the child.
What if the child was born after June 11, 2017?
In Sessions v. Morales-Santana, the Supreme Court decided to change the physical presence standard to match the standard as it applies to unmarried fathers. Thus, if an unmarried female, U.S.-citizen parent has a child outside the United States after June 11, 2017; and if the parent was physically present in the United States for five years (with at least two of those years being after their 14th birthday); then the child may be considered a U.S. citizen at birth and may therefore receive a CRBA.
Once you have determined that you are eligible to apply for a CRBA, you should visit the website of the nearest embassy or consulate. They will give you detailed instructions for completing the application. Different consulates might have slightly different processes, but in general, the application should be more or less the same wherever you are. The following is a step-by-step guide to applying for a CRBA.
1. Complete form DS-2029
This form will contain most of the information you’ll need to complete the application process, including a list of all the materials you’ll need to gather. It’s possible that, in addition to filling out DS-2029, you may need to complete other paperwork as well.
For instance, in Austria, the consulate may ask you to complete a Social Security affidavit saying your child has never received a Social Security Number. The consulate may also suggest that you complete an application (Form DS-11) for the child’s U.S. passport.
2. Obtain the necessary documents
To complete the application process, you will need to gather an original copy and one photocopy of the following materials:
- The birth certificate of the child
- The marriage certificate, if relevant
- Evidence of parents’ (or parent’s) U.S. citizenship — this may be a U.S. passport, birth certificate, CRBA, naturalization certificate or other documents approved by the U.S. consul
- Evidence that, prior to the birth of the child, the parent or parents were physically present in the United States — this may include utility bills, proof of rental payments, employment records or any other official documents showing that you were in the United States (or traveling with the U.S. government) during the period in question
- Documents showing that any previous marriages have ended — this may include divorce papers or a death certificate
- An official statement of legal guardianship or an affidavit giving you permission to complete the application — this is only needed if you are not the child’s parent
3. Purchase envelopes and stamps
Each embassy may use a different method for returning the materials upon completion, so it’s important to contact the nearest consulate to determine how the documents will be returned. The consulate in Austria, for example, requires you to obtain an A5 envelope, an Einschreiben Sticker, and 5.05 Euros worth of stamps. You then need to place the stamps on the envelope and write the address where you’d like to receive the CRBA (and passport, if applicable). Again, the process of delivery will vary depending on the country.
4. Prepare payment
In most cases, you will be able to pay the consular fees in person, using either a credit card or cash. Whatever you do, be sure to check the embassy’s website to determine the amount owed. While the embassy in Austria charges $215 USD for a CRBA, the one in Chile charges $100 USD for the same document.
Note that there may also be a delivery fee, and if you apply for a passport, there will be a separate fee for that as well.
5. Make an appointment
Once you’ve gathered the appropriate materials and prepared for payment, you are ready to make an appointment at the nearest consulate. In most cases, you should be able to make an appointment on the embassy’s website. On the day of your appointment, be sure to give yourself ample time to find parking and to locate the office.
It’s important to stress that the application process might vary slightly depending on where the embassy is located. You will therefore want to make sure that you visit the consulate’s website, and if you have any further questions, call the consular office.
What information will be listed on the CRBA once I receive it?
The CRBA will contain the child’s name, gender, date of birth, and place of birth; the date of certification; and the name(s) and date(s) of birth of the parent(s) — in addition to the Consul’s signature and an official seal.
Can I change or replace a CRBA? If so, how?
According to the U.S. Department of State, the person listed on the CRBA, an authorized individual, an authorized government agency, or a parent may replace or amend an existing CRBA. If the person listed on the document is submitting the request, they must be over the age of 18.
To amend the document, you’ll need to write a notarized letter containing all the pertinent information, including:
- Your full name
- Names of your parents or guardians
- Dates of birth for both you and your parents
- Proposed changes
- Passport details
- CRBA serial number
- Contact information, including phone number and email
- The signature of the person requesting the amendment
You’ll also need to gather original copies of the official documents supporting the proposed amendment. For instance, if you’re changing your name, you’ll need the court order authorizing you to do so. It’s also required that you send any existing CRBAs and any other birth-related documents issued by the State Department. If this isn’t possible, you can submit a notarized affidavit explaining your situation.
Once these materials have been gathered, you’ll need photo identification (such as a driver’s license or passport) and a $50 check or money order made out to “U.S. Department of State.” You can then send everything to the following address:
U.S. Department of State
Passport Vital Records Section
44132 Mercure Cir.
PO Box 1213
Sterling, VA 20166-1213
The process for replacing a CRBA is essentially the same, except you won’t need to include the original document in your application, nor will you need to explain any proposed amendments.
Can I have someone else obtain CRBA records on my behalf?
Yes. A family member or a friend of at least five years may submit a request on your behalf. First, you’ll need to write a statement authorizing the person to request the documents. Then, you will need photocopies of two secondary IDs, which might include a Social Security card, a credit card, a health insurance card, a birth certificate, a college ID or some form of state identification.
The person submitting the request will also need to write a notarized statement and provide a valid form of primary identification — this might include a driver’s license, a military ID or a passport.
Are there any exceptions I should be aware of?
Yes. According to the State Department, anyone born as a U.S. national in one of the current or former U.S. territories (or outlying possessions) during a given time period may not apply for a CRBA. This is simply because the person is not considered to be “born abroad.” The locations and time periods are as follows:
- The Panama Canal Zone, prior to October 1st 1979
- Puerto Rico, following April 10th, 1899
- Guam, any time after December 23rd, 1952
- Swains Island, following March 3rd 1925
- The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, any time after 8:00pm Eastern Standard Time on January 8th, 1978
- The Philippines, prior to July 4th, 1946
- American Samoa, following February 15th, 1900
- U.S. Virgin Islands, after January 16th 1917