Many U.S. citizens and their families live and work in countries all around the world. Children born abroad to U.S. citizen parents may meet the requirements under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA). A CRBA is evidence of U.S. citizenship issued to a child of a U.S. citizen, who was born abroad. This article explains the CRBA in detail, including the eligibility requirements and application process. The article also answers some frequently asked questions about CRBA.
What is a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA)?
The Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) is a document proving your child’s U.S. citizenship or nationality. You can obtain the CRBA from a U.S. embassy or consulate in your child’s birth country. To do so, you should contact your closest U.S. consular office. After you complete the application, you must sign it in front of a consular officer or notary. You should note that a CRBA is not proof of identity. You cannot use it as a passport for your child. CRBAs are solely proof of their American citizenship.
What are the eligibility requirements for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA)?
In most cases, your child must be under 18 to receive their Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA). For this reason, the U.S. Department of State recommends that you apply for the CRBA as soon as possible after your child’s birth abroad. Consular officers will want to know whether you and your co-parent are U.S. citizens (or U.S. nationals), are married, and have a genetic or gestational relationship with the child. Your child may receive a CRBA even if only one of their biological parents is a U.S. citizen and unmarried. Read on for more information about eligibility requirements.
If the Child’s Parents Are Married and U.S. Citizens
The child will be eligible for a CRBA if:
- Their married, U.S. citizen parents had the child abroad.
- One of the parents is biologically related to the child. Alternatively, one of the parents has lived in the United States or its territories before the child’s birth.
If one parent is a U.S. citizen and the other parent is a U.S. national, the U.S. citizen must have been physically present in the United States for at least one year before the birth of their child. Unlike U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals are those born in the United States’ outlying possessions, including American Samoa and Swains Island. U.S. nationals are not allowed to vote in federal elections or hold federal office.
If the Child’s Parents Are Married and Only One is a U.S. Citizen
In this case, the child may be eligible for a CRBA if the following are true:
- The child was born abroad to a U.S. citizen married to a non-U.S. citizen. Alternatively, the child was born abroad through in vitro fertilization (IVF) or surrogacy and is under the parental legal responsibility of a U.S. citizen and non-U.S. citizen.
- The child’s date of birth is on or after November 14, 1986.
- Before the child’s birth, the U.S. citizen parent must have been physically present in the United States for at least five years. At least two of these required years of physical presence in the United States must have occurred after the parent’s fourteenth birthday. Under certain conditions, time spent abroad, such as travel with the U.S. Armed Forces or the U.S. government, will not count against the five years.
If the Child’s Male Parent is Unmarried and a U.S. Citizen
Unmarried male U.S. citizens can transmit citizenship to their children if they satisfy the following requirements:
- They submit a written statement committing to support the child financially until their eighteenth birthday.
- They prove that they were a U.S. citizen during their child’s birth.
- They provide evidence of their blood relation to the child.
In this case, the male parent must have been physically present in the United States for at least five years for the child to be eligible for citizenship transmission. At least two of the five years for the physical presence requirement must have occurred after the father’s fourteenth birthday.
If the Child’s Female Parent is Unmarried and a U.S. Citizen
In this case, your child’s eligibility will depend on their date of birth due to recent changes in the law. If the mother was physically present in the United States for one year before the birth of their child and the mother gave birth to the child before June 12, 2017, then the embassy can issue a CRBA. If the mother was physically present in the United States for five years and had the child after June 11, 2017, then the embassy can also issue a CRBA in this case. At least two of the five years required of physical presence must have occurred after the mother’s fourteenth birthday.
Who can’t get a CRBA?
The State Department has a few exceptions as to who can and cannot apply for a CRBA. If you were born in any of the following current or former U.S. territories or possessions at the indicated times, you were not technically born abroad:
- Puerto Rico, after April 10, 1899
- American Samoa, after February 15, 1900
- U.S. Virgin Islands, after January 16, 1917
- Swains Island, after March 3, 1925
- The Philippines, before July 4, 1946
- Guam, after December 23, 1952
- The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, after 8:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on January 8, 1978
- The Panama Canal Zone, before October 1, 1979
How to apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA)
If your child is eligible for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA), you should search for their U.S. embassy or consulate’s webpage. Their website will provide in-depth instructions on the CRBA application process. Keep in mind that each consulate or embassy may have a slightly different approach, but they all require these general steps.
Step 1: Complete Form DS-2029
To obtain a CRBA for your child, you’ll need to file Form DS-2029 (the “Application for Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America”). This form collects the information that the State Department needs to determine whether your child met the requirements to acquire U.S. citizenship at birth and is eligible for a CRBA. You may need to complete additional paperwork beyond Form DS-2029, depending on the process specific to your child’s local U.S. embassy or consulate. Some consulates will also suggest that you apply for your child’s U.S. passport at the same time by completing Form DS-11 (the “Application for a U.S. Passport”).
Step 2: Gather the necessary documents
For the CRBA application process, you’ll need the original documents and one photocopy of the following:
- Your child’s birth certificate.
- Your marriage certificate, if applicable.
- Evidence of you and your co-parent’s U.S. citizenship. Evidence can include your U.S. passports, birth certificates, CRBAs, naturalization certificates, or other documents approved by your local U.S. consulate or embassy.
- Evidence that you and your co-parent were physically present in the United States before your child’s birth. Evidence can include proof of utility bills, employment records, rental payments, or documents showing that you were traveling with the U.S. government before their birth.
- Documents proving that any of your previous marriages have already ended. Evidence can include divorce records or death certificates.
- If you are not the child’s parent, you will also need an affidavit or official statement of legal guardianship that grants you the right to complete this application on the child’s behalf.
Step 3: Buy envelopes and stamps
Contact your local U.S. embassy or consulate to determine how consular officers will return your documents after reviewing them. The consulate or embassy may require that you submit your documents with a specific envelope, sticker, or stamp. You should place your stamps on the envelope of your application materials and write down the address where you’d prefer to receive your child’s CRBA.
Step 4: Prepare consular fees
At most embassies and consulates, you should be able to pay consular processing fees in person with a credit card or cash. Embassies in different countries may have higher or lower costs than others. You should double-check your embassy’s website to determine your exact fees for the CRBA application process. You may also face a delivery fee and separate passport fees if you have simultaneously applied for your child’s U.S. passport.
Step 5: Make a consular appointment
As soon as you have all necessary application materials and your payment ready, you may schedule an appointment at the appropriate U.S. embassy or consulate. Most embassy websites allow you to schedule appointments online. Be sure to show up to your appointment on time and give yourself enough time to find the office.
If you have any questions about the application process before your appointment, you should check in with the specific consulate or embassy. If you have further questions, you may want to call or contact the consular office beforehand.
Frequently asked questions
You may have further questions about the Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA), especially if you and your child have unique circumstances. Read on for more information on the process of amending or replacing the CRBA and how you can have another individual request your child’s CRBA records on your behalf.
Can you amend a CRBA?
Yes, it is possible to replace or amend an existing CRBA. If your child would like to request a change later in life, they’ll need to be over 18. If they are not yet 18, you (the parent), an authorized individual, or an authorized government agency can replace or change your child’s CRBA.
To request a change, you must write a notarized letter including the following information:
- Your full name and any of your aliases.
- The names of the parents or legal guardians.
- The parents’ dates of birth.
- The changes you propose to make.
- Your passport details.
- The CRBA serial number.
- Your contact information (phone number and email address).
- Your signature.
You should gather original copies of documents that may help justify your proposal. If you request a change of the CRBA holder’s name, you should provide evidence of a court order authorizing the name change. You must also submit any of the holder’s existing CRBAs and other birth-related documents issued by the State Department. If you cannot provide a specific document, provide a notarized affidavit explaining why you cannot provide it.
You’ll also need photo identification (photo ID), such as your driver’s license or passport. You will also have to prepare a $50 check or money order made out to “U.S. Department of State.” Finally, you may send all of your materials to the address below:
U.S. Department of State
Passport Vital Records Section
44132 Mercure Cir.
PO Box 1213
Sterling, VA 20166-1213
If you would like to replace a CRBA, you’ll be going through a similar process. For replacement, you won’t need to include the original copy of the CRBA in your application. You also won’t need to explain any of your proposed amendments.
Can someone else request your CRBA records on your behalf?
Yes, you may have a family member or a friend of at least five years request CRBA records on your behalf. You’ll have to write a statement authorizing this individual to request your child’s CRBA records. You will also need copies of two secondary identification documents (IDs), like your birth certificate, Social Security card, credit card, health insurance card, state ID, or college ID. The individual requesting your child’s CRBA records will also need to write a notarized statement and bring a form of primary identification, which may include their driver’s license, passport, or military ID.
Children are only eligible for Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA) before their eighteenth birthday passes. If your child is over the age of 18 and looking to obtain U.S. citizenship, they’ll need to review U.S. citizenship transmission requirements to ensure they have a claim to citizenship. Applying for U.S. citizenship can be complicated, but working with a good immigration attorney can make it easier. If your family can't afford the attorney fees and doesn’t want to handle a citizenship case alone, we may be able to help. If you are eligible, our free web app will walk you through the process and help you prepare and file your application with the U.S. government. Click "Get Started" to see how we can help make your American dream come true!