If you are an American born abroad to U.S. citizen parents, you may think that obtaining a birth certificate will be a challenging, difficult task. However, if your parents applied for a “Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America” (CRBA) to document that you are a citizen, you won't encounter any difficulties.
If the U.S. embassy or consulate determines that the child acquired U.S. citizenship at birth, a consular officer approves the CRBA application, and the Department of State issues a CRBA, also called a Form FS-240, in the child’s name. If you got a CRBA but can't find the original, you can order a replacement copy for a modest fee.
Foreign Birth Certificate
Under U.S. law, children of American citizens are also citizens, no matter where they are born. If you were born in a foreign country, and at least one of your parents is a citizen, you are a U.S. citizen at birth. The U.S. State Department has a system in place for Americans abroad to record the birth of their children. The parents apply at the nearest consulate for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States. When the consulate reviews the birth and approves the application, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) is issued in the child's name. The CRBA includes the information typically found in a birth certificate, like parents' names and place and date of birth, and also establishes the child's status as a U.S. citizen.
Since 2011, all CRBAs are printed centrally in the United States, not printed at consulates and embassies abroad. This change was made to make the process more secure.
Foreign Birth Certificate Replacement
If your parents applied for a CRBA, they received one original document from the U.S. State Department. If your parents no longer have this document, or you can't locate it, you can apply for a replacement copy. You can request one or as many copies of this document as you need in one application. You have to submit a request and have your signature notarized. Include this information:
- Your full name at birth
- Your date and place of birth
- Any available passport information
- Full names of parents
- If known, the serial number of the FS-240
- Your mailing address
- Your phone number
You also need to include a copy of your valid photo identification, such as a driver’s license, military ID, passport or other government-issued photo ID. In late 2017, the fee is about $50.
How to Obtain a Foreign Birth Certificate
If your parents did not obtain a CRBA for you while you were a minor, you have missed the chance to apply for a CRBA. If you were born abroad to U.S. parents and are not over the age of 18, you can apply for a Certificate of Citizenship to document your citizenship. File Form 600, the Application for Certificate of Citizenship.
If you did not obtain citizenship at birth, but were naturalized after birth, you may need to get a copy of the birth certificate issued by local authorities in the foreign country of your birth. Ask at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your birth country to determine where official birth records are kept and how to apply for a birth certificate.
- Only the person named on the birth certificate, parents or legal guardian of the person named on the document may request a birth certificate.
- Additional copies of the DS-1350 are available for a fee of $20 each
- Turnaround time for the DS-1350 is typically four to eight weeks.
With a Master's in English, a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, and J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's law school, Teo Spengler is up on education. She splits her home time between San Francisco and France. A perpetual student and frequent teacher, she is also a writer and world traveler. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Arizona Central, Fairmont Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites.