Obtaining Birth Certificates for Military Children Born Overseas

by Jayne Thompson

For families, living overseas is a normal part of military life.

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For citizenship purposes, overseas military bases are not considered “U.S. soil,” and the children of military personnel who are born on them are not automatically entitled to a state-issued birth certificate. Instead, you’ll have to apply for a “Consular Report of Birth Abroad” from a nearby U.S. consulate or embassy. The CRBA is proof of the child’s citizenship, and it may be used to obtain a U.S. passport for the child.

Determine Whether the Child Is a U.S. Citizen

Most military children born abroad acquire U.S. citizenship through their parents. Essentially, a child is a U.S. citizen if the parents are married and at least one of them is a U.S. citizen who has lived in the U.S. at some point before the child was born. Time spent overseas in the military counts as living in the U.S. for this purpose. The rules are more complicated when the parents are not married. The U.S. Department of State website provides detailed information.

Assemble Your Citizenship Documents

After you have determined that your child is a U.S. citizen, locate your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate using the list on the USEmbassy.gov website. Contact them to determine which citizenship documents are necessary to issue a military birth certificate, which may include your U.S. passport, certificate of naturalization, marriage certificate and employment records showing physical presence in the U.S. You may need to bring several copies of each document – some embassies publish checklists to help you gather the appropriate documents.

Complete an Application

Fill out Form DS 2029, an application for Consular Report of Birth Abroad, but do not sign it at this stage. Gather your application, citizenship documents, a photograph of your child that meets U.S. passport photo specifications and the application fee. Fees vary depending on your territory, but expect to pay around $100. Schedule an appointment at the embassy. Some embassies allow online scheduling.

Go to the Appointment

Both parents should bring their application and documents to the appointment. If one parent is not able to attend, he or she must submit a notarized statement of consent to the application. If the consul is satisfied that the child is entitled to U.S. citizenship, an officer will issue a “Consular Report of Birth Abroad.” This document is proof of your child’s U.S. citizenship. You can use it instead of a military birth certificate when applying for a passport, enrolling your child in school, and for other legal identification purposes.

If your child was born on a military base in Puerto Rico, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and Swains Island, he or she is not considered to have been born abroad. Instead of applying for a CRBA, apply for a U.S. birth certificate from the local vital records office in the usual manner.

Tips

  • Children born on military bases in Puerto Rico, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and Swains Island are not considered to have been born abroad. Instead of applying for a CRBA, apply for a U.S. birth certificate from the local Vital Records Office in the usual way.

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About the Author

A former real estate lawyer, Jayne Thompson writes about law, business and corporate communications, drawing on 17 years’ experience in the legal sector. She holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Birmingham and a Masters in International Law from the University of East London.