Edit 14 March 2017:
I realize that there may be a lot of people who want to get passports for their kids, and live in the US. In that case, the process is similiar, but also much simpler. The domestic application process is outlined at the end of the post!
Less than 6 weeks after Evelyn was born, Aaron and I had a big trip back to the US scheduled. Tickets were bought months before she was born in order to take her back to meet her grandparents, aunts, and uncle for the first time, and to be baptized. But, in order for her to actually travel, she first needed a US passport. And, since she was born in Germany, we needed to first establish that she was a US citizen. Thankfully, it ended up being a fairly simple process, but as with anything involving the government, it didn't appear that way at first. Here, we will take you through the forms and process to apply for citizenship and a passport for a baby born outside of the US.
Before you can officially apply for an infant passport, it needs to be formally established that the baby is, in fact, a US citizen. For a child born to two US citizens, this is a fairly simple process. You first need to fill out an application for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA, also called a DS-29), which established that the child is a US citizen. This is the form we filled out, but definitely check the website for your local consulate for the most up to date version. Most of the form is straight forward - names, birth dates, basic information - but one section did give me pause. Section 24 asks the parents to fill out their exact dates and locations of time spent in the US. Here, I wasn't sure what they wanted, especially since we were born in lower Michigan, went to school in upper Michigan, spent summers in various parts of the country for work, and "officially" lived in a couple of different places. I left this blank when we went to the consulate. Thankfully, since we are both US citizens, transmitting citizenship to Evelyn was simple and they just asked us to fill in the city we were born/grew up in, and the dates (which was our date of birth until we moved to Germany). However, if only one parent is a citizen, you likely need to be more detailed in how this section is filled out. We also took documentation with us to prove our time in the US (college transcripts, tax statements, etc.). Other acceptable forms of documentation are listed on the CRBA application. In order to finalize the process, both parents must take an oath stating that the information on the form is complete and accurate to the best of their knowledge and then sign the form (do NOT sign ANYTHING until you are at the consulate in front of an officer).
Once the CRBA is filled out and citizenship is established, you can apply for a passport for your baby. This is a standard passport application, but it is important to note that in order to get a passport for a minor, BOTH parents must be present. If one parent cannot be there, there is a separate statement of consent that must be completed by the absent parent and notarized giving the present parent permission to apply for a passport for the child. This is mostly to reduce the incidence of international child abduction by one of the parents. A standard passport photo must also be included. Check out this link for passport photo requirements. Note that taking a photo that meets these requirements is exceedingly difficult when the baby is two weeks old. We know this from experience.
In Germany, you must make an appointment at the consulate where you want to apply for a CRBA and a passport. The soonest appointments are typically a couple of weeks out. We actually made our appointment before Evelyn was born because we were on a tight time schedule with our trip to the US already booked. Thankfully, all passports applied for abroad automatically receive express processing so we had her's back approximately two weeks after we applied for it. We also received a fancy certificate showing that Evelyn is indeed, a citizen of the United States of America. It's far cooler, and much fancier, than either of our birth certificates.
So, if you have a child born abroad, there are quite a few documents that you need to take with you to the closest consulate:
- Completed Consular Report of Birth Abroad Application, also called a DS-2029
- Birth Certificate of the Child
- Any required documentation to show time spent in the United States
- Completed Passport Application, also called a DS-11
- Passport Photo that fulfills the requirements for a passport photo
- Passports of the parents
- Marriage Certificate (if applicable), although they did not ask for ours, we did take the original just in case
And, here is a good summary of all the requirements for a CRBA from the US Consulate in Germany. These are for all non-military US citizens. They may apply for military dependents, but I'm not sure.
Ahh, the joys of giving birth abroad to a US citizen! For us, it was an enjoyable experience, but there is definitely more paperwork than if she had been born in the US. One bonus is that she now has a passport before she even turns 1 month old! How many people can say that?!
Applying for a Passport in the US
Thankfully, if you already live in the US (i.e. are not an expat), and your baby was born there, applying for a passport is even easier! Both parents will still need to be present when the application is filed, but you won't have to establish citizenship with a CRBA and go to an embassy. The documents you will need are:
- Filled out DS-11
- Original and photocopy of the child's birth certificate
- Copies of parents' IDs
- Passport Photo
You'll take all of these to a passport acceptance center to apply, which are far more common than embassies are abroad!
Check out this link from the state department to get a copy of the DS-11, the photo requirements (they are sometimes a little more lenient with the pictures of really little babies, but it's not a given), and a list of other documents you'll need to bring with you. To find a passport facility near you, click here.