The birth of a child is a joyful moment and a responsibility – one such responsibility is sorting out your child’s citizenship. On this page, you will learn about a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA), eligibility requirements, CRBA application, the role of parents’ residence status, and processing time. You will also be provided with a checklist, detailed instructions on how to apply for CRBA, and answers to the most commonly asked questions.
What Is A Consular Report Of Birth Abroad (CRBA)?
A Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) is a document that proves a child’s U.S. nationality and can grant American citizenship to a child born to U.S. citizens outside of the U.S. territories. To apply for a CRBA birth certificate in a foreign country, you will have to contact the nearest U.S. consulate office. The U.S. has over 160 embassies and consulates in excess of 90 countries around the world, which means you can certainly have one close by.
CRBA Eligibility Requirements
Generally speaking, CRBA requirements can be split into two categories: for the child’s parents and for the child itself.
- A parent must be “born or naturalized” in the U.S. to submit an application for a CRBA certificate, meaning that a parent must be an American citizen. The consulate may also factor in the parents’ marital status.
- Regarding the child, it must be under 18 years old to qualify as a child born abroad to a U.S. citizen. However, it is strongly advisable that should a family meet the eligibility criteria, they should schedule a CRBA appointment at the earliest convenience to start the application process. An application can be started as soon as the child is born.
While this is the general framework for an application for a U.S. Consular Report of Birth Abroad, it is expected that conditions may vary amongst families. Thus, below we will look at several situations and explore whether they will be allowed to receive a U.S. CRBA.
Parents Are Married And Both Are U.S. Citizens
CRBA may be issued to a child born abroad along with U.S. citizenship if:
- The child’s parents are citizens of the United States, who are married, and their child was born abroad; and
- Only one of the parents must have a biological connection to the child. A CRBA DNA test is only required in very rare circumstances when the biological connection cannot be clearly proven; or
- One of the parents must have resided in the U.S. before the child was born. If the marriage is between a U.S. citizen and a U.S. national, then the citizen must have resided in the U.S. for at least a year prior to the child’s birth.
You are a U.S. citizen if you acquired U.S. citizenship by birthright or by naturalization. However, you are a U.S. national if you were born in U.S. territories. Thus, U.S. citizens will always be U.S. nationals but U.S. nationals are not always U.S. citizens. Learn more about citizenship vs nationality.
Parents Are Married And Only One Is A U.S. Citizen
Your child will also be able to receive CRBA if:
- The parent that is a citizen of the United States gave birth to a child abroad and was married to a non-U.S. citizen at the time;
- The birth happened on/after 14 November 1986 with or without in vitro fertilization or surrogacy; and
- The U.S. citizen parent resided in the United States for at least five years before the birth occurred and two of those years were after the age of 14. Not every departure is considered an absence, for example, you can be absent from the U.S. if you were under military deployment or on governmental travels.
Parents Are Unmarried And Male Parent Is A U.S. Citizen
While this may seem like a more complicated situation for receiving a CRBA, it is still possible to obtain the document, provided that:
- The male parent can provide proof of a blood connection to the child;
- The male parent is a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth;
- The male parent resided in the U.S. for at least five years prior to the child’s birth and at least two of them were after the age of 14; and
- The male parent can produce a written statement promising to financially support the child until it reaches 18 years of age
Parents Are Unmarried And Female Parent Is A U.S. Citizen
This category heavily depends on the timing of the birth due to recently enacted legislation.
- If the child is born before 12 June 2017 to a U.S. citizen mother, having been a resident in the States for a year prior to the birth, then a CRBA may be issued to an overseas consulate.
- If the child was born after 11 June 2017, but the mother had been a physical resident of the U.S. for at least five years before this, then a CRBA may also be issued.
CRBA Processing Time
The CRBA processing time can vary from 15 business days to a month. This is largely dependent on which country you are applying from, for example:
- 4 weeks in Greece;
- 3 weeks in Italy;
- 2 to 4 weeks in the United Arab Emirates;
- 3 weeks in the Philippines; and
- 3 weeks in Kenya, Mexico, and Germany
It is imperative to consult your nearest embassy/consulate for more precise processing times.
CRBA Checklist for 2022
You can follow the below checklist to ensure that you are best prepared for the CRBA application process.
- Firstly, check whether your child can qualify for a CRBA. There is no point in proceeding with the next steps if your child is not eligible;
- Complete the application CRBA forms DS-2029, DS-11, and SS-5;
- Take a passport photo of your child;
- Prepare evidence of your residence in the United States;
- Prepare and collect required documents;
- Book an appointment at the nearest diplomatic embassy or consulate and write down the details of your booking because you will not be sent a confirmation email;
- Attend the appointment in order to pay the necessary fee for your CRBA application. Children under 16 will need to be accompanied by both of their parents. If the child is 16-17, only one of the parents’ presence is required. If neither of the parents can attend the appointment, then a Parental Awareness note needs to be included in the document package; and
- Wait for the application to be processed.
How To Apply For CRBA
As with any other application process, CRBA applications follow set procedures:
Step 1: Start the application form and prepare supporting documents.
- Fill out Form DS-2029;
- Depending on the location you submit Form DS-2029 (Application for Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America), you may be required to provide additional documents;
- You may be advised to apply for a passport at the same time by filling out Form DS-11 (Application for a U.S. passport);
- You will also be required to show evidence of your child’s birth, your marriage, and U.S. residence by providing the originals and photocopies of:
- The child’s certificate of birth;
- Your marriage certificate;
- Proof of the U.S. citizenship of parents;
- Proof of residence within the United States. This can be shown through tenancy agreements, employment contracts, payment of bills, or even school records, given that two of the school years were after the age of 14.
- Evidence of termination of previous marriage(s); and
- A statement of legal guardship of the applicant if not the child’s parent.
Step 2: Prepare to mail the application form and make the payment.
- Be mindful that the application fee can vary from country to country. Check the embassy or consulate where you intend to pay for your application. You can pay either by card or cash; and
- Make sure to confirm with the respective embassy or consulate how the application form is to be submitted. Find out what stamps are required for mailing the application.
Step 3: Make an appointment with your nearest embassy or consulate.
- Once you have gone through the first two steps, only then will you have to book a time slot for submitting your application. You can book an appointment on your embassy’s or consulate’s website; and
- Most of the time, you will be requested to arrive half an hour early, so make sure to calculate in advance how long it will take you to arrive at your appointment.
Frequently Asked Questions About CRBA
Below you will find answers to the most commonly asked questions about CRBA.
What is the CRBA eligibility?
The general CRBA eligibility rules cover children under the age of 18 born abroad to U.S. citizens and U.S. nationals. Hence, issuing a CRBA certificate is not available within the U.S. or its territories.
Does my child need a CRBA?
Your child will need a CRBA if it was born to U.S. citizens and U.S. nationals outside of the U.S., including:
- Puerto Rico (after 10 April 1899);
- American Samoa (after 15 February 1990);
- U.S. Virgin Islands (after 16 January 1917);
- Swains Island (after 3 March 1925);
- The Philippines (before 4 July 1946);
- Guam (after 23 December 1952);
- The Panama Canal Zone (before 1 October 1979); and
- The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (after 8 January 1978).
Who Can Apply For A CRBA?
Only children under 18 years of age, being born to U.S. citizens, are eligible to apply. If the child is unable to apply then their parents or legal guardians can complete the process on the child’s behalf.
How long does it take to get a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA)?
The timings of issuing a CRBA depend on how quickly you can collect all the documents, fill out all the necessary forms, as well as the processing time at your nearest embassy or consulate. For example, while the usual processing time is around 15 business days, in the UAE it can take as little as 2 weeks. In contrast to Switzerland, where eight weeks are the general timeline for non-emergency cases.
Is a Consular Report of Birth Abroad the same as a birth certificate?
The U.S. awards a birth certificate to people born within its territories and therefore can be proof of citizenship. The CRBA is the same as an account of a child’s birth, although it is strictly issued for children born outside of the U.S. and eligible for U.S. citizenship.
Can someone else obtain CRBA on my behalf?
Yes, you will need to provide a written authorization for this, accompanied by two photocopies of identification documents/cards. A friend of at least five years or a family member may submit a request on your behalf. The person tasked with obtaining the CRBA on your behalf will need to provide identification and a notarized statement.
Do I need a CRBA?
Yes, only if you qualify as someone born outside of the U.S. and its territories, under 18 years old, and born to U.S. citizens or nationals.
How do I get my U.S. birth certificate if I was born abroad?
You will need to apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad. The entire application process for obtaining your CRBA is done outside of the U.S. at your nearest embassy or consulate.
How to replace or amend a CRBA?
You can replace or amend a CRBA if your name is on the certificate and if you are over 18 years old if you are a parent and your child is under 18 years of age, if you are an authorized government agency, or if you have written authorization from the child listed on the certificate.
To start the amendment process, you will need to provide a notarized letter that includes:
- Your full name;
- The names of your parents or guardians;
- Dates of birth of your parents;
- A detailed explanation of the change that you are requesting;
- Your passport details;
- Your CRBA Serial number;
- Contract information; and
You will also need to provide any documents or evidence that would help you in making your amendment claim. If you claim that your birth date was incorrect, then you must provide some evidence of the correct date, like a birth certificate or hospital records. If you cannot provide any of the requested documents, you must provide a written reason for their absence. You must provide a photo ID or your passport with the application. For CRBA replacement, you are not required to submit the original CRBA.
To send the package, you will have to attach a $50 check or a money order addressed to “U.S. Department of State” and send it to:
U.S. Department of State
Passport Vital Records Section
44132 Mercure Cir.
PO Box 1213
Sterling, VA 20166-1213
What is the difference between citizenship by birth vs citizenship by blood?
Two ” rules ” can determine your child’s citizenship: the rule of territory and the rule of blood. The former refers to the idea that if you are born in a country, you can obtain citizenship in that country. The latter states that you can gain citizenship through your parents.
In the U.S. both rules are applicable. If you are born within the U.S. territories you will automatically gain American citizenship. Alternatively, if you are born outside of the U.S. territories but your parents are U.S. citizens you can gain U.S. citizenship by obtaining a Consular Report of Birth Abroad.