This past August I gave birth to twins (Leo and Noa) in Spain. Because I’m American and Javi is Spanish our babies get to enjoy the benefits of dual citizenship. 🙌
To make their American nationality official I needed to submit a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) before the twins’ 18th birthday. This required a trip to the nearest U.S consulate in Seville as both parents and child(ren) must be present for the application.
Hurray for dual citizenship!
Here are my tips for registering the birth of an American child abroad and applying for their U.S. passport:
- To save yourself an additional trip to the consulate in the future, apply for your child(ren)’s U.S. passport at the same time as the CRBA.
- Contact the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy ahead of time to confirm the required documents for both applications.
- You should wait until you have all the documents before scheduling an appointment. You’ll likely need to request your high school and college transcripts to prove you lived in the U.S. and transcripts can take several days to obtain.
- Bring several payment options to your appointment. During the pandemic the consulate only accepts card payments, however none of our cards worked so we had to pay in cash. They require you to pay the exact amount so bring small bills (in Euros) just in case. At the time we applied the fee was $215 per child (for both the CRBA + passport)—and we paid in Euros based on the conversion rate the day of our appointment.
Child born in wedlock to a U.S. citizen parent (after November 14, 1986) and an alien: the child acquires citizenship provided that the U.S. citizen parent had been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for five years, of which at least two years were after the age of fourteen.
Once you submit the required documents you’ll receive the child’s birth certificate and passport in about 4 – 6 weeks.
The twins nailed their passport photos 🤣
Documents needed to report a birth abroad
As instructed, we brought the original documents listed below plus two copies of each (one copy for the CRBA and one for the passport application). If you’ve got questions about any of these docs make sure to contact the U.S. consulate or embassy directly via phone or email—you can find their contact information online.
FORM DS-2029: Application for Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA): Print and fill out the form. U.S. citizen parents must take special care in listing their physical presence in the United States in the greatest possible detail on page 2. Note, I needed extra space to record all my trips to and from the states over the years, you can do this on the last page (section D). Remember, DO NOT SIGN the form—you’ll do this in person when you submit the application in person. Find a link to the form and more tips on completing it on the embassy website here.
FORM DS-11: Passport application: Fill out the passport application online and print it out. Again, DO NOT sign the form. Make sure to add country codes for any phone numbers you provide (ex. +34 for Spanish numbers and +1 for U.S. numbers).
Spanish birth certificate + translation: You’ll need to provide the original birth certificate as well as 2 copies. We live in Spain, so we brought our ‘Libro de Familia’ (family book) to the appointment as well just in case. The original certificate will be sent with the paperwork, and then returned to you once the CRBA and passport applications are processed. Keep in mind you’ll need to do an ‘informal’ translation of the birth certificate into English and the consulate can provide a template for you to use.
Proof of citizenship and identity of parents: Each parent should bring their passport to prove citizenship. You’ll also need to provide scanned copies of the photo page of each passport.
Marriage certificate + translation (if applicable): For this we used our Spanish ‘Libro de Familia’ and provided a scanned copy of pages 2 and 3 (listing the titulares del libro). You’ll also need to provide an informal translation of the marriage certificate—again the consulate can provide you with a template to use.
Divorce decrees/death certificates + translation (if applicable): These items weren’t applicable for us but I imagine you’d follow a similar process as the marriage certificate – i.e. libro de familia plus translation.
Proof of U.S. citizenship parent(s)’ physical presence in the U.S. before child’s birth: This item is a bit confusing because there are different requirements based on the circumstances of the child’s birth. In our case I needed to prove I had lived in the U.S. for at least 5 years, 2 of which were after the age of 14. I submitted my unofficial high school and university transcripts plus my vaccine record. You can also use documents like tax returns and employment records…however the transcripts should suffice.
Photo: You’ll need to provide a 2” x 2” (5 x 5 cm) passport photo of the child. The consulate said you can take the photo yourself however they made my friend run out and take a professional photo of her baby…so save yourself time and let a pro do it. 😉
Once you arrive at the consulate (or embassy) the consular assistant will review your original documents and verify the copies. Next they’ll re-review the documents to check things like dates, names, delivery addresses, etc. to ensure everything is correct. Expect this part to take about an hour. The last step is to take an oath verifying the information is correct, sign the applications, and pay the fees. Once submitted it should take about 4 – 6 weeks to receive their American passport and birth certificate. In our case it took less than 3 weeks.