If you were born abroad and at least one of your parents was American, you can likely apply for and receive a U.S. passport. However, even if you’ve been living in the United States for most or all of your life, your birth outside the United States, even on a military base, will mean that you don’t have a standard U.S. birth certificate. Instead, your vital records will include one of several types of documents depending on whether your parents were with a military base, how they registered your birth, and whether you were born to American citizens or adopted. No matter what your circumstance, this article will walk you through the basic steps required to request a replacement birth certificate online or through the mail, so you can use it as proof of citizenship or identity.
Requesting Your Consular Report of Birth Abroad
The Consular Report of Birth Abroad means that you were born in another country or at a U.S. military base outside of the United States and your parents registered your birth with the local consulate. If your parents are living, you can very simply ask if they registered your birth.
If you were born before December 2010, your Consular Report of Birth Abroad will be a form FS-240 or DS-1350. If your child was born after 2010, you will have a form FS-240.
Because the Department of state maintains all registered records of birth abroad, you can easily request your replacement birth certificate online or through the mail. You will need the following information to replace your birth certificate:
- Your full name at birth
- Any adoptive names
- Your date and place of birth
- Your passport information including passport date of issue, date of expiration, and passport number if available.
- A valid photo ID such as a state issued driver’s license, photo ID, military ID, passport, veterans’ affairs ID, or prison ID. OR an expired photo ID with two secondary proofs of identification such as utility bills or bank statements with your full name, included with the signed statement “I declare that I do not have a valid state or government issued photo ID and I am presenting two additional documents.”
- Full names of parents or legal guardians and in case of adoption or guardianship, a copy of the court order granting guardianship
- The serial number of your Consular Report of Birth Abroad where available
- Address and contact number
You will have to sign this request with your vital records in front of a notary, which you can find at your local bank and most post offices. The U.S. Department of State charges $50 via check or money order and you can mail your request to:
U.S. Department of State
Passport Vital Records Section
44132 Mercure Cir.
PO Box 1213
Sterling, VA 20166-1213
In most cases, it will take 4-8 weeks to return your U.S. birth certificate. If you need an original copy of your birth certificate, you will have to contact the hospital or records keeping body in the country you were born.
What to Do If Your Parents Didn’t Register Your Birth Abroad?
If your parents were too busy or forgot to register your birth abroad, it may be more difficult to obtain your certified birth records. However, there are still several steps you can take to acquire your birth records.
- Contact the hospital where you were born
- Contact the base operator or public affairs office at your parent’s military installation
What If I was Adopted? Can I Get a U.S. Birth Certificate?
If you were born abroad and adopted by a U.S. citizen, you need to complete the U.S adoption process in order to request a U.S. birth certificate.
Also, you can acquire the birth certificate from the country in which you were born, which you can combine with other identifying documents as proof of citizenship. Contact the foreign embassy in the country of your birth for further assistance.
Importantly, if you acquire your original birth certificate, you may need to have it translated and certified or notarized in order to use it in the United States. The embassy which helps you to locate your birth certificate can help or offer guidance in finding an approved translator in the country.
Replacing a birth certificate and other certified vital records becomes much more difficult when you are born abroad or on a U.S. military base outside of the United States. You won’t typically be able to request your birth certificate online; however, you can amend it online, providing you have an existing copy of the document.
Can I Request a U.S. Birth Certificate for My Child Born Overseas?
If your child was born overseas, they will not receive a standard U.S. birth certificate. However, the Consulate Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) is in every way equivalent to a certified birth certificate. Providing you register your child after their birth, they will have the document, which you can request at any time. However, you will have to prove your own identity, which means having original copies of your birth certificate on application.
If your parents registered your birth with the local embassy, you can likely begin your search for your Consular Report of Birth Abroad at VitalRecordsOnline.