A Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) is an official document certifying acquisition of American citizenship for a child born outside of the United States.
Also known as Form FS-240, the document provides the same evidence of citizenship as a United States passport, a Certificate of Naturalization, or a Certificate of Citizenship.
A Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a U.S. citizen is only issued to a child who acquired U.S. citizenship at birth and who is generally under the age of 18 at the time of the application.
Procedure for Documenting a Birth Abroad
Start by collecting evidence of the child’s birth. You may also need to gather documents that prove the parent(s)’ U.S. citizenship, marriage (if applicable), and previous physical presence in the United States. (Learn more in Acquisition of Citizenship for Children.)
If the parents are unmarried and the father is a citizen and the mother a non-citizen, the consular officer usually requires that the father sign an affidavit saying that he is the child’s biological father and that he will support the child financially. Additional evidence such as divorce decrees from previous marriages or blood tests may also be required.
Contact Your Nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate
The child’s parent or legal guardian should report his or her birth as soon as possible at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate so that a Consular Report of Birth Abroad can be issued as an official record of the child’s claim to U.S. citizenship.
Prepare the Application
Apply for the Consular Report of Birth Abroad through the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in the country where your child was born. Procedures for each embassy can vary. So check the embassy’s webpage for more specific instructions.
Receive the CRBA
Once the consular officer approves the application, the Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) can be issued. The child’s parents may choose to apply for a U.S. passport for the child at the same time that they apply for a CRBA.
The U.S. embassy or consulate will provide one original copy of an eligible child’s Consular Report of Birth Abroad. But you may replace, amend or request multiple copies of a CRBA at any time.
Parents of a child born abroad to a U.S. citizen or citizens should apply for a CRBA and/or a U.S. passport for the child as soon as possible. Failure to promptly document a child who meets the statutory requirements for acquiring U.S. citizenship at birth may cause problems for the parents and the child when attempting to establish the child’s U.S. citizenship and eligibility for the rights and benefits of U.S. citizenship, including entry into the United States. By law, U.S. citizens, including dual nationals, must use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States.
Not Eligible for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad
Children who acquired U.S. citizenship or U.S. nationality at birth in certain territories of the United States during relevant time periods are not eligible for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad. They are not eligible because such persons are not considered to have been born abroad. They are already American citizens or nationals.
Individuals born in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, Swains Island, The Panama Canal Zone (before October 1, 1979), The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (after January 8, 1978, 8PM EST), and The Philippines (before July 4, 1946) may establish acquisition of U.S. citizenship or non-citizen nationality, based upon the applicable agreement or statute, by producing their birth certificate issued from the local Vital Records Office along with any other evidence required to establish acquisition.
For persons born in American Samoa and Swains Island, the easiest way to obtain American citizenship is to establish residence in the United States and file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
RECOMMENDED: How U.S. Nationals Apply for Citizenship
Obtaining Proof of U.S. Citizenship When Over 18
Individuals born abroad who acquired U.S. citizenship at birth but who are now over the age of 18 (and so not eligible for a CRBA) may apply for a Certificate of Citizenship to document U.S. citizenship using Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship. Alternatively, the individual may apply for a U.S. passport.
RECOMMENDED: Acquisition of Citizenship for Children Born Outside the United States
Replacing a Consular Report of Birth Abroad
The U.S. State Department stopped producing the Certificate of Report of Birth (DS-1350) in 2010. This was a similar document that remains valid. However, any replacements are now issued as Form FS-240. Only certain individuals may request a replacement FS-240:
- Those listed on the birth record (if age 18 or older);
- A parent (for minors under age 18) or legal guardian;
- An authorized government agency; or
- A person with written authorization from the individual listed on the birth record.
To request a Consular Report of Birth Abroad form (FS-240), you must submit the following items:
Notarized Request Letter
Your notarized request must include all of the following information:
Copy of Requester’s Valid Photo ID
Examples of acceptable documents include:
If you don’t have any of these IDs, review Passport Vital Records IDs.
Send a $50.00 check or money order made out to “U.S. Department of State.” Never mail cash. Additional copies are $50 each. Checks and money orders must be payable in U.S. dollars through a U.S. bank. Include complete mailing address on the check
Mail the request, copy of the photo ID, and payment to:
U.S. Department of State Passport Vital Records Section 44132 Mercure Cir. PO Box 1213 Sterling, VA 20166-1213
The U.S. State Department generally takes 4 to 8 weeks time to process your Consular Report of Birth Aboard. If you don’t provide all the items listed above, your request for the CRBA will be delayed.
Certificate of Birth Abroad
Prior to the Consular Report of Birth Abroad, Americans born outside the United States may have received a “Certificate of Birth Abroad.” This is a now-discontinued vital record. Like the CRBA, consular offices issued the certificate to prove the identity of individuals born abroad to U.S. citizen parents. The Department of State refers to it as FS 545.
The Certificate of Birth Abroad continues to be a valid form of identification for birth abroad.
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Note to Reader: This post was originally published on January 5, 2016, and has been modified with improvements.