Citizenship Requirements FAQs

Your child is an American citizen if he or she was born in the USA (except for children of foreign diplomats).

Your child may have a claim to US citizenship if he or she was born abroad and both parents are US citizens at least one of whom resided in the US or possession.

Your child may also have a claim to US citizenship if only one parent is a US citizen, however, that parent must have been physically present in the US or possession at least five years, at least two of which were after the age of 14, but prior to the child's birth.

Different rules apply for children born out of wedlock or born before 1986 (see below).

For more information, contact your US consulate or ACA, Inc.

 

Frequently asked questions:

 

Q: We are married and expecting a baby and we live outside the USA, will our child be an American citizen?
A: If both parents are American citizens, married to each other and at least one of the parents has lived in the USA sometime in their life, the child may have a claim to US citizenship. Be sure to register the birth and apply for a US passport at the nearest US consulate before the child's 18th birthday. This "Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA)" or FS-240 is an important document as it proves that the child is a US citizen.

Q: I am an American woman and I gave birth outside the USA after receiving an implanted ovum. Is my child an American citizen?
A: In cases of assisted reproductive technology and same-sex marriages, the US State Department continues to apply a basic rule for recognizing US citizenship of children born abroad. The rule is that what counts is the actual blood relationship. In other words, donated ova or sperm transmit the donor's possible US citizenship to the future child. US citizenship is not automatically conferred by an American surrogate mother or a same-sex American partner. This situation can cause delight or anguish, depending on the circumstances, especially if the parent(s) were unclear about the legal situation beforehand.

Q: I am the American father of a child born out of wedlock outside the USA. Does my child have a claim to US citizenship?
A: Yes, if (1) you've been physically present in the US at least five years prior to the child's birth, two of which were after age 14. Honorable US military service, employment with the US Government or intergovernmental international organization or as the dependent unmarried son and member of the household of a parent in such service or employment, may be included AND (2) a blood relationship has been established between you the father and the child, and you agree to support the child until 18 years, and while the child is under 18 (i) the child is legitimated, (ii) you acknowledge paternity, or (iii) paternity is established by court adjudication.

Q: I am an unmarried mother. I am a US citizen. Does my child born abroad have a claim to US citizenship?
A: Yes, if you've lived for at least one ENTIRE UNINTERRUPTED year in the USA (at any time before the birth of the child).

Q: I was born outside the USA. I believe I have a claim to US citizenship. How can I prove it?
A: If you have a "Consular Report of Birth Abroad FS-240" or "Certification of Report of Birth (DS-1350)" that's all you need. You can apply for a US passport immediately, either in the USA or at a US consulate abroad. If you do not have one of  these documents, you will have to get one from the US consulate in the area near where you were born if under the age of 18. If you are an adult and and your birth was registered at a US consulate but you have lost or misplaced the document, you will have to make a written request to the Vital Records Section in Washington DC.

Q: I was born in the USA to non-American parents from Canada. We moved back to Canada when I was two years old. Am I still a US citizen?
A: Yes. All persons born in the USA are American citizens for their whole life. (The only exception is the child of a foreign diplomat born during an official tour of duty in the USA.) You can apply for a US passport at any US consulate.

Q: I was born abroad. My American father was married to my German mother at the time I was born. Do I have a claim to US citizenship?
A: Yes, if your father was physically present in the US at least five years prior to your birth, at least two of which were after his 14th birthday. Presence abroad in honorable US military service, employment with the US Government or intergovernmental international organization or as the dependent unmarried son and member of the household of a parent in such service or employment, may be included.

Q: I was born abroad. My American mother was married to my Spanish father when I was born. Do I have a claim to US citizenship?
A: Yes, if your mother was physically present in the US at least five years prior to your birth, at least two of which were after her 14th birthday. Honorable US military service, employment with the US Government or intergovernmental international organization or as the dependent unmarried daughter and member of the household of a parent in such service or employment, may be included.

Q: I was born to a non-American mother inside a US embassy compound where my mother took refuge during civil strife in my home country. Do I have a claim to US citizenship?
A: No. US diplomatic or consular facilities abroad and US military installations abroad are not part of the United States within the meaning of the 14th Amendment. A child born on the premises of such a facility is not born in the United States and does not acquire US citizenship by reason of birth there.

 

Provided here is a Table of Transmission Requirements for children born abroad to an American mother and/or father.

 

Last Updated August 29, 2014