Military Families

Consular Services for U.S. Military Personnel and Dependents

The U.S. Mission in Germany is pleased and honored to be able to serve our military colleagues and their families.  We work very closely with personnel offices on base to provide you the services and information you need.  We’ve developed this website exclusively for you to make it even easier for you to obtain necessary travel documentation and other services.

Tips:

  • Apply far enough ahead of your travel to ensure you won’t be delayed.
  • New Passports:  Allow at least one month for issuance of a new tourist passport (3 months if applying for an official or no-fee passport).
  • Renewing Passports:  Check your current passport’s expiration date.  Make a note on your calendar to apply for a new one at least a month before it expires.
  • Immigrant Visas:  File an immigrant visa petition for your non-American family members at least six months before your PCS.
  • Remember:  It is your responsibility to ensure that you and your family members have all proper documentation before your trip.

We can help in bona fide emergencies, but simply forgetting to apply in time puts your travel plans at risk.  Some processes, such as immigrant visas, need months to be completed.

Appointments:
All services are by appointment only.  Department of Defense-affiliated personnel must apply for passports and reports of birth through their local Passport Agents on base.  If you need service in an emergency, your local Passport Agent will help you  make an appointment with us.

Important Note:
Please do not bring cell phones or other electronic devices as you will not be able to bring or store them inside the consulate.  Certain other items are also not allowed.  Read our Entry Regulations and Forbidden items notice (pdf).  No exceptions will be made.

Holidays:
We are closed on German and American Holidays.

Consulate Contacts:

Consular Reports of Birth Abroad

Most children born to an American citizen parent will become U.S. citizens at birth, but you should document the birth as soon as possible by applying for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA).  You can find information on the acquisition of U.S. citizenship by a child born abroad here.  The CRBA is proof of the child’s U.S. citizenship and substitutes for a U.S. birth certificate for most purposes.  You can apply for your child’s passport and for a social security number at the same time.  (You will need a social security number for the child to claim a deduction on your federal tax return.)

Process:  Your military passport acceptance agent will help you complete the required forms and advise you on the documents you need to present.  Once all the forms and documents are done, the military acceptance agent will send the package to the Consular Section in Frankfurt to process.  You will normally receive the CRBA within 6-8 weeks of applying.

Forms:  You need to complete and submit a DS-2029, “Application for Consular Report of Birth Abroad” (pdf).  If the parents are not married, you will also need to provide an “Affidavit of Parentage and Physical Presence” (pdf).

Documents: Please bring all documents as originals and one copy.
Along with the required forms, you will need to provide:

  • The child’s foreign birth certificate.  In Germany this is the beglaubigte Abschrift/Ausdruck aus dem Geburtenregister or the Abstammungsurkunde for children born before January 1, 2009.  We cannot accept the Geburtsurkunde.
  • Proof of the parents’ citizenship and identity.  A passport can serve as proof of both citizenship and identity.  Proof of citizenship can be a U.S. birth certificate or a certificate of naturalization.  Proof of identity can be an ID issued by the federal government or a state, such as your military ID card or a driver’s license.  Note:  Your military ID is not proof of citizenship.
  • If the parents are married, the marriage certificate.
  • Proof of termination of any prior marriages (divorce decree or death certificate).
  • Proof of the citizen parent(s) physical presence in the United States.  The physical presence requirement is different in different situations:
    –  If both parents are U.S. citizens who are married, at least one of the parents must have been resident in the United States for at least some time prior to the birth.
    –  If the parents are married but only one is a U.S. citizen, the citizen parent must have been physically present in the United States for a minimum of five years before the child was born, at least two of which were after the age of 14.  The presence does not need to be continuous.
    –  If the parents are not married and the mother is a U.S. citizen, she must have been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of at least one year prior to the birth.
    – If the parents are not married and the father is a U.S. citizen, he must have been physically present in the United States for a minimum of five years before the child was born, at least two of which were after the age of 14.  The presence does not need to be continuous.

Note:  Presence abroad as an employee of the U.S. government or dependent of a U.S. government employee counts as physical presence in the United States.

  • If the American citizen father is not listed in the birth certificate, please include the German Vaterschaftsanerkennung.

All documents that are not in English or German should be accompanied by an English or German translation.

Fees:  There is a fee of $100 for the CRBA, which must be paid by postal money order.  There is no fee waiver for U.S. military members.  If you choose to apply for a tourist passport for the child at the same time, additional fees will apply.

Emergencies:  If you need the CRBA quickly due to a bona fide emergency, explain the situation to your military passport acceptance agent.  S/he will contact the Consular Section to arrange for emergency service.  Please understand that asking for emergency service simply because you forgot to apply in time not only risks your travel plans but can lengthen the queue for other military families.

Members of the U.S. military on official orders do not need a passport to enter Germany or another country with a Status of Forces Agreement.  (Seehttps://www.fcg.pentagon.mil/docs/GM.cfm.)  Military members can also enter the United States with a copy of their travel orders and military ID.  However, family members do need passports to travel to Germany or back to the United States.

Military dependents on PCS orders and military members who need a passport for official travel may be eligible for an official or no-fee passport. Official and no fee passports may take up to 12 weeks to process.

You may also need a tourist passport if you intend to travel for vacation or other personal reasons.  Each U.S. citizen family member, children and adults, needs his/her own passport.  Regular passports take about three weeks to process.  Don’t forget to review clearance requirements for your destination at https://www.fcg.pentagon.mil/.

How to Apply:  All passport applications for military members and dependents are processed through the Military Passport Acceptance Agent at your base personnel office.  The military passport agent can help you complete and submit the application forms.

Forms:  You can get application forms from your military passport acceptance agent, or here.

Fees:  The required fee depends on your age and whether or not you’ve had a passport before.  See here for details.  You must bring a postal money order in the exact amount required when submitting your application to the military passport agent.

Photos:  Passport photo requirements can be found here.

Other Documents:  You need to provide proof of citizenship and proof of identity. A prior passport can serve as proof of both citizenship and identity. Proof of citizenship can be a U.S. birth certificate (long form birth certificates, please; abstracts of birth records are not accepted) or a certificate of naturalization. Proof of identity can be an ID issued by the federal government or a state, such as your military ID card or a driver’s license.
Note:  Your military ID is not proof of citizenship, but can be used to prove identity.

Two-Parent Signature Rule:  The law requires that both parents sign the passport application of a child under 16 years of age in front of the military passport acceptance agent.  If one parent cannot appear, s/he can submit a notarized form DS-3053.  The two-parent signature rule does not apply if you have sole custody of the child, but you must provide evidence of sole custody, such as a court decree or the death certificate of the other parent.

Emergencies:  If you need a passport quickly due to a bona fide emergency, explain the situation to your military passport acceptance agent.  S/he will contact the Consular Section to request emergency service.  Please understand that asking for emergency service simply because you forgot to apply in time not only risks your travel plans but can lengthen the queue for other military families.

Official (maroon) passports are issued in Washington to employees of the U.S. Government traveling or on assignment abroad in discharge of their official duties.  When appropriate, dependents of such persons may also be issued official passports.

However, military personnel assigned to countries with which the United States has Status of Forces Agreements (SOFA) will not normally receive official passports.  The SOFA allows them to travel on military ID and orders.  Military dependents in SOFA countries may be issued no-fee dependent blue passports.  Military members assigned to SOFA countries may receive official passports if their duties require official travel to countries outside the SOFA-covered region.

No-fee regular (blue) passports may also be issued if a military member needs to travel and there’s not enough time to receive an official passport.

To apply for an official or no-fee regular passport, submit to your military acceptance agent:

  • A completed DS-11 or DS-82 (see “Forms”).
  • Photo.
  • Proof of identity and citizenship.  A prior passport can serve as proof of both citizenship and identity.  Proof of citizenship can be a U.S. birth certificate or a certificate of naturalization.  Proof of identity can be an ID issued by the federal government or a state, such as your military ID card or a driver’s license.  Note:  Your military ID is not proof of citizenship.
  • Form DD-1056 (PDF).
  • Assignment orders.

If your family member is not a U.S. citizen, s/he will need an immigrant visa to live with you in the United States.  Your spouse, children and parents may also be eligible for immigration.  Step children (children of your spouse) will qualify if they were under 18 when you married their parent.

Immigration is a two step process:

  • First, file a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • Second, once USCIS approves the petition, apply for the immigrant visa at the Consular Section in Frankfurt.

Immigrant Visa Petitions:  The petition for family members is form I-130.

  • If you are assigned to Germany, you should file your petition with USCIS at the Consulate in Frankfurt.  You may file in person by mail only.  You can find instructions here.  The petition process will take 90 to 120 days.
  • Once you return to the United States, you must file with a USCIS office in the United States.  The process usually takes 9 to 12 months.  Full instructions can be found on the USCIS website.

Applying for an Immigrant Visa:  Once a petition has been approved by USCIS, it will be sent to the Consular Section in Frankfurt, which will contact you with instructions on applying for a visa and the necessary forms your family member will need to complete.  Once all the forms have been completed and all the required documents gathered, your family member will receive an appointment for a personal interview at the Consular Section in Frankfurt (usually within three weeks).  If everything is complete and in order at the interview, the visa will be in your hands within 10 days.  The immigrant visa will normally be valid for 180 days.

You can find a more detailed explanation of the process here 

Fees:  There is a filing fee of $535 for the I-130.  The visa application fee is $325.  These fees can be paid at the Consulate with cash, credit card or money order.  In addition, after visa issuance all applicants must pay USCIS a $220 fee by credit card online to cover the cost of maintaining the immigration file and issuing documents such as the green card.  Information on this fee is available here.

FAQs on Immigrant Visas

“Green Cards”

A “green card” (I-551) is issued to legal permanent residents of the United States  You do not apply for a “green card” abroad – you apply for an immigrant visa (see above), and once admitted to the United States as an immigrant you become a “legal permanent resident” and USCIS will send you the card, generally within two months.  You can enter and depart the United States freely with the card and your non-U.S. passport.

But there is an important rule you need to be aware of.  Normally, legal permanent residents cannot remain outside the United States for more than one year.  If you do, you will lose your legal permanent resident status.  This rule does not apply if you are abroad on U.S. government orders, or accompanying a family member who is.

If you lose your green card or it expires while you are outside the United States contact USCIS Frankfurt.  You can find more information here.

A nonimmigrant visa is a visa for someone who wants to go to the United States for a temporary purpose, for example tourism or business or to study.  Military members themselves should be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents and don’t need a visa, but family members and local employees of the military may not be, and therefore may need a visa to travel to the United States.

Citizens of some countries, including Germany, traveling for tourism or business may enter the United States without a visa and stay up to 90 days under the Visa Waiver Program.  Visa waiver travelers must register through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization and receive approval before traveling.

Information on visas for other purposes is available here.

Applying for a nonimmigrant visa:

Complete information on applying for a nonimmigrant visa can be found here.

Important Note:  To qualify for a visa for tourism or business, or for most other purposes, a visa applicant needs to show that s/he is going to be leaving the United States at the end of the authorized stay.  Taking a non-American family member to the United States for a vacation, or for home leave between foreign assignments is probably OK.

But don’t try to get a nonimmigrant visa to go and live in the United States  It may seem quicker and easier than applying for an immigrant visa (see our information on immigrant visa), but (1) we probably won’t issue the visa, so you’ve wasted the application fee, (2) if you lie to get a visa you could be ineligible to get a visa for the rest of your life, (3) if you reach the United States, the immigration officer at the airport may send you right back, and (4) even if you succeed in getting into the United States, adjusting your status is a long and potentially expensive process.

FAQs on Nonimmigrant Visas

Normally, becoming an American citizen is a lengthy process, requiring several years of residence in the United States, and can only be done in the United States.  Special rules apply, however, to active duty members of the military.  If you are on active duty and a legal permanent resident, the U.S. residence requirements can be waived and you may apply through the USCIS office at the Consulate General in Frankfurt.  See the USCIS Frankfurt website or contact your military legal office for further details.

Child Custody
Military families may be surprised to learn that, while resident in Germany, their child custody matters will generally fall under the jurisdiction of German courts, and not U.S. courts.  The Consulate can monitor a case in the German judicial system, but we cannot represent a citizen parent.  You must work through a local attorney, and meet all requirements of German law, such as attending hearings, if required.

While a custody case is ongoing, it is usually required, and certainly recommended, that both parties and their attorneys be present at custody hearings.  This poses a special challenge, not only to military members, but to anyone who may need to transfer or relocate during the case.  If a member of the military is facing transfer during an ongoing case, the member may want to talk to the personnel office about a Tour of Duty extension; otherwise return visits for hearings may be required.

Regardless of nationality or affiliation with the military, taking a child from the family home and out of the country of their present permanent domicile by one parent without the consent of the other parent, will usually be seen as abduction.  Parental child abduction is a Federal crime.

Because Germany and the United States belong to the Hague Abduction Convention, the left-behind parent may file an application for the child to be returned to the country of habitual residence for the custody matter to be settled in that country’s court system.  If the children are residents of Germany, the custody will be settled in German courts regardless of whether the child or  parents are U.S. citizens.  This includes families stationed in Germany with the military or those working as civilians for the military,

The U.S. Consulate General maintains a general list of English-speaking attorneys and also a short list of English-speaking attorneys specializing in custody matters and family law.  Military members may also consult their JAG office to see what services might be available.  We understand that the JAG, in general, does not provide legal services in civil cases, but may be able to offer general guidance and an attorney list.

For further information on child abduction, the Hague Abduction Convention and to access the list of English speaking attorneys please visit the Office of Children’s Issues website at:

http://travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en.html

Deaths
In the case of the death in Germany of a U.S. citizen affiliated with the U.S. military, contact your casualty assistance office as soon as possible.  If the deceased had a German residence permit at the time of death, contact GermanyACS@state.gov or call our Special Consular Services Unit at Tel: 069-7535-2515; Fax 069-7535-2252.

The U.S. Consulate General is responsible for issuing a Consular Report of Death in the case of most U.S. citizen civilians who die abroad.  The Consular Report of Death is accepted in the United States as the legal equivalent of a U.S. state death certificate, and may be needed for insurance or estate purposes.  The death of U.S. citizens in Germany under the Status of Forces Agreement will be documented by the casualty assistance office with a form DD-2064, which serves the same purpose as the Consular Report of Death or a U.S. state death certificate.

For information on eligibility for survivor benefits, contact our Federal Benefits Unit (Social Security) under the direct phone number (069) 905551-103 (English) or (069) 905551-203 (German) Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 11:00 am.

Arrest
If a military member or other person subject to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) is arrested in Germany, inquiries should be referred to the appropriate Office of the Staff Judge Advocate (JAG).