Children – Citizenship, Passport &Travel

If your child has a claim to U.S. citizenship, s/he is required to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. S/he should not enter the United States on a foreign passport with a visa, or visa free under the Visa Waiver Program.

If you are eligible to transmit citizenship, you may register your child’s birth at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, U.S. Consulate General in Frankfurt or Munich and obtain a U.S. passport and social security number for her or him. Read more

A Consular Report of Birth Abroad is official evidence of U.S. citizenship issued to a person under the age of 18 who was born abroad to U.S. citizen parent(s) and acquired citizenship at birth. It is not a birth certificate.

If you are a U.S. citizen and have a child overseas, you should report their birth at the nearest  U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as possible so that a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) can be issued as an official record of the child’s claim to U.S. citizenship or nationality. Persons over the age of 18 might still have a claim to U.S. citizenship but are not eligible for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad. Read more

Yes, there is.  Children under 18, born to U.S. citizens who are not eligible for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) may be eligible for U.S. citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. Read more

Adopted children are not eligible for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA). Adoption by a U.S. citizen parent does not automatically confer citizenship, but it does qualify a child for expeditious naturalization, or citizenship upon entry into the United States. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA), codified as Sections 320 and 322 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (INA), addresses U.S. citizenship for children born abroad, including adoptees. Read more

U.S. law does not require a person to choose one nationality or another at any age, if both nationalities were acquired at birth. A U.S. citizen may naturalize in a foreign state without necessarily putting his or her U.S. citizenship at risk, provided that the non-U.S. country does not require it.

No. All children, including babies, must have their own passport.

Yes. All children under the age of 18 are required to appear in person for all passport services. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by both parents. An appointment will be required. Read more

Yes, the consent of both parents/legal guardians is required, even if one parent is not a U.S. citizen. Read more

If one parent/guardian cannot go with the child to apply for the passport, they can give permission by completing Form DS-3053 Statement of Consent.You must submit the completed form with the child’s passport application. The parent that cannot go with the child must:

  • Sign and date Form DS-3053 in the presence of a certified notary public, and
  • Submit a photocopy of the front and back side of the ID that they present to the notary public with Form DS-3053.

Each case is different and will be assessed by one of our consular officers. We recommend that you provide as much documentation as possible showing that you have made a “good faith effort” to contact your child’s parent through all available channels (family members, mutual friends, last known employer, divorce lawyer/solicitor, etc.). It may be necessary for you to obtain a court order giving you sole custody or permission to apply for a U.S. passport for the child without the other parent’s consent.

A parent or legal guardian may sign the passport if the child is too young to sign his or her own name. To do so, a parent or legal guardian must print the child’s name and sign his or her own name in the space provided for the signature. The parent or legal guardian must also write his or her relationship to the child in parenthesis next to the signature (e.g., parent or legal guardian) so we know who signed for the child.

If a child (under the age of 18) is traveling with only one parent or with someone who is not a parent or legal guardian, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) strongly recommends that the accompanying adult have a note from the non-traveling parent (or, in the case of a child traveling with neither parent, a note signed by both parents) stating “I acknowledge that my wife/husband/etc. is traveling out of the country with my son/daughter/group. He/She/They has/have my/our permission to do so.”

CBP suggests that this note be notarized.  If there is no second parent with legal custody of the child (e.g., the second parent is deceased, one parent has sole custody, etc.), relevant paperwork such as a court decision, birth certificate naming only one parent, death certificate, etc., would be useful as well.

While CBP may not ask to see this documentation when the child enters the United States, the United States is very sensitive to the possibility of child abduction and trafficking, and the child and accompanying adult could be detained if questions arise about the situation.  While the United States does not require this documentation, many other countries do, and onward travel could be impeded without a notarized permission letter and/or other documentation.  (Canada, for example, has very strict requirements in this regard).

This advice applies to U.S. citizens and non-citizens alike.  More information can be found on the Customs and Border Protection website.

If you are a resident of Germany and fear that your U.S. citizen child might be taken abroad by the other parent without the mutual consent of both parents, the child’s name can be entered into the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP). The CPIAP is a service for the parents and legal guardians of minor children. It enables the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues to notify a parent or legal guardian, when requested, before a U.S. passport is issued to that parent or legal guardian’s child. The parent, legal guardian, legal representative, or the court of competent jurisdiction must submit a written request for entry of a child’s name into the program, as well as supporting documents.