Foreign Birth and Death Certificates
- Birth records of persons born in foreign countries who are U.S. citizens
- Birth records of alien children adopted by U.S. citizens
- Certificate of citizenship
- Death and marriage records of U.S citizens that occurred in foreign country
- Records of birth and death occurring on vessels or aircraft on the high seas
- Records maintained by foreign countries
- Records of birth, death, and marriage in the Panama Canal Zone for U.S. citizens and foreign nationals
The birth of a child abroad to U.S. citizen parent(s) should be reported to the nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy as soon after the birth as possible. To do this, the child's parent or legal guardian should file an Application for Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America (Form FS-579/SS-5). This form may also be used to apply for a Social Security Number for the child. A $100.00 fee is charged for reporting the birth.
The application must be supported by evidence to establish the child's U.S. citizenship. Usually, the following documents are needed:
- The child's birth certificate;
- Evidence of the U.S. citizenship of the parent(s) such as a certified copy of a birth certificate, U.S. passport, or Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship;
- Evidence of the parents' marriage, if applicable; and
- Affidavit(s) of the physical presence of the parent(s) in the United States.
Each document should be certified as a true copy of the original by the registrar of the office that issued the document. Other documents may be needed in some cases. Contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for details on what evidence is needed.
When the application is approved, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America (Form FS-240) is given to the applicant. This document, known as the Consular Report of Birth, has the same value as proof of citizenship as the Certificate of Citizenship issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
A Consular Report of Birth can be prepared only at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas, and only if the person who is the subject of the report is under 18 years of age when the application is made. A person residing abroad who is now 18 years of age or over, and whose claim to U.S. citizenship has never been documented, should contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance in registering as a U.S. citizen.
The Department began issuing a new consular Report of Birth on January 3, 2011. You may request multiple copies of this document at any time. As of December 31, 2010 the Certificate of Report of Birth Abroad (DS-1350) is no longer issued. All previously issued FS-240 and DS-1350 documents are still valid for proof of identity, citizenship and other legal purposes.
Documents are issued only to the subject of the Consular Report of Birth, the subject's parents or legal guardian. Effective September 1, 2003 all requests must be notarized and include a copy of the requester's valid photo identification.
To request multiple copies of FS-240, write to Passport Services, Vital Records Section, U.S. Department of State, 1111 19th Street NW, Suite 510, Washington, DC 20036. Please include the following items:
- The full name of the child at birth (and any adoptive name);
- The date and place of birth;
- The names of the parents;
- The serial number of the FS-240 (if the FS-240 was issued after November 1, 1990);
- Any available passport information;
- The signature of the requestor and the requestor's relationship to the subject;
- A check or money order for $50.00 for the FS-240 made payable to the U.S. Department of State; Remittance must be payable in U.S. dollars through a U.S. Bank. Do Not Send Cash
To obtain a Consular Report of Birth in a new name, send a written request and fees as noted above, the original (or replacement) Consular Report of Birth, or if not available, a notarized affidavit about its whereabouts. Also, send a certified copy of the court order or final adoption decree which identifies the child and shows the change of name with the request. If the name has been changed informally, submit public records and affidavits that show the change of name.
Birth certifications for alien children adopted by U.S. citizens and lawfully admitted to the United States may be obtained from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) if the birth information is on file. (Address can be found in a telephone directory.) To obtain the birth data, it is necessary to provide the Immigration Office with proof of adoption or legitimation.
Persons who were born abroad and later naturalized as U.S. citizens or who were born in a foreign country to a U.S. citizen (parent or parents) may apply for a certificate of citizenship pursuant to the provisions of Section 341 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Application can be made for this document in the United States at the nearest office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The INS will issue a certification of citizenship for the person if proof of citizenship is submitted and the person is within the United States. The decision whether to apply for a certificate of citizenship is optional; its possession is not mandatory because a valid U.S. passport or a Form FS-240 has the same evidentiary status.
The death of a U.S. citizen in a foreign country may be reported to the nearest U.S. consular office. If reported, and a copy of the local death certificate and evidence of U.S. citizenship are presented, the consul prepares the official Report of the Death of an American Citizen Abroad' (Form OF-180). A copy of the Report of Death is then filed permanently in the U.S. Department of State (see exceptions below).
To obtain a copy of a report filed in 1975 or after, write to Passport Services, Vital Records Section, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20036. The fee for a copy is $50.00 per document. Please include a notarized request to include a picture ID. Fee may be subject to change.
Reports of Death filed before 1975 are maintained by the National Archives and Records Service, Diplomatic Records Branch, Washington, DC 20408. Requests for such records should be sent directly to that office.
Reports of deaths of persons serving in the Armed Forces of the United States (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast Guard) or civilian employees of the Department of Defense are not maintained by the U.S. Department of State. In these cases, requests for copies of records should be sent to the National Personnel Records Center (Military Personnel Records), 9700 Page Ave., St. Louis, Missouri 63132-5100.
To obtain a copy of a Certificate of Witness to Marriage (FS-87) you may write to the address above, the fee is $50.00 per document. As of November 9, 1989 a Consular Officer no longer served as a witness to marriages performed abroad. Persons married abroad after 1989 may contact the embassy or consulate of the country where the marriage was performed for a certified copy. Foreign marriage documents are not maintained by the Department.
When a birth or death occurs on the high seas, whether in an aircraft or on a vessel, the record is usually filed at the next port of call.
- If the vessel or aircraft docked or landed at a foreign port, requests for copies of the record may be made to the U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20036.
- If the first port of entry was in the United States, write to the registration authority in the city where the vessel or aircraft docked or landed in the United States.
- If the vessel was of U.S. registry, contact the local authorities at the port of entry and/or search the vessel logs at the U.S. Coast Guard Facility at the vessel's final port of call for that voyage.
Most, but not all, foreign countries record births and deaths. It is not possible to list in this publication all foreign vital records offices, the charges they make for copies of records, or the information they may require to locate a record. However, most foreign countries will provide certifications of births and deaths occurring within their boundaries.
Persons who need a copy of a foreign birth or death record should contact the Embassy or the nearest Consulate in the U.S. of the country in which the death occurred. Addresses and telephone numbers for these offices are listed in the U.S. Department of State Publication 7846, Foreign Consular Offices in the United States, which is available in many local libraries. Copies of this publication may also be purchased from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.
If the Embassy or Consulate is unable to provide assistance, U.S. citizens may obtain assistance by writing to the Office of Overseas Citizens Services, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-4818. Aliens residing in the United States may be able to obtain assistance through the Embassy or Consulate of their country of nationality.
Records of birth, death, and marriage in the Panama Canal Zone for U.S. citizens and foreign nationals
From 1904 until 1979, the Canal Zone Government registered all civil acts of birth, death, and marriage in the Canal Zone for U.S. citizens and foreign nationals. Since 1979, the Panama Canal Commission has issued certified copies of these documents in response to requests from the public. On December 31, 1999, the Panama Canal Commission ceased to exist . On December 1, 1999, those records were transferred to Passport Services in the U.S. Department of State, which will provide the certification service just as it does for similar records issued by U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad.
To request copies, write to Vital Records Section, Passport Services, U.S. Department of State, 1111 19th Street NW, Suite 510, Washington, DC 20036. Please include the following items for birth and death:
- The full name of subject at the time of event;
- Month, day and year of event;
- Place of event (city and country);
- Parents' names, date and place of birth, and nationality for birth record;
- Any available U.S. passport information;
- Signature of the requestor, parent or guardian, or legal representative;
- Requestor address and telephone number;
- A check or money order for $50.00 for each copy made payable to U.S. Department of State. Remittance must be payable in U.S. dollars through a U.S. bank. Do not send cash.
- Marriage records from the Canal Zone issued 1904-1979 were forwarded to the National Archivesand Records Administration (NARA) instead. You may submit a request to Civilian records (NWCTC), Textual Archives Services Division, 8601 Adelphia Road, College Park, MD 20704-6001 for a copy. Do not send any money with your request. If any fees are required, you will be contacted by NARA.