Is my Newborn a U.S. Citizen?

We get questions every now and then from parents of newborns about the citizenship status of their child born at a U.S. military hospital in Korea: Does he/she automatically acquire U.S. citizenship? Or what if a child is born on the grounds of the US Embassy? In other words, by virtue of being born on a U.S. military base, or at the U.S. Embassy, are they essentially born in the U.S.?

According to the U.S. State Department Foreign Affairs Manual (7 FAM 1113), a U.S. military base outside the U.S. or a U.S. Embassy/Consulate is not considered U.S. territory, so someone who is born there is not considered to have been born in the U.S.

There are two ways one can acquire U.S. citizenship: 1) based on a common law principle of “Jus soli,” (the law of the soil), where the place of a person’s birth determines citizenship, or 2) under “Jus sanguinis” (the law of the bloodline), a concept of Roman or civil law under which a person’s citizenship is determined by the citizenship of one or both parents.

Parents who give birth in Korea, whether on base or off, are encouraged to apply for their newborn’s Consular Report of Birth Abroad as soon as possible at: https://kr.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/birth. The same site also allows you to apply for your child’s first passport and Social Security number.

If you were born in the U.S., the state or territory where you were born would issue a birth certificate, which is proof of U.S. citizenship. If you wish to order a replacement copy, see the Centers for Disease Control- Vital Records link to find the state or territory contact information: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w.htm.

Your birth certificate is a document that can be used to apply for a U.S. passport at: https://kr.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/passports/

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3 responses to “Is my Newborn a U.S. Citizen?

  1. Hi.

    I was wondering, given your extensive knowledge in this area, if you could direct me as to where to go to get a copy of a birth certificate for a citizen born on US Military base near Seoul South Korea? I haven’t been able to find anything helpful, myself.

    Thank you for your time.

    Sincerely,
    Amy

    • Thank you for your inquiry.

      Generally, parents of children born at a military hospital would have applied for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul.

      It is our understanding that the military hospital on Yongsan Army Garrison, while it keeps a running log of live births (going back at least 15-20 years), the hospital shreds copies of the birth certificate after two years. We have no information about other military hospitals in South Korea.

      To order a replacement copy of the Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA), please refer to the following website provided by the Department of State: http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/first/first_825.html

      We trust this information will be of assistance to you. Please contact us if you have other questions or concerns. Thank you.

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