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/