Born in the U.S.A.: Newborn birth certificate and passport

Sounds like a Bruce Springsteen song but it can be your story.

Born in the USA - Cover Album - Bruce Springsteen

Born in the USA – Cover Album – Bruce Springsteen

Born in the USA – Cover Album – Bruce Springsteen

Let’s figure out the situation… You’re probably an expat living in the San Francisco Bay Area, maybe working at Stanford University… or Google… or Facebook… You or your partner get pregnant during your American stay, and you plan to deliver in one of the Bay area hospitals. So far so good, but do you know how to get an American birth certificate, how to get your little one a U.S. passport to fly back home and be a star?

The U.S. birth certificate

This is quite easy. Once you’ve delivered, one of the hospital’s nurses will give you some papers to fill in. One of these will be for the birth certificate. The birth certificate is automatically done and the hospital transfers your child’s information to the county where she/he is born. Basically, you have nothing to do but to expect to receive a confirmation that the certificate is ready to pick up.

My son was born at Stanford, Santa Clara County. It took approximatively 4 to 6 weeks after his birth date to get it ready. As I needed it quickly in order to do the passport (we were flying back to France), I went to the Santa Clara County office to pay the fees ($21) and pick it up.

The passport

Obtaining a passport is a 9 step process. It’s easy but time-consuming and expensive. Remember that a child must have its own passport to travel internationally by air.

First thing to know, prior to submit your child’s passport application, you must have her/his Evidence of U.S. Citizenship (Birth certificate). This inevitable time lag between the birth and the birth certificate delivery is going to seem lasting forever if you’re in a hurry. But don’t worry, eventually everything will be just fine!

Then, you have to make an appointment in a post office that handles passport applications. Here you can find the nearest facility to apply.

The day of your appointment, make sure to bring the following pieces with you:

  • Your child! Yes, your child has to be here and the post officer will make him/her swear! Obviously, our child was 2 month-old at this time so it was not easy for him. The parents – we – had to swear for him that all the information was correct. We raise our right hand and said “I swear”. Amazing experience for us.
  • Complete Form DS-11: Application For A U.S. Passport
  • Child’s Evidence of U.S. Citizenship
  • Evidence of Relationship Between Child and Parent(s)/Guardian(s)
  • Identification of Parent(s)/Guardian(s) > you need to have your American Driver License + A Photocopy of Each Parent/Guardian ID Document To Be Presented
  • Parental Consent
  • Pay the Applicable Fee ($135 for a baby in 2012)
  • One Passport Photo

I have to tell that making the baby’s passport photograph was the funniest part of the whole application process. Meeting the official requirements with a newborn isn’t that easy, especially getting the open eyes and neutral face… But still, the photograph as to be a passport style photograph. My tip to do it. I took a pic of my son laying on a white sheet. I went to Walgreens to print it in the passport size – they have the machine and they scale it for you.

One thing to know. The obtention will be fastest if your child has a SSN. To have this number in the early days of your baby’s life, you have to ask for it right at the clinic. In contrary to the birth certificate, this is not automatic.

The obtention can take between 4 to 6 weeks in a standard procedure. You can ask and pay for a fastest procedure to get your passport ready in a couple of weeks.

Now your baby’ ready to fly as soon as 3 month-old! 


  • US passport facilities to apply:
  • All in details: Travel State Government



This entry was posted in Kids & baby care and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.