My baby is two months old and he has already had the pleasure of visiting Urząd Wojewódzki in Katowice (twice), ZUS, Urząd Miasta in Gliwice and Tarnowskie Góry, and now the American Consulate in Kraków to get his American citizenship. Luckily for him, he has dual citizenship, so he won’t have to go through the hell I’ve had to go through being an immigrant.
If your baby is lucky enough to be born with parents from two different countries, they can generally have citizenship in both, depending on the laws in those places. In America, you’re considered a citizen if either you were born in America or your parents are citizens. In Poland, your parents have to be citizens in order to have citizenship. So that means if two Americans have a baby in Poland, their baby will only have American citizenship. So how can you obtain American citizenship for your baby if you’re American and he or she was born in Poland? Well, just a few rather simple procedures.
First things first, each of these things requires a trip to either the embassy or consulate. For me, it’s the consulate in Kraków, which is closer than Warsaw. Remember that in order to report the birth or get a passport for your child at the American embassy or consulate, both parents must be present.
Get together the necessary paperwork.
You need a lot of documents in order to do this. That’s always the case, isn’t it? But comparing to getting residency in Poland, the amount of docs you need is pretty small, so for me this process was like nothing. Just another day in the bureaucratic nightmare that is my life. Below is a list of required documents first for reporting the birth of your child in America and second for obtaining an American passport for your baby.
Reporting your baby’s birth.
- Completed (but not signed) Consular Report of Birth Abroad application – DS-2029
- Passport of the parent who’s an American citizen
- Child’s birth certificate – original full version (odpis zupełny aktu urodzenia) and a certified English translation, if necessary
- Parents’ original marriage certificate, if applicable, and a certified English translation, if not in English
- Evidence of physical presence in America. This means proof that the American citizen lived in the States for at least 5 years after age 14. So you can provide school transcripts as evidence or tax returns, that kind of thing.
- 100 USD
Getting an American passport for your baby.
Luckily you can do this on the same day as the birth report so you don’t have to go back again.
- Completed passport application form DS-11
- Consular Report of the Birth Abroad
- Passport of the parent who’s an American citizen
- Picture of the baby with the correct dimensions, 2 x 2 inches or 51 x 51 mm
- 105 USD – you get a $5 discount for children haha
Getting a passport picture for your baby is bit ridiculous, but you have to do it. Just go to one of those picture taking places, hold your baby on your lap, and they’ll snap the picture but edit you out of the background. The passport is valid for 5 years and the question is how it’s possible that our baby will the same picture from 7 weeks of age to 5 years on his passport? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of the picture? I mean they’ll be able to tell it’s him for the first trip and then after that? He’ll look totally different!
Make an appointment with the American embassy or consulate.
According to the website, it appears that you can make an appointment online, but that is apparently not the case. Go figure. When you go to click on a date, nothing is clickable, causing great confusion. Call the embassy or consulate and they’ll tell you they have a new procedure since last year requiring you to call and make an appointment. So what you need to do is call them, get their email address, send a .pdf of all the required documents, and then they will call you to set up the appointment. Generally, U.S. citizen services are from 1-3 pm every day.
The nice thing is that at the consulate they treat you the ways Americans treat each other. They smile, they’re polite and they don’t tell you to come back if you happened to forget one paper. Most of the people who work there are Poles who of course also speak English so there’s no need to worry about that. One weird thing is that my husband and I had to raise our right hands and swear that all the information we provided that day was true, so that was a surprise.
Overall, everything went smoothly and we managed to successfully apply for both the Consular Report of Birth Abroad and the passport for our baby – that’s more than I can say for my applications in Poland when I usually have to go back multiple times because I “forgot” a necessary document that I never even knew I needed. So it was relatively pain free and we’ll get the passport after 2 weeks only! I think that might be quicker than in the States even.
If you have any questions about this process or any other bureaucratic issue for Americans in Poland, please feel free to ask in the comments or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.