How I Filed a USA Passport for my Baby Born in China

In china business, family friends, usa by Michael Michelini11 Comments

miles-passportBeen pretty actively getting questions, comments, and phone calls from friends about how I filed a USA passport for my 2 week old son that was born in China.  While my baby was born in China, this process is the same for anywhere outside of the United States of America.

It’s a rather straight forward process.  The main thing to keep in mind is, what nationality do you want your newborn baby to be?  If my son had been born in Hong Kong, he could have been both Hong Kong and USA.  But by being in China, he could not be dual citizen in China and USA – as China will not allow anyone to hold more than 1 passport.

So we had to choose between USA or China citizenship.

We choose USA.  My wife isn’t a local Shenzhen resident anyway, so the education in local schools would be almost the full price as if he were a foreign or American baby – (she is from Shenyang city in the north – and each region has different tax benefits / costs for education and other perks)

Once decided, the US embassy is where you need to go, Guangzhou’s is the one for us – as Miles was born in Shenzhen, China and that falls under Guangzhou’s American embassy.  (But to be honest, for me personally, I normally go to the American embassy in Hong Kong, but for this situation, had to take the trip to Guangzhou – Hong Kong is much more convenient for me and most in Shenzhen).

The website is pretty clear, but it is a bit daunting, I will reference it here, but also discuss my “story” to be a less overwhelming and “technical” government feel.

What I needed to get started filing a USA passport

  • Birth certificate from the hospital he was born
  • Both Parents to go to the Embassy
  • Baby to go the the Embassy (I was able to get this waived as my child was in intensive care and we had a doctor’s note)
  • Marriage certificate
  • My USA passport
  • My wife’s Chinese identification card
  • Passport photo –  2 inches by 2 inches, white background, eyes opened, facing the camera
  • Fee: $105usd for a new US passport.  (can pay in US dollars or Chinese Yuan RMB)

Step 1: Please read the instructions below
Step 2: Please make an appointment online(If you need more than one service during your visit, please be sure to make separate appointments.)
Step 3: Please complete U.S. Passport Application Form DS-11
full website with directions and detailed FAQ go to –

But then I learned about another document…a COBA (certificate of birth abroad) see below

COBA – Certificate of Birth Abroad

My friends call it COBA – it’s easier to remember for me than CRBA – but technically the definition and acronym below is:
What Is A Consular Report of Birth Abroad? A Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) is evidence of United States citizenship, issued to a child born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent or parents who meet the requirements for transmitting citizenship under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Complete Consular Report of Birth Abroad application: Form DS-2029

Fee. The application fee for Consular Reports of Birth Abroad is USD$100.00.

How long does it take?  About 2 weeks.

So I filed a USA passport and COBA at the same time

I printed out both of the forms and filed at the same time.  Seemed to work just fine.  May as well take care of 2 birds with 1 stone, right?

Total fees were $205 us dollars.    Waiting time is 2 weeks.

I got a receipt of payment, as well as an authorization form to grant a friend / someone I trust to pick up the passport and/or COBA at the embassy if I couldn’t do it myself.  They will not mail it – it must be picked up.

Another note – you do not need to file a US passport right away – but the child cannot leave China / that country if an emergency (medical, political, etc) so I feel more comfortable to get it ASAP.

Hope this is helpful. And hope some comments below share some ideas and insights I may have missed.

I’ll try to keep this up to date.

  • noah johnson

    hi mike! thanks so much for this information! Very helpful! How long did it take to process your baby’s passport and have it in your hand from the time you submitted the application?

  • Glad you enjoyed the article Noah

    Well I had a special circumstances a my baby was in ICU, so it was a couple days as I had doctor note for emergency situation

    Normally it is two weeks

  • Mike

    Thanks for the info.

  • Sure,
    Hope it helps you out!

  • Max

    Will have to do the same for mine when it’s here in June/July. I’m in Frankfurt, Germany, though. Looks like you got an emergency or temporary passport (the bio page is different from the regular one, and it’s only valid for a year).

  • Good luck and keep me posted on it!

    Yes, mine was the emergency one, didn’t know there was a visible difference in it though

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  • Matt in Beijing

    There is a section on the CRBA form having the parents list the precise dates they were in the USA. As I have been in the USA sporadically throughout my life, this section proves lengthy. Did you fill out exact dates for the times you were in the USA or did you fill in general dates?

  • Hi Matt,

    Thanks for reading and commenting. Well I vaguely remember this, and I answered it that I lived in USA until I moved to china in end of 2007 and that worked

    Hope this helps you out


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  • Tim in Zhongshan

    Hello, I have a questions, My baby was also born in China. She have received her US passport and CRBA already. I was told that I have to get some sort of proof stamp or visa on her passport before she can leave China from the Public Security Bureau Aliens Administration Section. Do you know or have any info about this? And how to go about doing this?

  • Hi Tim

    I just did this for my baby girl – I went to the same place I got my work permit and showed them my work permit and then she was added as a dependent under me. hope this helps?

  • Anthony Davis

    Do you have to be married to apply for the U.S. Passport for your child?