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.