Getting a US Passport and SSN for Children Born Abroad

February 16, 2022 | | 4 minute read
Expat Tax Blog. Tax Tips for US Americans abroad.

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A toddler stands at the airport looking down at airplanes below. How to get a US Passport and Social Security Number for your child born abroad.

Having children is one of the most exciting times of most parents’ lives. Planning the nursery, picking out names, and that overall anticipation for the future. But what American expats also anticipate, perhaps even better than most, is that with any significant change comes plenty of paperwork to fill out. American parents, you’ll want to get a US Passport and Social Security Number for your child born abroad. Having both will offer several benefits.

While we can’t promise the process will be completely painless, we always hope to help make things as simple as possible for our fellow Americans abroad.

If you’re an American living outside the US, make sure your child has all the benefits and security of a US Passport and US Social Security Number. Oh, and you could receive some perks too! Such as benefits in the form of money-saving tax breaks or even refunds.

1. How to get a US Passport for Children born abroad

  • Locate your local Consulate or Embassy. 
  • Learn how they are accepting applications. 
    • Due to issues relating to the coronavirus, some require mail-in-only applications, while others allow in-person applications.
  • Report the birth as soon as possible to the nearest US embassy or consulate.

EXPAT TAX TIP: The CRBA is your proof of US citizenship for your child. You will need this when you apply for their US passport.

  • Take a Passport photo. The photo should be standard US passport size. Be careful because other sizes, like European sizes, are not the same.
  • Bring or submit an original or certified copy of the child’s proof of citizenship. In this case, it will be your CRBA.
  • Bring or submit an original or certified copy of one of the parent’s proofs of citizenship. Again, this will most likely be your name featured on the CRBA.

2. How to get a US Social Security Number for your child born abroad

  • Assemble your application documents. You will need certified copies of:
    • The child’s birth certificate / consular report of birth abroad
    • The child’s US Passport – Yup, this comes first. Scroll back up if you skipped past that section already.
    • Parent’s SSNs (when applicable – at least 1)
  • Locate your local Social Security Administration office. Probably will be the same as when you got them their passport, probably.
  • Find out how they are accepting applications. Depending on when you applied for your child’s passport, this could have changed.
  • Submit the paperwork and wait. Yup! As we mentioned earlier, there could be a long wait right now. But it will be on the way – normally within 3-6 months so plan accordinly!
    • If you need your child’s SSN in order to claim a credit using the Additional Child Tax Credit or a stimulus payment, now is a good time to request an extenstion!

Delays in Processing SSN and Passport Applications Abroad

Getting a US Passport or SSN for your child born abroad seems tougher these days. Due, in part, to problems associated with the Coronavirus pandemic, some expats are reporting delays in processing their children’s SSN or Passport applications. Additionally, some parents who have applied for documents for previous children in the past find the process they used before has changed. So be sure to check closely what your local US Embassy or Consulate requires.

For example, the Social Security Administration website for Germany provides this notification:

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Due to public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Germany, operations in the Federal Benefits Unit may be limited. The service limitations include the suspension or limitation of public phone service and all in-office appointments until further notice. Please send an email to FBU.Frankfurt@SSA.gov

Meanwhile, in Slovenia, the website of the US Embassy there says:

Applying for a Social Security Number The Federal Benefits office at our US Embassy in Rome can assist with applications for a social security number (SSN). You would need to provide them via mail a completed SS-5 Application for a Social Security Card (PDF 233 KB)…..The US Embassy in Ljubljana can provide these certified copies for free; simply make an appointment for a Notarial Service

Because you might need more time to receive your child’s Social Security Number, it’s a good idea to apply for an extension. The extension gives you the extra time you need to file your taxes if you plan to receive a refund from Child Tax Credits. You can request the extension within the MyExpatTaxes.com platform.

Why apply for a passport or SSN for your child born abroad?

Travel. An American passport allows easy travel to over 180 countries without a visa. In 2022, the US Passport was ranked 6th by Henley & Partners. They provide rankings of passports based on access to various countries. 

Work. If your children are still young, it may be hard to imagine now, but they will be out in the working world one day. And what better opportunity to find work than the world’s largest economy. As a passport and SSN holder, they are legally eligible to work anywhere in the United States.

Tax Credits. For American parents to be eligible to receive refundable child tax credits for their children, the children must have a valid SSN. And, of course, to get an SSN, they will first need a US Passport.

Stimulus Payments. Yup! Just like with child tax credits, if you or your children hope to receive potential stimulus payments, now or in the future, they’re going to need to have an SSN.

Hold public office. Hey, who knows? Maybe your child will see themselves as a future state Governor. Sure, if they’re born overseas, they aren’t eligible to be US President. Still, for many other positions, only US citizenship is required. 

Downsides to US Citizenship

Taxes. All US Citizens are required to file a tax return annually. Yes, even if they have never lived in the United States. If your child is a US citizen, born overseas but never lives in America, they still have to file a tax return with the IRS if they meet the filing income thresholds, whether or not they have a US SSN. However, they will need to get a US SSN to file taxes.

Expat Tax Tip: Once your child is grown, they will need an SSN to file their own US taxes. Do them a favor now, and request it early, so they won’t have to do it later.

Jury Duty. Let’s say your child grows up and moves to America for school or work or any other reason. If they live in the United States and are a US citizen, they could be called for Jury Duty. Don’t live in the United States? Then there is no problem here. To be a juror, one must live in the jurisdiction of the court. 

Learn more about the benefits of US Citizenship for Children born abroad

Now that you’re on your way to having a passport and SSN for your child born abroad, you can reap all the sweet, sweet, tax benefits. There are a lot of opportunities this year for parents to save on their 2021 tax return and even receive a refund back. We’ve outlined 15 things parents need to know about Child Tax Credits in our blog.

Want to know how much you could receive in Child Tax Credits as an American abroad? Our FREE Child Tax Credit Calculator will help you identify how much you could qualify for.

Written by Ellen M

February 16, 2022 | | 4 minute read

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