Monday, May 28, 2012

Reporting Birth Abroad

Having a baby in a foreign country - in Germany anyway - involves much paper work.  Before leaving the  St.Marienkrankenhaus hospital after Hannah was born the hospital registration office sent in all the paperwork to the city of Frankfurt including our passports, marriage certificate and birth certificates.  This initial step at the beginning of the paperwork process was super easy.  I requested two official (stamped) copies each of Hannah's birth certificate and report of birth abroad - in total costing about 35 euros.

Approximately one week later I picked up all of our original documents and her birth certificates, which made it very easy as I did not have to go the city and navigate the process with my elementary German.  There they gave me a listing of all the other information and offices for Kindergeld, Elterngeld, Mutterschaftshilfe, Religiöse Zwecke, and Meldebehörde - more on these later.

The next step was reporting birth abroad with the US Consulate, applying for a social security number and a US passport.  As we are both US Citizens, Hannah has US Citizenship and passport - not dual.  In order to have dual citizenship at least one of the parents needs to be a German citizen.

US Passport picture and requirements are the same for babies as adults.  So I was very nervous about getting her passport photo taken and meeting the requirements.  Fortunately, my dread was unnecessary!  The neighborhood photo shop were we had our biometric pictures taken was perfectly prepared for VISA/passport pictures for babies.  The photographer had a white pillow to lay Hannah on and I was able to capture her attention long enough to hold her head straight and he snapped the picture.  So for 10 euros, no pain or problems we had four copies of a sufficient picture.

Once we had the passport picture and completed the required paper work I made the appointment at the consulate. You must have an appoint to enter the US Consulate in Frankfurt, which is done online through their website.  The appointment gadget on the web page is somewhat frustrating and required daily checking to see if appointments had opened up, but finally booked an appointment two or three weeks in advance.

We arrived at the consulate early (because there is always a line) with every document that they might ask for and copies of those documents just in case.  What they required - originals only;
-parents passports
-marriage certificate
-parents birth certificates
-child's German birth certificate
-divorce decree of any previous marriages
-CASH as the credit card machine may not be working

***A prepaid, self addressed, DHL envelope was required, however the website does not indicate this part, but I received an email a few days before with the information.  Some people never got the information and were thus running out to get the envelopes, which also meant going through security again.

Both couples ahead of us were missing documents - proof that they lived in the US even though they were US citizens - in each case the wife was American and the husband was German.   I think because they were married to German citizens they had to prove they lived inside the US with college transcripts, past taxes, or any qualifying document listed on the website.  As we are both US citizens we did not have to prove living in the US, I am not sure how they decide if you need to show proof or not.

Once in the consulate we only had to wait about 20 minutes and then our number was called.  Reporting Hannah's birth and applying for her passport were easier than anticipated.  I can not stress reading through the website to make sure you have all the necessary documents.  The whole process took about a half hour.  Did I mention that everyone was really nice.  Hannah's passport and American birth certificate arrived about two-three weeks later!

Applying for a social security number was super easy.  The Social Security office is in the same building just down the hall, but they have short hours.  The whole process there took about 10 minutes at most.

More on the German side of paper work tomorrow......