Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How to get a US passport for an American baby born in Sharjah, UAE

Here's how to obtain a US passport for an American baby born in Sharjah, UAE. Some of this may apply to other emirates, but I can't guarantee it.

First, have your baby. When you leave the hospital, they will give you a Report of Birth. This is not a birth certificate. But you must have the Report of Birth in order to obtain the birth certificate. Don't be worried if you haven't chosen a name before you leave the hospital - they will just leave the name field blank. Just be sure to fill it in before you submit it.

Because next, submit the Report of Birth at your local center of bureaucracy. In our case, this was the Sharjah Department of Preventive Medicine. Hand over the Report of Birth, Emirates IDs for both parents, passports for both parents, and an attested marriage certificate, plus 50 dhs. Maybe the marriage certificate has to have been attested by the UAE Foreign Ministry in addition to the US government. But maybe not. They didn't ask to have ours attested.

The people at the Sharjah Dept of Preventive Medicine will say they'll call you in two days when the birth certificate is ready...but they won't. So just go back after a few days and they'll finish it up while you wait.

Then, you take the birth certificate to the Sharjah Ministry of Foreign Affairs so it can be attested. It costs 160 dhs to have it done while you wait.

That is the end of the process for the birth certificate, but you can't stop there because even babies need visas to live in the UAE legally.

So make an appointment with the US Consulate in Dubai in order to obtain a Consular Report of Birth Abroad. You can apply for a passport at the same time, so fill out both applications and make sure you gather all the necessary documents. The necessary documents depend on whether both parents are US citizens or only one. The instructions on the linked page (above) are pretty clear, so just do what they say and you should be fine.The burden of proof for Jeremy and me was pretty light since we are both citizens, but be prepared to show evidence of having lived in the US.

When it's time for your appointment at the consulate, bring all your documents, both of yourselves, and the baby to appear in person. At the little number-taking kiosk, do NOT press the "infants" button, because they will never call that number. We know because we pressed the "infants" button to get our queue ticket (wouldn't you, if you were there to obtain a passport for your infant?) and then sat down and watched every single person who came to the consulate after us have their turn come up. Finally, Jeremy asked an employee why it wasn't our turn yet, and he said, "oh, don't press the 'infants' button." He then pressed the "US Citizen" button and we didn't have to wait too much longer.

Might I just ask: why do they even HAVE the "infants" button??

When it's your turn, hand over the documents they ask for to meet the requirements of both the CRBA and the passport. Pay the fee (about 750dhs) at the cashier and then wait for them to call you up to sign the papers. Then you're done! Until it's time to pick up the passport in a week or two.

The passport isn't the end of the process, either. Once you have it, you need to apply for a UAE visa for the baby. My friend Yvonne says there is a 60-day time limit to do this without a penalty fee, so it's in your best interest to hurry along this whole process as much as possible.

Once you have the visa, apply for an Emirates ID.

Then, I think you're really least until all this stuff starts expiring!

Oh, of course, to apply for a passport, you need two passport photos. We tried and tried to get a good one of Sterling over the past three weeks. It's harder than you might think to get a passport picture of a newborn (even if you think it's pretty hard). Here are some of the fails:

But here is the success!

I'm looking forward to every single border crossing from now until this passport expires. The official at the consulate told us as we were leaving that he loved this photo. I concur. It may be the finest passport picture ever taken. I can't stop laughing at it.

And that's how you get a US passport for an American baby born in Sharjah, UAE.


Liz Johnson said...

THAT PICTURE. They will let him in every country no matter what because that is so insanely awesome. I love it. So much.


In other news - man I'm grateful for the (basically nonexistent) paperwork process for having a US citizen inside the US.

Susanne said...


Ariana said...

I just snarked my yogurt looking at that passport picture. TOTALLY AWESOME.

karina said...

Our friends had a similar picture for their son - eyes big and round, mouth open and round. Really funny. As we entered each country the passport official would take one look and laugh, say cute Arabic things to the little guy and be so nice to them. Then when we came through next he'd have to be extra gruff to offset the friendly moment. So, enjoy - you may want to plan in extra border crossings!

Jen said...

LOVE IT. In the history of the world, there has never been a better passport photo.

When we had Blake at home, the process of getting the birth certificate was a tiny bit hairy...but nothing compared to birthing abroad. (Our town does not have a hospital, so when we arrived at city hall to get a birth certificate THEY WERE SO CONFUSED.)

elliespen said...

Not only will border crossings be much more fun now, but you can also pull it out again in 16-18 years to show off to his prom date. I love it!

Ariana said...

Reminds me a bit of this:

Sarah Cook said...

Hahaha!! How cute! But what a headache to get a birth certificate!

Bridget said...

Yes, I swear I remember in Middlebury that THEY brought ME all the birth certificate/SS paperwork and I completed it there in the hospital bed, and they took it away and possibly mailed it all for me?? Easy peasy.

Bridget said...

Well that's just hilarious!


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