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Thank you for taking the time to weigh in on my situation.

I am an American citizen by birth who now has a baby with a German woman. The baby was born in Phillipines. With official documents, including the Phillipines (NSO/PSA-authorized) Certificate of Live Birth with Apostille from Dept of Foreign Affairs, and German kinderreisse (aka child’s passport), we were able to travel to German.

And so, here we are in Germany.

My partner (out of wedlock) and infant son will travel to USA to meet my parents. They both have German passports, and are prepared to attain an ESTA.

Question 1: is it REQUIRED that my son attain an American passport in order to go to the US?

Question 2: We did not report the birth to US Consulate in Phillipines. As we are now here in Germany, I am considering filing CRBA. I want to know if anybody has experience filing CRBA in a country which the baby was not born. As we are now in the process of attaining a German birth certificate, it seems that it will not be finished before we need to file CRBA. And, of course, we have an official Phillipines birth certificate which we could use to file CRBA. Is this possible to use, the Phillipines birth certificate, rather than the German?

Question 3: if someone is a dual citizen, must they always possess a passport from both countries while traveling internationally?

  • I would guess that it is required to use the Philippines birth certificate, because the child was not born in Germany. But I don't know anythign about getting a CRBA in a country other than the country of birth, or even whether it is possible. Stack Exchange strongly discourages multiple questions per question, as it were, so it would be better if you would delete question 2 from this question and post it separately as a new question. Question 3 is probably closely enough related to question 1 to stay, but you could also post it separately here or at Travel. – phoog Jun 28 at 14:21
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Please see and upvote Eric's helpful answer. I have edited this answer to correct it in light of that information.


Question 1: is it REQUIRED that my son attain an American passport in order to go to the US?

If your son is a US citizen, yes and no. There is a law that makes it "unlawful" for a US citizen to leave or enter the US without a valid US passport; however, there is no penalty for violating the law, and a US citizen cannot be refused entry to the US. There are some anecdotal reports at Travel that people have done this sort of thing before with only a little hassle. If I can find some specific examples I'll edit this answer to add them.

I say if your son is a US citizen, because that will only be the case if you meet the requirements of both 8 USC 1401(g) and 8 USC 1409(a). Section 1401 requires you to have been

physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years

(There is some additional text about including periods spent outside the US in military or government service, or in service to an international organization in which the US participates, such as the UN, as if they were spent inside the US.)

So if you don't meet the physical presence requirement, your son is not a US citizen, and you don't need to worry about getting a US passport. The rest of this answer assumes that you do meet the physical presence requirement

Section 1409 requires

(1) a blood relationship between the person and the father [to be] established by clear and convincing evidence,
(2) the father [to have] had the nationality of the United States at the time of the person’s birth,
(3) the father (unless deceased) [to have] agreed in writing to provide financial support for the person until the person reaches the age of 18 years, and
(4) while the person is under the age of 18 years—
(A) the person [to be] legitimated under the law of the person’s residence or domicile,
(B) the father [to acknowledge] paternity of the person in writing under oath, or
(C) the paternity of the person [to be] established by adjudication of a competent court.

So, unless you have made the written agreement required under number 3, your son is not a US citizen, and, as Eric's answer suggests, you can happily travel to the US with the German passport and ESTA. More information about the requirements for the written agreement may be found in the USCIS Policy Manual at Chapter 3 - United States Citizens at Birth (INA 301 and 309).


Question 2 should be asked separately, so I won't answer it here (also because I do not know the answer).


Question 3: if someone is a dual citizen, must they always possess a passport from both countries while traveling internationally?

No. There will be specific circumstances where some dual citizens will need both passports, but there is no general requirement. For example, I believe Poland has a similar requirement to the US, so a Polish/US dual citizen needs both passports (at least nominally) to travel from Poland to the US or vice versa. Most countries refuse to give visas to their own citizens in foreign passports, so a citizen of two countries that have a mutual visa requirement will need both passports.

For travel that does not involve both countries of nationality, however, only one passport is generally necessary. This can also be true if the country does not require its citizens to use its passport to cross the border. For example, Canada explicitly allows US-Canadian dual citizens to enter Canada with US passports, although it does discourage this. Similarly, a US/German dual citizen can travel between Canada and the US without a German passport, or between Japan and Australia without a US passport.

They both have German passports, and are prepared to attain an ESTA.

Apply for the child's ESTA authorization now. When doing so, you will have to declare that the child is a US citizen. We have seen on Travel that the US has granted ESTA authorization to dual citizens after they disclose their US citizenship, but that could change at any time. If ESTA authorization is denied, you will be unable to fly to the US without getting the child a US passport.

Also, do not fly to the US through Ireland or through any other preclearance airport without a US passport for the child. Someone left a comment on Travel suggesting that US preclearance officers will refuse to preclear US dual citizens without a US passport, in contrast to the practice at actual ports of entry. While this seems far less likely to happen to a baby, I wouldn't risk it if I were you.

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    For the child to be recognized as a US citizen, @Evan Girard would have to establish with clear and convincing evidence that he is indeed the father. If the steps of establishing this fact haven't been taken yet, it isn't clear what the original poster should say if a US immigration official asks if the child is a citizen. – Gerard Ashton Jun 28 at 16:33
  • @GerardAshton that is true. Would the birth certificate not be sufficient (because the parents are not married)? – phoog Jun 28 at 17:35
  • @GerardAshton: If the conditions in the law are met, the child is a citizen as a matter of law, even if the parents or US government do not at the time have sufficient evidence to prove it. So if asked if the child is a citizen, the only correct answer is Yes. – user102008 Jun 28 at 18:42
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    @phoog No. Since they were not married, the father must make a declaration that he will financially support the child. – Eric Jul 3 at 11:25
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As @phoog has not updated his answer yet, I'm posting my own.

Your son is not yet a US Citizen.

Assuming you meet the conditions outlined by @phoog to pass on US Citizenship to your child, special rules apply for the children of US Citizen fathers and alien mothers born out of wedlock:

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/8/1409

The easiest path forward with this is to go to your consulate, do a Consular Report of a Birth Abroad, and fill in the form at the time where you acknowledge paternity and commit to providing financial support to your child.

If you do this, your son will be a US Citizen retroactively from his date of birth.

If it is inconvenient to do this before your trip, then your son should travel on his German passport, which is currently his sole passport.

  • Thanks for posting this. I had been planning to research and then write a rebuttal of your comment to my answer, in light of the link you provided, but then I got busy with something else and then forgot to do it. Then when you posted this answer, I did my research and found that you are completely right. It's rather impolite of 8 USC 1401 not to make any reference to the parents' marital status and then also not to mention section 1409. – phoog Jul 10 at 16:29
  • @phoog Yes, it is confusingly written. I have had the pleasure of personal experience in this case to educate me. – Eric Jul 10 at 16:39
  • Nothing like personal experience. That is the reason for my familiarity with some provisions of Dutch nationality law that are so arcane that more than one Dutch immigration lawyer has told me that they do not exist. – phoog Jul 10 at 16:52

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