Big Foot’s Birth Certificates

Having a baby in another country is certainly an adventure.  After the birth, however, it’s time to move on to bigger and better things… like paperwork!   Red tape!  Bureaucracy!

Since little Big Foot was born in Germany, he’s entitled to a German birth certificate.  And good thing, because that document is needed for a host of other necessary items like a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, a US passport, a German visa, German health insurance, etc.

We applied for the German birth certificate at the hospital where he was born.  True to German nature, that office hours are ridiculously restrictive.  Think one hour on a Monday and one hour on a Thursday.  That’s it.  Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but it sure seemed like it.  And trying to fit those office hours into a newborn’s schedule was a real barrel of laughs.

At the office, both Doc Sci and I had to show our passports and birth certificates as well as our marriage certificate.  When I pulled out copies, the woman informed me that the city absolutely had to have originals.  This proved to be quite a problem for us since our originals were resting comfortably in a safe on the other side of the Atlantic.

Round and round we went with the government.  We begged.  We pleaded.  We took a translator with us that, ahem, embellished our predicament.  In the end, we were granted the birth certificate for Big Foot but only after we forked over $60 to have our original marriage certificate overnighted from the US.  Evidently, marriage certificate forgery is big business and the city official insisted on seeing the real thing.

In the meantime, I made an appointment with the US Consulate in Frankfurt to apply for Big Foot’s passport.  When looking over the required documents, I realized there are two types of birth certificates in Germany.  The kind we had just fought for was only the short version, and we’d need the long one.


Fortunately, the process for the three-page birth certificate was much easier.  I could order and pay for it online.  When the government official had a question, she emailed me directly – and even answered my reply promptly.  I think that’s the first time I’ve ever been impressed with government service, German or otherwise.

(In case you’re wondering, the German birth certificates are nothing special.  No fancy paper, no gold, no silver, no color at all.  Just plain Jane computer printouts.)

Since Big Foot was not born in the US, he cannot have an American birth certificate.  Instead, we requested a Consular Report of Birth Abroad at the same time we turned in our application for his first passport.  (I’ll post separately about our experience applying for Big Foot’s passport at the US Consulate.)

The Report of Birth Abroad is a beautiful document complete with a raised golden seal and a holographic strip.  It’s much prettier than all of the other family members’ certificates.  And it better be.   That one piece of paper set us back a hundred bucks!

US Consular Report of Birth Abroad.

As for citizenship, he isn’t automatically eligible for German citizenship even though he was born here because neither of his parents (that’s us!) is German.  He can apply for it, but he must choose at the age of 18 which country will be most deserving of his tax dollars, er, I mean whether he would like to be a German citizen or an American citizen.

Regardless, we are very glad that Big Foot is now official in two countries.  Hooray!

2 thoughts on “Big Foot’s Birth Certificates

  1. Pingback: Getting an American Passport in Germany « Thrifty Travel Mama

  2. Pingback: Expats Move Home: Blazing the Paper Trail out of Germany | Thrifty Travel Mama

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