Issues with Family Outside the U.S.
Find helpful resources for certain life events when traveling abroad including death of an American, a U.S. citizen marrying outside the U.S. and getting legal documents verified to use in another country. Also, learn about the parental alert program for a child's passport application.
Authenticate a U.S. Document for Use in Another Country
You may need to present a legal document issued in the United States for use in another country. These documents can include court orders, contracts, vital records, and educational diplomas. To verify signatures, stamps, or seals on these documents, they must be authenticated.
The process to get a document authenticated depends on the specific document, the state in which it was issued, and other factors. Check with your state’s document authentication agency. Also, visit the Authentications page from the Department of State (DOS).
If the country in which you are presenting your documents is a member of the 1961 Hague Convention, you can get an apostille. An apostille validates seals and signatures of officials on public documents. Apostilles authenticate birth certificates, court orders, and many other documents. Learn more about apostilles and how they are issued.
For more information, details on a procedure, or status, call the DOS Office of Authentications at 1-202-485-8000. Phone hours are from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Typically, appointment hours are from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM to 2:30 PM ET, Monday through Friday. However, due to COVID-19, the Office of Authentications is not accepting in-person appointments at this time.
Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program
The U.S. Department of State's Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP) will notify parents or guardians of a participating child if an application for a U.S. Passport is submitted in the child’s name. It will also verify parental approval of the passport being issued. To enroll in the program you must be the legal parent or guardian of each child under the age of 18.
This program does not stop a passport from being issued. It also does not track or restrict the passport’s use.
Contact the Department of State's Office of Children's Issues to learn more. Review a list of frequently asked questions about the program.
Death of an American Abroad
U.S. Embassies and Consulates help family members in the unfortunate event of the death of an American citizen in a foreign country by:
The Consular Report of Death is required in U.S. legal proceedings instead of the foreign death certificate. You may get up to 20 certified copies of this document at no charge from the U.S. Embassy or consulate in the country where the death occurred. To request a Consular Report of Death for a specific country, select "Death of a U.S. Citizen" under U.S. Citizen Services on the embassy's website. For additional copies, contact the Passport Services Vital Records Office at 1-202-485-8300.
Marriage of an American Citizen Outside the United States
The United States generally recognizes marriages abroad. However, each state and territory determines its own marriage laws. The Department of State also provides information on marriage abroad.
To check on the procedures in another country, start with the embassy or consulate for that country.
U.S. Citizenship for People Born Abroad or in U.S. Territories
You are a U.S. citizen if:
- You have a birth certificate issued by a U.S. state.
- You were born in a U.S. territory and have a birth certificate issued by that territory. If you don't have a birth certificate from your birth territory, you may be able to verify your citizenship status using other documents.
- You were born outside of the U.S. to at least one U.S. citizen parent, and your parent(s) recorded your birth with the U.S. Embassy or consulate in that country.
Learn more about births of U.S. citizens abroad.
Do you have a question?
Ask a real person any government-related question for free. They'll get you the answer or let you know where to find it.
Last Updated: May 16, 2022