Issues with Family Outside the U.S.

Find out about authenticating documents, getting married outside the U.S. and children born abroad.

Authenticate Documents

You can 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.

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 and the Authentications and Apostilles page from the Department of State (DOS).

For more information, details on a procedure, or status, call the DOS Office of Authentications at 1-202-485-8000, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM ET, Monday through Friday.

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Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program

The U.S. Department of State's Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP) notifies the parent or guardian of participating children whenever an application for a U.S. Passport is submitted in their name and verify whether the parent(s) approve this passport being issued.  You must be the legal parent or guardian of each child under the age of 18 to enroll in the program.

This program does not limit the issuance of a passport, nor does it track or restrict its use.

Contact the Department of State's Office of Children's Issues to get more information or review a list of  frequently asked questions about the program. 

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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. For additional copies, contact the Passport Services Vital Records Office at 1-202-485-8300.

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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.

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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 or territory. If you were born in a U.S. territory, but do not have a birth certificate issued by that 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.

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Last Updated: October 19, 2017

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