Reports of Life Events That Occurred Abroad

​The United States Department of State should be contacted for information on how to obtain reports of birth, death, marriage and divorce if the individual involved was a U.S. citizen at the time the event occurred. The State Department web site is easy to navigate and contains a wealth of information. If you do not have internet access, you may contact the Department of State either by phone or mail at:

U.S. Department of State

Passport Vital Records Section
44132 Mercure Circle
PO Box 1213
Sterling, VA  20166-1213

Telephone: (202) 485-8300.

Information for frequently asked questions include:

Birth of U.S. Citizens Abroad

Parents of a child born abroad to a U.S. citizen or citizens should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as possible to apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America (CRBA), also known as Form FS-240. According to U.S. law, a CRBA provides proof of U.S. citizenship and may be used for the same purposes as a U.S. Birth Certificate. 

As of Jan. 3, 2011, the U.S. Department of State began issuing a new Consular Report of Birth Abroad form (FS-240). This form replaced the earlier Certificate of Report of Birth (DS-1350), which is ceased being issued on December 31, 2010. All previously issued FS-240 and DS-1350 documents are still valid for proof of identity, citizenship and other legal purposes.

For specific information on how to order replacement copies of or amend a CRBA, see How to Replace or Amend a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA).

Death of U.S. Citizens Abroad

The death of a U.S. citizen in a foreign country should be reported to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate office. If reported and if a copy of the local death certificate and evidence of U.S. citizenship are presented, the consul will prepare a Consular Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad. A copy of the report of death is then filed permanently in the U.S. Department of State. For information on how to obtain copies of a report of death, either call or write the State Department (see above) or visit the State Departmentwebsite.

Exclusions to the above include:

  • Reports of Death filed before 1963
    These are maintained by the National Archives and Records Service, Diplomatic Records Branch, Washington, DC 20408. Requests for these records should be sent directly to that office.
  • Reports of death of person serving in the armed forces of the United States (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force or Coast Guard) or civilian employees of the Department of Defense are not maintained by the U.S. Department of State
    In these cases, requests for copies of records should be sent to the National Personnel Records Center (military Personnel Records), 9700 Page Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri 63132-5100.

Births and Deaths Occurring on Vessels or Aircraft on the High Seas

When a birth or death occurs on the high seas, whether in an aircraft or on a vessel, the record is usually filed at the next port of call.

If the vessel or aircraft docked or landed at a foreign port, requests for copies of the records may be made to the U.S. Department of State (see above).

If the first port of entry was in the United States, contact the registration authority in the city where the vessel or aircraft docked or landed.

If the vessel was of U.S. registry, contact the local authorities at the port of entry and/or search the vessel logs at the U.S. Coast Guard facility at the vessel's final port of call for that voyage.

Marriage Abroad

Marriages solemnized overseas are considered valid in the country where they occurred if they are performed and filed according to local law. If you plan to marry in a foreign country, it is recommended that you contact the embassy or tourist information bureau of that country to learn about specific requirements. If you need to know if your marriage abroad will be recognized in the United States, it is recommended that you contact the office of the attorney general of your state of residence.

For additional information regarding marriage abroad, either call or write the State Department (see above) or visit the State Department website.

Divorce Abroad

A judgment of divorce filed abroad generally is recognized in the United States on the basis of legal reciprocity, contingent upon both parties having been given advance notice of the divorce proceeding and having been given an opportunity to be heard in these proceedings. Since divorce is generally a matter of the state rather than the federal government, specific questions regarding the validity of foreign divorces in the United States should be referred to the office of the attorney general in the party's (or parties') state of residence. 

For additional information regarding divorce abroad, either call or write the State Department (see above), or visit the State Department website.

Records of Birth, Death and Marriage in the Panama Canal Zone for U.S. Citizens and Foreign Nationals

From 1904 until 1979, during the in which the Panama Canal Zone was maintained as a United States territory, the Canal Zone government registered all civil acts of birth, death and marriage that occurred within its boundaries. In 1999 all Canal Zone birth and death records were transferred to Passport Services in the U.S. Department of State and all marriage records were sent to the National Archives. Certified copies of these documents may be obtained by contacting the appropriate agency.

For birth and death records, either call or write the State Department (see above) or visit the State Department website.

For marriage records, either visit the National Archives website or write the National Archives directly at: Civilian Records (NWCTC), Textual Archives Services Division, 8601 Adelphi Road, National Archives, College Park, MD  20740-6001.

Certificate of Citizenship issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

A person born abroad who acquired U.S. citizenship at birth but is older than 18 (and therefore not eligible for a CRBA) may wish to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship through the USCIS. This process will entail completing Form N-600. For additional information, call the USCIS toll-free at (800) 375-5283 or visit the USCIS website.

Records Maintained by Foreign Countries

Most foreign countries will provide certificates of births and deaths that occurred within their boundaries upon request. To obtain these records, contact the nearest consulate in the U.S. of the country in which the birth or death occurred. Contact information for foreign consulates can be found on the internet or in the U.S. Department of State Publication 7846, Foreign Consular Offices in the United States, which is available in more libraries. In the case for U.S. citizens, if the consulate is not able to assist you in obtaining the records you desire, you may write to the Office of Overseas Citizens Services, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC  20520-4212.


Additional Information