If someone living at an embassy abroad gave birth to a child on the embassy grounds, then what country and what place will be indicated on the birth certificate?

To clarify the question, let's assume that we mean the US embassy in another country. But I'm also interested in how a similar situation will occur in the embassies of other countries.

I saw a similar question but it is related to citizenship, but I only ask about birth certificate

  • 1
    @hszmv Consulates are responsible, not the Embassy. An Embassy may have a consulate department inside. Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 16:40
  • 2
    @hszmv registration and documentation of births is generally handled by the host country. Diplomatic missions do not typically issue birth certificates, marriage certificates nor similar civil documents. They may issue a secondary document that formally recognizes the validity of the host country's certification, or they may issue a complimentary certificate such as the US consular report of birth abroad, but to get one of these you need a birth certificate issued by the host country.
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 21:54
  • 1
    @Questor I think both options can be considered. They are equally interesting to study
    – RoyalGoose
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 7:06
  • 3
    In support of @MarkJohnson's comment: Having been born in a US Army hospital in West Germany to American parents (my father was in the Army), I received a "Consular Report of Birth Abroad". That's the closest I've got to a birth certificate.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 17:07
  • 3
    @FreeMan I have both a Consular Report of Birth Abroad from the U.S. embassy, and a birth certificate issued by the country where I was born, as does my nephew. The procedures in Germany might have been different, but are you sure no local authority did record a birth certificate for you at the time, even if your parents no longer have it?
    – Davislor
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 13:41

3 Answers 3


The place of birth on the birth certificate is where the child was actually born. Indeed, usually it will be more specific than city and state or province and will also identify a hospital or residence or other place where the birth happened.

So, for example, if a child is born to U.S. diplomats in Paris, France (in or out of the embassy grounds), the birth certificate will say that the child was born in Paris, France at Charles de Gaulle Hospital.

But, that child will still be a U.S. citizen in all likelihood, because that child's mother, and/or married father or unmarried father who acknowledges paternity, is a U.S. citizen (in all likelihood) pursuant to 8 U.S.C. §§ 1401 and 1409. The child may or may not be a French dual citizen depending upon the citizenship law of France.

In the case of a French diplomat who has a child born physically in Washington D.C. (inside or outside the French embassy) the birth certificate will likewise state that the child was born in Washington D.C.

The French diplomat's child, however, will not be a U.S. citizen since Section 1 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution's first sentence (which is also found in 8 U.S.C. § 1401(a)) states:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

But a French diplomat's child is not "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States, so the French diplomat's child does not gain U.S. citizenship at birth (assuming for simplicity's sake that both of the child's parents are French citizens and are not U.S. citizens) despite the fact that the child was born in the United States.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Dale M
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 23:19

If we assume that the ambassador and his wife (or other embassy staff), living in the embassy residence, will give birth to a child, then what country and what place will be indicated on the birth certificate?

There is a common misconception that embassies are the sovereign territory of the country whose embassy it is. This is not the case. Embassies are inviolable, meaning that the country where the embassy is located can't exercise physical jurisdiction over the premises of the embassy without the ambassador's consent. This is established by article 22 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The premises otherwise remain legally under the sovereignty of the country where the embassy is located.

For example, if someone commits a crime in the French embassy to the US, the prosecution would take place in the DC courts according to the DC criminal code (or, depending on the nature of the crime, in the federal courts according to the federal criminal code, which is rather more likely for a crime committed in an embassy than it is for a crime committed somewhere else).

In other words, the grounds of the French embassy in Washington are US territory and the grounds of the US embassy in Paris are French territory. Therefore, a birth certificate for a child born at the French embassy to the US will be issued by the District of Columbia, and it will show that the child was born in the District of Columbia at 4101 Reservoir Road NW.

This assumes that the birth is reported; if everyone in attendance at the birth is a diplomat with full immunity then they could choose to ignore the requirement to report the birth. Presumably they would only do that if they had a way of certifying the birth under French law. I imagine that some countries have provisions for their capital cities to issue birth certificates for children of their diplomats born abroad, but I'd be a bit surprised if France were among them.

  • Your last paragraph raises a valid point - what if the child doesn't want any additional citizenship? It costs money to forgo a US citizenship else the child will suffer US tax requirements for life even if they don't ever set foot in the US. Waiting ~18 years for the child to make a decision may not be possible.
    – Criggie
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 0:11
  • 6
    @Criggie If both parents are entitled to diplomatic immunity, the child doesn't gain US citizenship at birth.
    – cpast
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 1:28
  • 5
    @Criggie newborn babies are not capable of wanting or not wanting citizenship. The child either is or is not a citizen. If the child is born with diplomatic immunity then the child is not a citizen even if the birth is reported. If the child is not born with diplomatic immunity then the child is a US citizen, but if the birth is not reported then it may be difficult to prove that. This question, however, is explicitly not about citizenship, which is why I didn't mention citizenship in the answer.
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 1:30
  • 5
    There have been a few cases where a room was made temporary territory of a different country to avoid citizenship complications. The case I know of is Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, born while her mother, the future Queen Juliana was in Canada during the WWII German occupation of the Netherlands. Had she been born in Canada, Margriet would have had dual citizenship, which would have made her ineligible to succeed to the Netherlands throne. A room was made briefly part of the Netherlands to avoid this. Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 21:49
  • 5
    @JohnDallman it was not made part of the Netherlands, only made extraterritorial. On top of that, the proclamation also declared that Juliana and her child were fully immune from Canadian jurisdiction, implying that the same rule as now applies to ambassadors and their families in the United States also applied to ambassadors and their families in Canada in the 1940s.
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 3:55

A child's place of birth is the place where they are born (obviously). Embassies have no special status, embassies in France are all in France, and French embassies are in many different countries. Born in a Greek embassy in France, your place of birth is France.

Sometimes your place of birth is legally important, but then there is a good chance that there are specific rules for that case. For example the baby of German diplomats born in the German embassy in Washington is born in the USA, but because of the special case this baby doesn't get the rights and duties that 99.9% of children born in the USA have, and would most likely instead get all the rights and duties that 99.9% of children in Germany have.

(Practically, I don't know whether they would get some special entry in their passports so for example US border officers wouldn't keep asking "but your place in birth is the USA, you must be US citizen. And if such a baby lived in the USA for 18 years, I wonder if they would have the right to naturalise. Same as any other 18 year old, or more rights because they were born in the USA. And now we can go totally hypothetically and ask if such a baby could eventually become US president, but I think the rule there is something like "born as US citizen" and not actually "born in the USA". And if a golf club accepted only members "born in the USA", which might be illegal discrimination or not, they'd have to accept that German child of German diplomats born in the USA).

  • The question is not about citizenship. Nonetheless, I feel compelled to note that the US-born child of an ambassador does not have a right to naturalize, but there is a possibility to apply for permanent residence as a "special immigrant," which requires waiving diplomatic privileges and immunities. As with any permanent resident, it is possible to naturalize after residing in the US in permanent resident status for a certain period of time, provided that certain other conditions are also fulfilled.
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 4:05
  • Also, the foreign-born child of German parents is always a German citizen regardless of why the parents were abroad when the child was born and regardless of whether the child acquires another nationality at birth.
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 4:09
  • The Wikipedia article for Somerset Maugham, born in the British embassy in Paris from British parents, claims that it is "legally recognized as UK territory": wikiwand.com/en/W._Somerset_Maugham. Is that an error?
    – Taladris
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 6:22
  • 1
    @Taladris: Yes, that is an error. Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 14:43
  • 2
    @Taladris It may depend on the specifics of the French law and international norms back then. Modern rules are mainly based on the Vienna Conventions almost a century after the birth.
    – xngtng
    Commented Dec 14, 2022 at 15:21

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .