Category Archives: Embassy

Having A Baby In China: Embassy Regulations

I know a few people that were born abroad and had dual citizenship as kids, so I just assumed that things worked the same in every country. Not so. China doesn’t allow dual citizenship, so if you’re having your baby in China, you need to decide if she’ll stay Chinese (which is automatic due to birth) or transfer to your or your spouse’s nationality.

For Americans there are different requirements based on which parent is American and if/when the couple got married. I suggest checking your country’s embassy’s citizen services website as soon as possible so that you know all of the requirements and can get everything in order. For couples who were married at the time of the baby’s birth, things are pretty easy and straight forward. There’s a lot of paperwork involved, but just make a checklist of everything you need, go through it one-by-one and it’s not so bad.

We decided that our kids would get American citizenship, and at the start of my third trimester I filled out all of the necessary papers and had my mom send a new transcript from my college and tax returns for my whole adult life (proof that I am indeed American). I also put together a photo album documenting our marriage and the pregnancy. Even with all of this I was still interrogated beyond what I’d expected and was terribly nervous the entire time. It was a woman who questioned every little piece of paper and up until she signed the papers approving his citizenship, I wasn’t sure he would get it.

So I prepared even more with my daughter. I updated my photo album, got a new transcript, added the most recent tax forms and job records and, wouldn’t you know, it was a breeze. The very personable guy that we interviewed with didn’t even open my new transcript (had to order another because it was opened) or look at any of the records beyond our passports. He looked through the photo album and commented on photos in a friendly, conversational way and then congratulated our baby on becoming an American citizen.

As I noted previously, regulations changed slightly between my pregnancies. One was that photos documenting the pregnancy are now required. For my son it was just something extra I did. I’m not too into maternity photos, so I’m glad I caught this change or else I probably wouldn’t have had more than one or two. I took monthly photos and added them to my photo alubm, along with updating it to include pictures of my son’s growth over the years.

The American embassy does recommend you file for the report of birth abroad and citizenship and Social Security Number as soon as possible, but you can wait too. Most American couples make this their first stop on the way home from the hospital, but if you’re part of a Chinese couple, mother and baby may not be allowed out for the first month to 40 days. For our son we waited until he was 3-months old but with my daughter we took her a week after my zuo yue zi was over.

Other posts in the Having A Baby In China series:

Having A Baby In China

There’s so much to share about living in China…with or without kids! I should have started this blog years ago, but now’s better than never.

First up, I’m going to tackle the subject of having a baby in China. Yes, I know that a lot of Western women go back to their home countries to have their babies (and a lot of Chinese women are going abroad so that their kids get foreign citizenship), but for some of us, it’s far more practical to have them here.

Both of my kids were born here, in local small-town hosptials, and had great care. A different kind of care than you’d get in the West, but we were well taken care of.

Due to the cost of going back to America, plus the fact that I don’t have any sort of health insurance, going back was never an option or came across our radar until I was about 7 months pregnant with my second child. The law is kind of murky about second children, even for foreigners since any child born in China is considered Chinese.  Even after transfering foreign citizenship to your child, in the eyes of the country, the child is still Chinese.

That said, get your baby’s citizenship changed as soon as you can. I had to follow the Chinese practice of zuo yue zi where women can’t leave the house for a period of time, usually a month to 45 days. But I know most couples who are both foreigners and live in Beijing will make the embassy their first stop on their way home from the hospital.

That said, my first piece of advice is to find out what your country requires for transfering citizenship to your baby if he or she is born abroad. The American embassy has different policies depending on if the couple are both Americans, the father is, the mother is, they are married or they’re not married. And remember to check their site throughout your pregnancy. I’m sure they don’t change things all that often, but we did find some significant changes between our first and second child.

In future posts I’ll talk about:

  • the American Embassy regulations
  • prenatal vitamins and radiation smocks
  • prenatal hospital visits
  • birthing classes
  • breast feeding
  • shopping for baby
  • delivery
  • the Chinese zuo yue zi (Moon Month)

Your turn: What questions do you have about having a baby in China? Leave me a note or email me at CharlotteEdwardsZhang (at) gmail (dot) com and let me know.