I never in a million years thought that I would have to make an appointment with a US Embassy overseas, and in Malaysia no less, in order to get my daughter US citizenship. But yet, here we are….


newborn photo courtesy of Chloe Lodge Photography

We joyfully welcomed our first child, a daughter we named Ava Dawn, on July 16, 2013 at 3:50am at Pantai Hospital in Kuala Lumpur. Along with the immediate exhaustion of having survived a 26 hr labor, a myriad of emotions,  & intense sleep deprivation of being first time parents, we also had the added responsibility of obtaining a Malaysian birth certificate for Ava, as well as a US CRBA (Consular Report of Birth Abroad), which will be her US birth certificate for the rest of her life, her passport, her social security card, and her Malaysian dependent visa (not discussed below). Geez, I’m tired all over again from just writing this!

The process of getting all of the above done was not rocket science in any way, just extremely time consuming, and in my opinion, could have been so much easier than it really was. Anyway, here are the 10 Steps to get your expat newborn baby citizenship to the great US of A (disclaimer: this is for babies born by existing US citizen(s). I do not know the process for others).:


Ava was pooped from our 3 1/2 hr embassy appt!

Step 1: Deliver your baby in Malaysia (duh!)

Step 2: Upon being discharged from the hospital here in KL, the nursing staff will provide to you paperwork proving the successful delivery of your child(s), called a Birth Registration Application (all in Bahasa Malay- don’t worry, the nurses will explain to you!). You must take that paperwork and fill in the rest (per the nurses instructions, unless you speak Bahasa Malay) at home.

Step 3: Take said paperwork, filled out to the best of your ability, to the Malaysian National Registration Department or JPN (Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara), which is located in Sri Hartamas, within 14 days of his/her birth, otherwise they will fine you. If you go on a weekday in the morning (opens at 7:30am), its a quick 15-30 minute visit. Only 1 parent needs to be present, so send daddy! :)

– JPN address: Aras G, Kompleks KDN WP Kuala Lumpur Jalan Sri Hartamas 1, Off Jalan Duta, WP Kuala Lumpur Tel#: 03-6205 7670

– Documents needed: Birth Registration Application (completed), Both parents’ passports and certified copy of marriage certificate for validation purposes, along with copies of everything (very important!).

Step 4: After obtaining the bright PINK (no matter if boy or girl) Malaysian birth certificate (such a fun memory for your child to have for the rest of their life!), scan it into your computer and email it to the US Embassy with a request for an appointment at the following email address: KLACS@state.gov. They will respond within 24 hrs (typically) and provide you will a “zip” file of documents & further instructions, BEFORE granting you an in-person appointment. The contents of the zip file are as follows:

– CRBA in PPT, DS-11, DS-2029, SS-5-SF, Passport Application contact information. (Some forms must be completed in PDF format and some in black ink so read all instructions carefully)

Step 5: Print out the documents sent, along with their instructions, and begin the long and tiring process of filling out the multiple forms as well as scour your own personal files at home for the pertinent documents required which are:

– Certified copy of marriage certificate, Copies of parents’ passports & visas, Proof of address in USA, Original divorce decrees (if previously married), and Child’s new PINK Malaysian birth certificate.

Step 6: Email above forms and supporting documents to US Embassy requesting an appointment at above email address.

Step 7: Take baby to photoshop & take passport pictures. This is a hilarious process! Must have white background, showing both ears, head pointed straight on, and eyes open. Such a debacle when your child is 2 weeks old- LOL :-)!

Step 8: Take in all paperwork (already emailed), & passport photos into US Embassy on appointment date & the most important: mom, dad, and baby must all be present together for this appointment. Allow 2-4 hours for this appointment!!

Step 9: Pay the fee: $100 for CRBA & $105 for passport & Swear to the embassy official that everything you have written down and said is truth (while they sift through all paperwork already emailed to them to verify authenticity) and sign all pertinent documents.

Step 10: Wait 7-10 days for passport & CRBA to arrive from the good ol’ US of A at the US Embassy in KL! (Note: you must bring in receipt showing payment, along with your passport & notecard indicating items to pick up that they give you, in order to pick up items). Only 1 parent must be present, OR you can send a representative in your place. Another note: the social security card will be mailed to your US postal address in 6 months.

…and thats it folks! Easy peasy right?! Hahaha,

Your child you just birthed abroad is now officially a US Citizen and can travel the world with you. Let the fun begin :):)


Ava’s passport is half her size at 5 weeks old!

Until next time, happy parenting, happy travels, & happy expat babies~



7 Responses to The makings of a US Citizen in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

  1. Katie Miller says:

    What a process! So proud of you & David & little Ava! Enjoy all the experiences you are able to enjoy! Love & hugs, Katie & Jay

  2. Heather says:

    So cute! We are American expats in Vietnam, expecting our second baby in February. I really hope someone wrote a post like this for Vietnam.

  3. Heidi busk says:

    Hi, Kimbra and David.

    Congrats. Ava is so cute! It sounds like this was just like everything else in Malaysia. A little inneficient and a lot of paperwork!

    We would love to meet little Ava sometime. We’ve been out in the Bangsar area a couple of times, but haven’t contacted you because we know how busy you are with a baby in the family.

    We will let you know when we are planning to head that way and see if we can meet up somewhere, or drop by your house to say hi.

    Heidi and Bob

    • intlnabers says:

      Hi!! Wow, the last 2 months have been such a whirlwind!! We would LOVE to see you both again and catch up as well as introduce you to miss Ava. Let me know when you have some time and we can meet up :). We are happy to come your way as well! Hope school life is going well!!

  4. Andrea says:

    This is such a helpful post! Thank you :) We are having a hard time finding a photo shop willing to take baby passport pictures though.. Do you have any advice on where to go in the KL/PJ area?

    • intlnabers says:

      HI Andrea, I am so sorry for the delay….I am 2 days late in expecting baby #2 so its been a bit hectic around here. Anywho, we had luck at both the photoshops in Bangsar Village across from the Village Grocer as well as at the photoshop in Bangsar Shopping Center on the ground floor across from Morelli’s ice cream.

      I hope this helps- best of luck!!

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