Claiming your foreign-born child as a dependent on your US taxes

I hope this is helpful to any US citizens with children born in Taiwan.

To claim your child as a dependent, you will need to have an SSN or ITIN for the child. If the child is born in the US, this is very easy as you typically apply for an SSN in the hospital and receive it a few weeks later.

If your child is born outside the US, that is a different matter. If you both parents are US citizens the the child is an automatic US citizen. If one of the parents is a US citizen and meets certain requirements, then the child is an automatic US citizen.

However, despite the term automatic, there is still some paperwork to fill out to prove citizenship for someone born outside the US. To do this in Taiwan, visit the AIT’s website here:

You will find out procedures on how to apply for a CRBA, passport and SSN for your child.

Do this EARLY! This process can be very lengthy:

  1. Preparing the necessary documents can take a couple of months, especially if only one parent is a US citizen and you have to provide tax or social security records to prove you lived in the US at least 5 years.

  2. Once you submit the documents, AIT takes 1-2 weeks to prepare the paperwork.

  3. After the paperwork is completed, the CRBA is issued, and only then are the SSN and passport applications submitted to the relevant authorities.

  4. While the passport is usually issued in 3-6 weeks, the SSN can take a LONG time to be issued. Expect at least 3 months, perhaps longer (see below).

I had a very frustrating experience with this, so I can only urge everyone to get going early. My daughter was born in December 2002. I didn’t get the required paperwork assembled until the end of June, and she received her CRBA in mid-July. She received her passport in early August.

In the meantime I had filed two extensions on my taxes, the last expiring October 15. I still had not received her SSN by early October. I contacted the SSA who told me that because of new security regulations they couldn’t advise me of status over the phone. They told be that if I went to AIT they could verify my identity and call the Manila office to inquire. AIT told me that they could do no such thing and the only option was to send postal mail to the Manila office. Each person I talked to also offered a different amount of time to get an SSN through Manila. This ranged from 8 weeks to 3-6 months to at least 4 months to 6-9 months. And nobody had any apparent power to do anything about it or even check status.

In the end it took just over 3 months for me, and I received it just after the last extension to file my taxes for 2002. Following IRS advice, I filed my taxes without claiming my child, then now that I have received her SSN I can file an amended tax return claiming her as a dependent.

If your child doesn’t qualify for US citizenship, you can apply for an ITIN. Obtain form W-7, take the required documents to AIT for notarization and send them in to the IRS. You should receive a number in about a month. Note that according to the IRS you cannot file for an ITIN if your child qualifies for US citizenship.

Hope this helps, and I hope the Manila SSA office gets their act together. It is ridiculous that those in the US can receive SSNs in a few weeks, non-citizens can obtain ITINs in less than a month, but US citizens born abroad need to wait 3-9 months for theirs, even after a lengthy process to prove their citizenship.


I just found this page through a search. I can definitely see how having your child born late in the year would create headaches when trying to file taxes.

I have a related question for you, and I was hoping you or anybody else could give me a little advice. From your experience, do I need to get extra copies of the Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) from AIT? I notice from their website that they mention extra copies can be purchased. If you are careful and do not lose the original CRBA, is it necessary to order extra ones? I just don’t know if there are any situations where you have to turn in the original CRBA and will not get it back. How many copies would you recommend me getting?

Thanks for your clear explanation in the post above. Any other insight that you can give would be greatly appreciated.

I only got one. The only time you should need to use it is where a US birth certificate would be required, and I’m not aware of anyone that would require giving an original birth certificate. For myself whenever I’ve had to show a birth certificate, I just had to show it to them, give them a copy or give them a notarized copy. Because I couldn’t think of why I’d need more than one, I just asked for one. Even if you lose it, there’s a process for applying for a replacement.

Thanks for the quick reply. I agree with you. After thinking about it, I can’t imagine anyone keeping my birth certificate, so this will be no different.

I appreciate your help.