I wanted my baby to be officially American as soon as possible because you never know what life may bring. I also wanted the first time she landed on US soil to be as a recognized American with an American passport.
So I made sure that before our trip home to the US that I had her birth recognized and reported as a US Consular Birth Abroad. If you are a US Citizen living in the UK then you need to make an appointment via the US Embassy in London. The problem is that this is the only place you can do this (maybe another in Scotland but not sure) AND the only appointments that showed up for this service were between 8am and 9:30am during the week (I tried to book my appointment for over a month logging on each day to see when they opened the day up that I needed). You also can only book so far in advance I think maybe 30 days at the most but the spots fill quickly which is why I kept the website tab open and would refresh every morning.
I wanted her to be a US citizen immediately and have a US passport in case I needed to travel home alone with her or god forbid my circumstances change or there is an emergency and we have to go back to the US indefinitely or permanently. The other benefit to doing this as soon as possible is because you can fill out all the paperwork at the same time for a consular birth certificate, passport and social security card. If you wait too late then these cannot all be filed together AND it is much harder to wait for at least a couple of hours with toddlers or multiple children.
How We Did It
So we picked a day during the week that would be good for us. So we chose 9:30am so that we all would have eaten breakfast beforehand. But we couldn’t possibly get to London for 9:30am from our house which is at least over an hour commute by car, train and tube with a baby and pram I don’t think so especially during rush hour – and you have to be there before your appointment to ensure you don’t miss it. So we decided it was best to spend the night in London the night before. We chose Monday because it is easy to drive into London on a Sunday afternoon and parking isn’t bad and I think the rate might have even been lower because it’s not a typical night for business people.
Luckily there is a reasonably priced hotel right near the US Embassy so we booked a room here at the Millenium Hotel Mayfair . The hotel was nice and it was a less than five-minute walk to the Embassy. We woke up and walked to a nearby cafe, ate breakfast and then walked back to the Embassy for our appointment. The process was painless because we had all of our documentation and paperwork with us we just had to wait about two hours. I was able to pay the $200 or so using my US bank card and we got everything approved without an interview or question (probably because my travel documentation shows I’ve been back to the US soooo many times over the past eight years that there wasn’t a reason to question my ties to the US).
Going into London and spending the night allowed us to hang out in London and make a day of it which made the experience all the more special. I also wanted it to be a big deal because let’s face it it is! Dual passports hello!!! So I dressed her in a flag onesie and flag leg warmers that my friend had bought her from home for the fourth of July to mark her ‘becoming’ American.
It may not be a day that she will remember, but we will, and she has the photos to see how we tried to make it special for her.
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