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When my husband and I started thinking about having a child, one of the first questions we asked ourselves was, “What country do we want to have our baby in?” As international teachers, it was important to us to time the pregnancy and delivery with being in a country where I felt comfortable giving birth. As I looked into some of our different options, I realized that there can be multiple benefits to giving birth abroad.

One reason to consider birth abroad, even if you live in your home country, is to set your child up with a second citizenship from birth. A number of countries, mostly in North, South and Central America, offer birthright citizenship, meaning that any baby born on that country’s soil automatically has a right to citizenship. This practice is known as jus soli, birthright by soil.

Depending on the country, a second citizenship and passport can give your child greater freedom to travel, less tax liability, access to more affordable health care or college education, and more employment and investment opportunities. A second citizenship will increase your child’s options, and although his or her adult future may seem a long way off, it can be well worth planning ahead.

Factors to Consider

If you are considering giving birth in a country other than your home country, here are some factors to research and think about.

1. Dual Citizenship Laws

Not all countries allow dual citizenship, and many countries only allow dual citizenship with a limited number of other countries. Find out about the dual citizenship regulations of your home country and the country you plan to have your baby in to make sure your child can hold both citizenships at the same time.

2. Tax Liability

Many countries do not tax income that is gained beyond its borders. The US is one country that does tax global income, making it more expensive in the long run to be a US citizen living outside the US than to be a non-resident citizen of another country.

3. Military Service Requirements

Some nations have an obligatory military service requirement for their citizens. Find out about these requirements as well as policies regarding involuntary drafting in times of war.

Photo: jaaron

4. Security Regulations

Citizens of some countries may be subject to increased security regulations. For example, foreign nationals from Arab and Muslim countries were questioned and fingerprinted as part of the US “Special Registration Program” after 9/11. While Pakistan offers birthright citizenship, Pakistani nationals are often subject to stricter travel and immigration laws.

5. Cost of College Education

The cost of a college education differs widely between countries, and many public institutions offer lower rates (or free universal education) for citizens of their country or residents of a particular area. Find out if any of the countries offering jus soli have subsidized or low-cost educational opportunities.

6. Prenatal Care & Delivery Options

Whether you choose to give birth at home or abroad, it’s important to find out about your prenatal care and delivery options. A country’s citizenship may seem ideal, but if you are not comfortable with the medical facilities and birth practices in that country (or you can’t afford them) then you will want to look for a different option. Talk to other expats who have given birth abroad and find out about their experiences and recommendations.

7. Maternity & Paternity Leave

If you decide to give birth while working overseas, make sure you know what your company’s policies are regarding maternity and paternity leave. How long is the leave, and will you be paid during that time? Some countries have laws that require employers to grant a certain number of days to new mothers and fathers. The leave can be as short as 10 days or as long as several months depending on the country and your employer.

8. Birth Tourism Packages

In the US, a ‘birth tourism’ industry has been built up to cater to expectant mothers. Some hotels, like the Marmana Manhattan, offer package deals for moms-to-be that include things like airport transfers, two months’ accommodation, baby cradle and special gift packages.

Countries Offering Birthright Citizenship

The following list is from NumbersUSA, an immigration resource for US citizens. Countries may discontinue the practice of jus soli at any time, so it’s best to contact your nearest embassy or consulate for current policies before making any plans to give birth abroad.

North America: Canada, United States, Mexico

Caribbean: Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St. Christopher & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago

Central & South America: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela

Asia: Azerbaijan, Pakistan

Africa: Lesotho

Pacific: Fiji

Final Decisions

In addition to the legal and medical factors, you will also want to consider more personal factors. If you have your baby abroad, will your family be able to visit you or be involved in your child’s early life? Will you be able to build a support network in your host country to help you during pregnancy and after the birth? If you plan on working after the birth, is quality childcare available?

Ultimately, we’ve decided to have our first child in the US as my husband is a dual Portuguese-American citizen and our child will already be born with two citizenships. For us, the personal factors, such as being closer to family able to spend more time with the baby because we’re currently back in school (and not working full-time teaching jobs), ended up being the deciding factors.

Community Connection

Have you ever had a child abroad or thought about giving birth abroad? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section.

Expat Life

 

About The Author

Heather Carreiro

Heather is a secondary English teacher, travel writer and editor who has lived in Morocco and Pakistan. She enjoys jamming on the bass, haggling over saris in dusty markets and cross-country jumping on horseback. Currently she's a grad student attempting to wrap her tongue around Middle English, analyze South Asian literature and eat enough to make her Portuguese mother-in-law happy. Learn more on her blog at ExpatHeather.com.

  • http://abbiemood.com Abbie

    This is a great article! I don’t know if I’m going to have kids, but I have considered having one/them abroad if I do but wasn’t sure about all the dual citizenship stuff! Thanks Heather :)

  • Ashley

    I was JUST talking about this yesterday with a friend. I’m a few years away from considering children just yet, but establishing dual citizenship is one of those things I’ve been strongly considering an asset — right up there with saving for college, in fact! Thank you so much for posting this overview!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com Benny the Irish polyglot

    Definitely definitely doing this!! This way, if my wife turns out not to be Brazilian, at least our first-born can be! :D

    I have dual citizenship and it has really simplified being a nomad in many ways.

    Excellent suggestion, cheers!

  • Helen

    Excellent article Heather, as always. I love reading your writing, they are so interesting and informative :)

  • http://nancythegnomette.com Nancy

    I’m fascinated. Thanks for this article, Heather.

    My husband and I don’t have kids, but contemplate it more and more as we get older. How fantastic it would it be to set up your child with dual citizenship? Definitely has my wheels turning.

    Out of curiosity, what country, given all the factors listed above, would you most recommend for dual citizenship with the US?

    • Heather Carreiro

      Hmm it really depends what you’re looking for in the citizenship country. Many of the Caribbean countries offer low or no tax liability for non-resident citizens, and those countries are easily accessible from the US. Think about if you want a place that has a sustainable economy, is geographically remote (go for Fiji or the mountains of northern Pakistan), has good international relations with other countries or offers benefits (like free education or free health care) to its citizens. If we opted for giving birth abroad solely for the citizenship, I’d probably choose Brazil due to the language factor – at least our kids would be able to understand the local language!

      Maybe I need to research all these options some more and do a series on it for my blog….

  • monica

    I am currently pregnant and trying to discover the best country to have this baby for dual citizenship. My husband and I are U.S. citizens and we prefer having the child in Fiji, although we cannot find out for certain about Fiji dual citizenship abilities. Are there specialists who can help in this serious type of research? How did you learn the most accurate information to answer the important questions you listed? Thanks!

    • Heather Carreiro

      Some countries are more transparent with their information than others. I’d start by browsing embassy websites and seeing if you can find anything about birthright citizenship and then follow that up with a phone call to your nearest embassy or consulate to find out about the legal issues. To hear about other people’s experiences with prenatal care and delivery in a certain country or city, it’s best to search expat forums or try to contact some other families directly to find out about their experiences. One place to look is the forums at International Schools Review (where I think this topic has been discussed a few times) as many international teachers end up giving birth abroad. You need a subscription to read school reviews (which sometimes include info relevant to giving birth if one of the teachers writing the review gave birth while there, but finding this info is like looking for a needle in a haystack), but you can access the International Schools Review forums for free. I’d suggest trying to get in touch with other expats in Fiji via blogs or forums and get advice from them. We considered giving birth in Pakistan (because we lived there, not for the citizenship) and it was easiest to get info from people who were already ‘on the ground’ and had experience with the health care system.

  • http://wonderandwander.com Ameya

    Nice article! We also decided to have our first here in the states (last november!) even though we were planning on moving to China. I am a birth rights activist and asia is NOT at all the ideal place to have babies (not for safety reasons, but for matters of choice (they are overly fond of c-sections and medical interventions..and not letting the husbands in the room!), outside of medical tourism places such as Thailand, where we’ll probably have our next child).

    We’re moving to China next month though, and in about 2 years we’ll have our next. It won’t be feasible to move back to the states, so we’ll either be living in Korea by then (you get absorbed into their universal health care there) or fly down to Thailand (2k birth packages and actual opportunity for natural & water births). We sure wish Europe had jus soli! I would smuggle myself over, for sure! ;)

    • Heather Carreiro

      Many of our expat friends in Pakistan would go to Thailand annually for all their medical needs and always raved about the treatment and the prices. 2k birth packages with those kind of options make Thailand look like a really attractive option…gosh I could fly there a month beforehand, stay there for a month after the birth and probably spend LESS than I will here in the US even with insurance. Tempting…

      • http://wonderandwander.com Ameya

        Yep! Japan is super expensive for births too (I think they don’t consider it a health issue so it’s not part of insurance or some such), and I had an expat friend a few months ago who flew out there for a month (with her husband & son) and the husband flew back to japan and then back to thailand around the due date, they lived in a great temporary apartment and had great care still costing a fraction of what it would have in Japan… it’s crazy! OBs/Hospitals everywhere in what we’d consider the “developed” world are way out of control.

  • http://ytravelblog.com Caz Makepeace

    Great post. My husband and I have thought about this a lot for when we have our second child. We were going to have it in America until I compared the cost and actual birth experience to home in Oz. I found here in America, the control was more in the hands of the doctors and less in mine. Where as in Australia I can say exactly how I wanted my birth to be. The experience of the birth of my first child was so calm and beautiful that I felt I could not replicate that the way I wanted in the US. Not only that but with free health care, it did not cost me anything. And our government gives you a tax free baby bonus when you give birth. These really were arguments that won the case for having our second child, when its time, back in Oz. So it is really important to think of things like this

    • Heather Carreiro

      Wow, so happy to hear you such a positive experience in Australia. I’ve been struggling to ‘navigate’ the US system so I can feel comfortable (and in control) while giving birth here in the states.

  • Jackie

    Believe it or not, my husband and I were living in Iran in the 1970′s when we became pregnant. We had finished two years of Peace Corps service, and were working in the private sector in the beautiful city of Isfahan. Iran was rapidly modernizing at the time, and there were excellent hospitals and medical facilities. We had many friends there, both Iranian and expat, and we decided to have the baby there.

    Our son was born in 1977. We left when he was three months old, just a few months before the Iranian revolution, carrying his American birth certificate and passport and all the documents for his Iranian citizenship should we decide to pursue it. Needless to say, with the Shah leaving just months after we did and the Islamic Republic installed, we did not choose to apply for Iranian citizenship for our son.

    He and his younger brother did grow up eating Persian food, playing on Persian rugs, and hearing us speak Farsi to each other. The understanding and empathy fostered by the experience of having a child overseas still permeates our family’s worldview. We would do it exactly the same way again, even with everything that’s happened since, or maybe especially so, because we are able to speak of the human side of that very misunderstood country.

    • Heather Carreiro

      Thanks for sharing Jackie! You’re so right that exposing children to different cultures and languages is key in shaping worldview and fostering understanding.

      My husband and I would love to live and work in Iran. I’m hoping I’ll get my Portuguese citizenship soon which could open up doors for employment and visas, but I’m not sure if being dual American citizens would still be a catch. We’ll have to wait and see!

  • Jasna

    Hi,
    I am interested if there is birthright citizenship in Portugal?
    Jasna

    • Heather Carreiro

      Not in the same way that the US and Canada offer it – only if the parents are nationals of a Portuguese speaking country (as the official language) and have been living in Portugal for at least six years. Otherwise, if the parents are not from a country where Portuguese is the official language and have been living in Portugal for at least 10 years (not as civil servants), the parents can apply for citizenship for themselves and the child.

      Read about it on Numbers USA:

      http://www.numbersusa.com/content/node/7628

  • Karla

    Good evening Heather,

    We are looking foward to start our own family but I have a question one that I have not being able to find the answer to in the whole of the internet, amazing, ah!?

    This is the questions… can you reject the birthright (jus solis) of the country your child was born in?

    I read the information from the US embassy in the country we are living in and it is not easy to apply for a citizenship for a baby, specially because we have not being living in the USA for a long time. Plus I am not a USA citizen but my hubby is. He has being living abroad now for over 12 years. sniff, sniff, any recommendations on this?

  • tara

    hi, thanks for good info you shared with us, I have a question you may help, do you know any European country which give citizenship to a child born abroad? (while non of parents are resident)
    regards

    • Heather Carreiro

      Sorry Tara I don’t believe any European countries offer birthright citizenship.

  • Barbara

    This is great news! i would love dual citizenship for my kids basically because of good education and exposure, i had picked France but their birthright policies are complex, i’ll pick the United states or Canada. I want to know if a seven months old pregnant lady would be granted a visa, since she has not gone to the States before and how the medical arena would take this? (Prenatal care)

    • Heather Carreiro

      Hi Barbara,

      I’m not sure about Canada, but health care in the US is very expensive unless somehow you have international health insurance that covers labor and delivery in the US. You can expect to pay at least $10,000 for a vaginal delivery and $20,000+ for a C-section. You’d most likely have to pay for all of your prenatal care out of pocket, which will run up your bills very fast even if you’re just visiting an OB every 2 weeks and not getting any special tests done.

      Some hotels offer “birth tourism” packages. Contact Marmara Manhattan (I’ve read this hotel has one) for monthly rates/packages in New York City.

      As for the visa, you should contact your nearest embassy or consulate to find out about visa application procedures.

  • Eliza

    Thanks, finally a great and informative website and artical.

    I am six months pregnant with my third child and am wondering about delivering in Mexico. I am a Canadian citizen and would plan on returning to Canada after the birth. My questions are these:

    1. Would I need a visa? Or could I just purchase a regular plane ticket?
    2. Is this practice accepted or frowned upon?
    3. What about cost? Could I obtain insurance in Canada that would cover the delivery?
    4. After the birth would the baby have dual citizenship? And how much work would it be to get the child back into Canada?

    Any info would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks

  • H.D.S

    HI, thanks a lot for the great article..
    I have a question and i hope that you could answer me fast
    my wife is pregnant now and we r considering of going to Brazil
    do you know how much does it cost giving birth to a child at the hospitals there in Brazil?
    i really need to know about that so i could arrange for that..cause i have no idea about the costs there
    thanks again

  • Elly

    Hi, my husband and I are planning on moving to Brazil next year on an investment visa and we are also hoping to plan for our second child. I’m trying to find out more information on the maternity hospitals (we will be near Natal) and how to get suitable health insurance. I wondered if you know anything about insurance or have heard of any good maternity hospitals in or near Natal? Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks.
    Elly :o)

    • Heather Carreiro

      Hi Elly,

      Unfortunately I don’t know anything more specific about giving birth in Brazil, perhaps you could try expat forums? There are certainly a lot of foreigners working there and I’m sure somebody could give you firsthand advice.

      Heather

  • Diana

    This is wonderful. My husband I were just talking about this today so it’s great to hear that we are not the only ones trying to do this. We got married a year and a half ago and plan to have a baby next year…but we can’t decide where.

    We live in Spain (my husband is Spanish) and I am Canadian. I have dual citizenship (with the UK through my mother) and we want our kids to get dual citizenship (Canadian and Spanish).

    What I am wondering is…how would we go about organzing it? I mean…we live in Spain…can I just pick up and go to Canada for a couple of months to give birth? Is that looked down upon…or exploiting the health system there?

    I’m going to do some more research but maybe someone can help…would we be better off having our baby in Spain or in canada.

    I might feel more comfortable in Canada…with my family, friends and everyone speaking English but I also am much healthier here in spain (diet, exercise etc).

    Any opinions?

    Thanks so much for the great article!
    Diana

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  • Jackie

    Hi im from Monterrey in México and as you may know we are living a drug war its been very difficult times to me and my family with everyone shooting across the whole city, im 2 months pregnant and the last thing i want to my child is to live in a place like this, im 21 and my husband is 25 we are kinda scared about the whole situation but we know moving to canada would be the best for the future of our child…so does anybody has any idea how much would be the costs of giving birth if we are both foreigns without insurance just the tourist visa.
    I would really appreciate your help!
    Thanks a lot for your article

  • john

    I am from Nigeria…….Would love my children to have dual citizenship…Which country can you recommend,that have good medicare at the lowest price.

  • Manu

    Hi,

    Nice and informative article. :)
    Actually I am still confused as what to do next? I am here in US on H1B and my husband will come shortly here on H1B itself. We are from India. Actually I don’t want baby here, but because of family pressure and considering my age, I am advised to have baby soon, also we can’t go back to India soon as our employer will not allow us to go early. So shall i give birth here? But I got scared after reading the point number 2. My query is – suppose I give birth a baby here and If we return back to India permanently just after 4/5 months of his/her birth, then would my baby be able to servive in India peacefully wothout any interventation from US govt and he/she can have Indian citizenship only?

    • Heather Carreiro

      If you give birth in the US your child will be entitled to birthright citizenship, although you’re not required to apply for it if you (the parents) are citizens of another country.

      Here’s some more info on the tax liability for US citizens living overseas: http://www.taxmeless.com/IRS593Publication.htm

      Generally citizens living overseas are exempt up to a certain amount of income (in 2009 I think it was around $90,000 – but don’t quote me on that!) that has been earned overseas, so unless your son/daughter makes REAL big bucks, he probably won’t need to worry too much about paying US taxes.

    • Sami

      hi ,indian national not allowed to keep dual citizenship and if your child  in future workin in india he will be liable to pay tax to us govt.too many factors see consultant.sami

  • Cala

    My husband and I are looking into this as well. We are both US citizens, but are thinking of having our next child in Costa Rica. If you or anyone else have any information or experience with birth rights and dual citizenship in Costa Rica I would appreciate it. Thanks!

  • Imran Mehr

    Hi, thanks for the nice but very informative article. I and my wife are the citizens of Pakistan and currently we both are studying in Germany. As part of our studies we need to spend a semester abroad. We’re also planning to give birth to a baby. So, I want to ask that is there any European country offering citizenship birth rights to Pakistani couple?
    Or can we have it easily in Canada?

    • Silvia

      Why Canada? Why not US? I think your baby would have more opportunities in US anyway…

  • kate

    Hi, your article is the best i have read so far.  Very informative, I know someone who is in south Africa and wants to have her baby here. Her concern is the cost with no insurance. Do you have any idea on how much it can cost?
    Thanks

  • Elizabeth

    Hello! I´m from Guatemala and my boyfriend is from Ethiopia… because of the situation we are living in my country (not safe at all to live here) we were planning to have our baby abroad and actually look for better job opportunities in the country we choose. We both hold a Master Degree now, so we think we could find something good in countries like Canada. 

    Any information about having a baby in Canada? and job opportunities for foreigners there? Thank you! 

    • Silvia

      It’s a lot harder now, but if you come as a refugee it can happen. Why Canada though? Why not US? Better opportunities int he long run anyway. I have both Canadian and American and I prefer my American any day.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QPBATSB7LZPNP264W5ZIWMRRGY Balbir

    hi, thanks for your nice article. I and my wife are the citizen of India and currently I am studying in UK and my is also with me.She wife is pregnant and we are planning to give birth to our baby in European country offering citizenship birth rights to an Indian couple? Can we do it easily in any European nation?

    • Devprasad65

      no european country offers this. while many offers by giving lotts of conditions like staying in that country for x no of years …..if you are living in UK, it s better to take a tourist visa to US and deliver there, of course if you can afford it.

  • guest

    Hi, thanks for the article I think it’s very helpful. I am from Kosovo, me and my girlfriend we both have B1B2 tourist visa to US and it’s good for three years also are planing to give a birth in US. Please can anyone help me in this any advise. I would like to know how it’ll be possible? Will the State give citizenship to the child right away and also what happens to parents who are on tourist visa? Will they also get citizenship and how? Thank you for you time!
    Blessings

  • Nankwaken

    Canada would be the best. How do i get there from Ghana is another matter any help?

    • Silvia

      Same…How is Canada best? i don’t get why you want Canada and not US? I have both but i prefer my US over Canada

  • http://profiles.google.com/heatherfoster1 Heather Foster

    Awesome article! You’ve definitely gotten some interesting feedback! 

  • jaipal singh

    hi iam from india and coming on vistor visa to meet my wife she is on study permit and after 4 months she will be eligible for open work permit .both of us decided to have a child can i stay with them and extend my visa because my passport is with cbsa officials when i arrived in canada the official was not satified with me that i leave canada and on the bond of $5000 i release please tell me what can i do to stay here and planing a family.  

  • http://www.shutterbugexperience.com/ Photography

    Nice, thanks for the share.

  • Destiny_hir711

    how to get permanent residence by giving birth in canada,where parents are indian

    • Silvia

      Why Canada? Why not US?

  • Laurawood

    hi,am a nigerian though i came to malaysia to study and am as well pregnant,if i give birth in malaysia is my child entitled to their citizenship if yes are we parent also entitled for their citizenship also?
     

  • jay

    oh this is soo cool I think Im going to get prego and go to England for awhile that way my baby will be Caadian-British :)

  • Kymisty

    My brother and his wife are in the airforce. They are in Italy. She is pregnant and due in July, first part of August. They said the baby has to stay there for 6 months before they can leave. Does anyone know why this is?

  • Zakk

    Me & my wife are Filipino with employment visa here in UAE. She is now 6 months pregnant we are planning to give birth on US what are the necessary steps and costs to do this? Thank you!

  • rampike

    i am a canadian married to a thai and am due in october 2012. im weighing the pros and cons of where to have baby. the baby either way will get both of our citizenships because we are married but im not sure about being away from my family during the labor and beginning days of babies life. what do you think ?!
    is it too complicated to travel there for the birth and stay for a few months and then travel back? 
    will i have trouble upon entry into thailand with my newborn?
    Many things to consider! 

  • Sowemimo Olalekan

    Hi, heather
    i am flaky from Nigeria.Thank you for this information.i have had three caesarean sections but recently find out I am expecting another baby. I’m a bit apprehensive, I want good medicare which is a bit elusive here.Is it possible to give birth abroad? how do I go about it? is there any organization that can help because I might not be able to meet the financial demand it might involve.

  • Michael J Seeherman

    What happened to Europe listings?

  • Cherie Vincent

    I would like to warn women thinking about having a baby in a country other than their own of some issues not published on this page.

    Be very aware of the Hague convention – if your partner has parental responsibility and your relationship breaks down, you will not be able to relocate in your home country without his permission. A family member is currently awaiting a court order and charges of abduction, when she was escaping a bad relationship and potentional violence. As the law stands there is NOTHING to protect women’d rights to decide to move back home with their kids.

  • Melissa Alarcon

    International Obstetric Services for women who wish to deliver their baby in the USA.
    http://www.doctoresparati.com

    • José Inés Arzola Arzabala

      Bienvenida, amiga

  • Esmeralda Detour

    I had my chilbirth in the U.S. through the clinic mentioned below (www.doctoresparati.com). They treated me extremely well and great practical service. Im going to have my next baby with them again

  • Alvaro

    you can have the baby anywhere you want… why go to the USA? your man is already an american citizen so your child will automatically be an american citizen, too….

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