Royal Babies, Latin Trivia, and Children Born Abroad

May 8, 2019

On the happy occasion of the birth of a baby boy to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – we take this opportunity to discuss children born abroad, citizenship, and what expectant mums and dads on international assignment need to know.

By Kent O’Neil

Photo credit: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex/Chris Allerton/Twitter

With extensive teams in both the UK and the U.S. – Newland Chase team members in our London and Houston regional hubs were reportedly making excuses to pop into the break rooms Monday morning to check the TV news. The Duchess of Sussex was in labor.

Then, just before 3pm BST, proud Harry appeared to the assembled media to announce that Meghan had given birth to a boy, and both mum and baby were doing “incredibly well”. The official Buckingham Palace statement followed with the weight of 7lbs 3oz and a delivery time of 5:26am BST. Congratulations to the Royal Family!

While this brought to a close months of speculation regarding the birth date and gender, those faithfully following the story continued to speculate a bit longer – on the name (released minutes before this blog was published) and the official title (Earl? Duke? Prince?). Officially, the new baby is expected to be the Earl of Dumbarton. However, there is some speculation that his great-grandmother, the Queen, might act to bestow upon her new great-grandson another royal title.

Then just as we were about to post this blog – The Royal Family and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex Twitter feeds announced that a name had been chosen… (drumroll)… Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.

Cookie or Biscuit?

For those not yet ready to relinquish their royal baby musings and speculation – let me take the opportunity of this week’s blog to assist. Submitted for your consideration:

  • With a British dad and an American mum… is Archie British or American?
  • When he asks for a treat with his milk… will it be a cookie or biscuit?
  • Will he play cricket or baseball? Football with a helmet or without?
  • Eton College or Northwestern University?
  • Will he be a soldier and statesman or an actor?
  • Will he prefer baked beans and cooked tomatoes with his bacon and eggs or hash brown potatoes?
  • When he grows up… will he want to be King or President? Maybe both? If he has a younger brother or sister… could he be King and the sibling President?
  • If Parliament is still debating Brexit when he reaches adulthood… will he prefer leave or remain?

Archie’s Citizenship Status

In a previous blog, we already established that the Duchess of Sussex is a U.S. citizen and will be for at least another four years. See “How-to Guide” for an American British Princess Immigrating to the UK. Thus, Archie is the son of a UK national father and a U.S. national mother. So is he British, American, or both?

He was born Monday on British soil to a British father – so he clearly ticks all the boxes to be a British citizen. Is he also a United States citizen as well?

According to the U.S. State Department, a child born in wedlock to one American citizen and one “alien” while the couple is abroad automatically acquires U.S. citizenship at birth, as long as the American parent has lived in the United States for at least five years (which – Meghan has). So the young Earl of Dumbarton is both a UK and U.S. citizen.

Jus Soli and Jus Sanguinis: Some Latin Just to Impress Your Friends

Fundamentally, the citizenship of a newborn baby is governed by two time-honored legal principles: “jus soli” and “jus sanguinis”. Citizenship of newborns is then determined by how a particular country applies those two principles.

Jus soli is the Latin phrase meaning “right of soil”, i.e. citizenship is determined by the land where birth takes place. True jus soli citizenship is now relatively rare. It exists primarily in the Western Hemisphere. The United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina all have a form of jus soli. A baby born on U.S. or Canadian soil is automatically eligible for that country’s citizenship. (With one narrow exception, where the parents were in the U.S. on diplomatic visas.)

Jus sanguinis – Latin for “right of blood” – is also found alongside jus soli in many nations, as well as in nations that do not recognize jus soli. Jus sanguinis is the primary citizenship principle in the Eastern Hemisphere. The UK, most European countries, China, and India primarily use jus sanguinis. A baby born to a citizen of the country is automatically eligible for that country’s citizenship, regardless of where in the world he or she is born.

Most countries employ a mix of jus soli and jus sanguinis. The two principles may provide alternative means to citizenship – or may be combined as criterion for citizenship. For example, a baby born in the UK or Australia acquires that country’s citizenship only if at least one parent is a citizen or permanent resident. In the United States, citizenship can be acquired either by being born in the United States or being born abroad with at least one U.S. citizen parent.

What About Marriage?

However, one caveat to keep in mind is the marital status of the mother and father. If the citizenship preferred for the baby is based on the father’s citizenship, and the mother and father are not legally married at the time of the birth abroad – there may be additional proof steps required. For the United States, the U.S. citizen father may be required to establish the blood relationship beyond simply a foreign birth certificate and sign assurances to financially support the child. For the United Kingdom, the UK citizen father being listed on the official birth certificate is sufficient.

Children Born to Assignees Abroad

While the above discussion of Archie’s citizenship and Latin-named legal theories may seem esoteric for this week’s blog – it has a practical real world application for international assignees and their families.

As a purely hypothetical example, let’s say… Meghan (a U.S. citizen, computer programmer and part-time actress) is sent by her employer on a long-term assignment in London. While there, she works with Harry (a UK citizen, bank executive and former second lieutenant in the British Army). They meet, fall in love, a whirlwind romance ensues, and nine months later, baby Archie is born.     

Abroad country citizenship: Archie is eligible for UK citizenship under the jus sanguinis law of the United Kingdom, as his father is a British citizen.

Home country citizenship: Archie is also eligible for U.S. citizenship under the jus sanguinis law of the United States, as his mother is a U.S. citizen.

Note, however, that the result depends on the facts of each situation and the law of both the assignee’s home country and the country where the child is born.

Changing the above example just a bit… Meghan is sent on assignment to London, but instead falls in love with Hiran (an Indian citizen, also on assignment in London). In this case, Meghan and Hiran’s son Archie is eligible for U.S. citizenship and Indian citizenship under jus sanguinis – but not to UK citizenship, even though he was born there.

Again changing the example… Meghan (a UK citizen this time) and Harry (again a UK citizen) are both sent on assignment to New York, where baby Archie is born. Because the U.S. has jus soli in its law, Archie is eligible for both UK and U.S. citizenship  despite having no U.S. citizen parent. Confused yet?

Dual Citizenship

To further confuse matters… some countries allow “dual citizenship” – i.e. an individual that simultaneously holds passports of two separate countries. However, other countries do not recognize such dual citizenship. If both the parents’ country of citizenship and the country of the baby’s birth allow (or at least do not object to) dual citizenship – the child has the privilege of both countries’ citizenship and passports. However, if one of the two countries does not permit dual citizenship, the parents may have to elect which country will be the child’s country of citizenship.

Technically, the United States does not recognize dual citizenship. However, that position has softened in recent years as the prevalence of individuals with passports from more than one country has increased. In general, U.S. citizens must enter the United States using their U.S. passport, but there is nothing prohibiting them from also holding a passport issued by another country.

Make it Official

Giving birth abroad while on international assignment is challenging enough. My apologies if I’m making it seem even more daunting by bringing up all the legal stuff. Keep calm and carry on – you’ll have nine months (give or take) to figure it all out. And your trusted Newland Chase and CIBTvisas advisors will be more than happy to help on such a blessed occasion.

Bottom line: Make it official. In addition to documenting the birth of your new son or daughter through the typical local process in place in the country of birth – you will also want to follow your country of citizenship’s process for documenting a citizen born abroad. Almost all countries have a process whereby parents abroad can report the birth of a new citizen. Typically, parents submit an application to their country’s consulate for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or other such proof of citizenship. It is also recommended to apply for a social security number or other national identification number for the country of the baby’s citizenship. 

Additionally, when the mother and/or father is bringing home a baby born abroad for the first time – the baby may need a passport. Consular birth reports are generally not considered acceptable travel documents for most countries. It is always recommended to obtain a passport for your baby from your country’s consulate before returning with them for the first time. Our sister company, CIBTvisas, is the world’s leading global travel visa and passport company and has a fast, convenient online method for obtaining child’s passports for the United States and the United Kingdom.

Also, be aware that many nations have recently adopted rules to combat human trafficking. If one parent is returning with the baby unaccompanied by the other parent – you may need to obtain a document or letter from the non-accompanying parent indicating their consent to the baby entering the country. Check with the embassy when applying for your baby’s passport.

Finally… Could Archie Really Be King or President Someday?

Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor is now seventh in line of succession to the British throne. So the odds of him becoming King of England are exceedingly long. So could he choose to run for President of the United States? Constitutional scholars say “yes”. As an American citizen, he could run for the nation’s highest office – provided he meets the two other qualifying criteria: age 35 or older at the time of taking the oath of office, and a resident in the country for at least 14 years. So Mountbatten-Windsor for President in ’56?

In the complex world of global immigration and international business – it was nice this week to take a more lighthearted look at immigration. Please don’t let the levity of this week’s blog detract from the more serious issues also contained herein. Corporate immigration and international assignments and business travel affect not just company employees – but their partners, children, and other family as well. That’s why Newland Chase takes a holistic approach to corporate immigration. We not only serve our clients’ employees – but their families and future families in any short-term or long-term assignment abroad.

For an overview of Newland Chase’s capabilities in the United Kingdom and contact information for our offices in London, visit the UK Immigration Services page of our website. There you’ll find useful resources on the various visa and immigration routes for the UK, as well as our dedicated Brexit and Immigration resource page. To request a consultation regarding your unique needs in the UK, feel free to reach out to [email protected]. For general enquiries regarding any of the more than 190 countries to and from which we support organizations and individuals with visas and immigration – visit our website at or email [email protected].

Newland Chase, a wholly owned subsidiary of CIBT, is the leading global provider of immigration and visa services for corporations and individuals with over 1,700 expert immigration and visa professionals, attorneys and qualified migration consultants located in over 70 offices in 26 countries.

This publication is not intended as a substitute for legal advice.  Readers are reminded that immigration laws are subject to change. We are not responsible for any loss arising from reliance on this publication. Please contact Newland Chase should you require any additional clarification or case specific advice.