If you’re an expatriate and you’re having a baby in Guatemala, be ready for some paperwork. It takes work, but it’ll be worth it.
As new missionaries in this beautiful country, we moved to Guatemala while we were pregnant and started getting all the advice we could on what paperwork we needed for our baby. Here are some of the things we learned…
If you’re anywhere within three months of the birth go to the US Embassy website and set up an appointment for a couple weeks after the due date. (UPDATE: As of(May 2014 the US embassy in Guatemala now only opens appointments about one month prior to the appointment date. So you’ll have to check in about a month ahead of the date you want.) These appointments fill up and it can be very difficult to get in if you don’t get something scheduled early. You can change it if you have to, but better to have the appointment scheduled than to find out you can’t get an appointment for two or three months after the baby is born when you may be wanting to travel.
TIP: I think you could probably have your spouse sign up so you have two dates to chose from. Then just cancel the appointment you don’t want!
Step 2: Make sure you have your important papers from the U.S.
Get these things from the U.S. ahead of time:
- Parents Birth Certificates
- Parent’s Marriage License
- Proof that shows you spent at least four years in the U.S. after your 16th birthday. College transcripts, tax records and other documents that document your presence in the U.S. should do the trick.
- If you or your spouse is Guatemala, then you’ll probably want to have photos of the wedding, photos showing the two of you together during the pregnancy and so on. These may be requested by the interviewer.
- (Updated 2014: Here’s a great guide from the embassy covering what you need and a guide for the photo you’ll need.)
Step 3: Know where RENAP is.
Find our where your local RENAP office is. This will be where you go to get your Guatemalan birth certificate (you’ll need this for our US Embassy appointment.) You will need the birth document from your midwife or doctor and your personal identification for mother and father. Passports are best for this.
Step 4: Go to RENAP
Take these with you:
- Original passports of both parents OR take your Guatemalan DPIs if you have them.
- Both parents (Have both parents with you or you’ll have to come back.)
- Copy of original passports (copy the whole thing just in case)
- Original signed and sealed birth document from your midwife or doctor.
Go the the RENAP office in the same community where your child was born or go to the central RENAP office. If you must go to the RENAP office in the community where you live and it’s not the same as where the child was born, take a rental receipt, electricity bill or something similar that proves that you live in that community or they won’t let you fill out the paper work.
You’ll need to pay a boleto (about 40 quetzales) for the processing and then pay per certificate that you want. I recommend you get 6 official copies while you’re there. We sent two back to the States for safe keeping, kept two on hand and used one for his Guatemalan Passport paperwork and one for his US paperwork.
Ask at the desk and they’ll direct you through the process. We had very good success on passing through the system quickly when we went to the main RENAP office in Guatemala City.
Here’s how the RENAP birth certificate process worked for us.
Usually you file the paperwork. then you have to pay for the copies of the certificate at the BanRural bank (Usually there’s a bank office at the RENAP office.). After that you take the payment receipt to one of the office workers and then listen for you name to be called with the signed official copies
STEP 5: Fill out US paperwork
Get all the forms you need at the embassy website:
- Report of American Birth Abroad
- Passport Application
- Get two passport photos of your child (I know he/she’s little but they want it anyway! Ours was only 3 days old when we got his photos taken!)
- Check on all fees to make sure you have the money you’ll need. (Note they do take credit cards if necessary.)
- If you aren’t going to be back in the U.S. you can get your child’s Social Security number but it takes six months! Embassy personnel told us it’s better to get the Social Security number in the states because it only takes a couple days vs. six months.
STEP 6: Go to your US Embassy Appointment
Make sure to be there on time and take your appointment confirmation sheet with you. You got this when you set your appointment.
Read here to see how to navigate the US Embassy in Guatemala.
As long as the interview goes well, you should have your documents for the baby in about 10 days!
Becoming a Guatemalan Resident? Check out how we got our paperwork ready for the Guatemalan residency process or plan to make a lot of trips to visa renewal trips to Mexico or beyond.
80% of babies born in hospitals in Guatemala are born by Caesarean Section surgery. If you want a natural child birth experience then you probably had better make other plans.
Here’s a German midwife with a clinic in Guatemala City and who speaks great English, Spanish and German and proved to be a great help to us! She’s based in Guatemala City and Antigua.