What You Should Know About Giving Birth Abroad

More often than not, expat moms-to-be, are torn on whether to give birth in their host country or fly back home. For international teachers, wives of expats, or employees of multi-nationals located abroad, giving birth abroad is the only option. Why? For one, most airlines have restrictions on pregnant women flying near their due date, and it is not easy to just pack and leave to give birth to one’s home country, then fly back in again to the host country after.

Giving birth abroad has some merits and one of those is a second citizenship for the child. North, South and Central American countries practice jus soli, which means a baby born in that country automatically become a citizen of that country. In most countries, the practice of jus sanguinis wherein citizenship is determined by the child’s parent or parents’ citizenship.

Prior to 1972, Thailand practiced jus soli: but due to the influx of illegal immigration from Burma, it has become law that both parents must have legally live in Thailand for at least 5 years.  Malaysia, Hong Kong, Australia, Germany, Iran, Cambodia, New Zealand and more do not recognize jus soli.


Things to Consider

If you have the option to give birth in a host country, there are various things to consider.

Dual Citizenship Clause – Even if one’s host country honor’s jus soli, one’s home country or host country may not offer dual citizenship. Though there are countries that do allow dual citizenship, they only do so with a small number of countries.  In this connection, it is best to find out the host and home countries’ law on dual citizenship. Note that children of diplomats and other government official from other countries are not recognized US citizens if born in America.

Military Service Conditions –  There are countries that require compulsory, and voluntary military service for their citizens. In Thailand, 18 years old may volunteer for military services, and for those aged 21 an above, compulsory military service is required for a 2- year enlistment service. In

Liability on Taxes –Countries such as the USA tax income that is earned or gained in other countries. Some countries do not recognize tax global income and will not collect taxes for those living abroad. In a sense a US dual citizen will pay more in income taxes as he is required to pay home and host’s income taxes.

Security Policies

Due to global threats and acts of terrorism, more and more countries are adding precautionary measures to citizens of Arab and Muslim nations. After 9/11, the US has adopted the policy of questioning and fingerprinting Muslims and Arabs who enter US ports of entry. Pakistan practices jus soli but one should take into consideration that Pakistanis are subjected to sterner immigration and travel laws.

College Education Cost

In most jus soli countries that offer birthright citizenship, basic education in public schools is free. However, the cost of college education varies, but most public colleges and universities offer much lower school fees, or subsidized college education for permanent residents and citizens.

Prenatal Care, Delivery, Maternity Leave

Prenatal care and delivery options in a host country may not be exactly the same as offers in one’s home country. In this connection, it is very important to find out the common practices of a host country relating to this concern. Cost could be a problem to more so if prenatal care and delivery are not covered by the expectant mother’s health insurance.  However, most hospitals afford maternity packages that cover prenatal care and delivery.

Maternity and paternal leave offered by the expectant couple’s company may be different too. In some countries, these leaves can be as short as 7 days, and as long as over a year. In Sweden, paid parental leave is as long as 480 days.  In Thailand, 90 days maternity leave with full pay of 45 days from employer and 45 days from Social Welfare fund. In the United States, 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave is offered.

It is also a good idea to check out hospitals as practices may differ.  Some hospitals in Asian countries require patients and companion to take off their shoes and wear hospital-issued sandals.

After the birth, one should take time to report to one’s home country embassy to register and apply for the baby’s passport.


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