Ask the Consul December 2016

Question: My five year old daughter was born in the United States but lives here with me in Trinidad and Tobago.  She has never been to the United States since she was born.  Am I obligated to take her to the United States regularly?  What if I want to take her to the United States just for a vacation?

Answer: Thank you for your inquiry. Residing abroad will have no effect on your daughter’s U.S. citizenship. Our law does not require a U.S. citizen to periodically return to the United States in order to preserve their citizenship. As a U.S. Citizen, your daughter may visit anytime as long as she is in possession of a valid U.S. passport.  By law, a U.S. citizen must have a valid U.S. passport in order to reenter the United States. Furthermore, even if there are no plans to travel, it is always recommended for a U.S. Citizen, especially one outside the U.S., to possess a valid passport.  Not only is a passport invaluable for unexpected and immediate travel, but it is a document that is accepted globally to establish both identity and status as a United States citizen. Parents of American citizens, who are not American citizens or Legal Permanent Residents, will require a valid U.S. visa in order to apply for entry to the U.S.

Your daughter can apply for a U.S. passport at the U.S. Embassy in Port of Spain. Information for applying and renewing a U.S. passport can be found on both our website and on the Department of State’s travel website. Additionally, when one of our citizens is residing aboard, we also encourage them to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  STEP is a free service and allows you to receive automatic updates about the foreign country where you will be visiting or living, including Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts.  More detailed information about passport applications, international travel and STEP is available on the Department of State’s travel website at

The U.S. Embassy in Port of Spain offers a range of services to U.S. Citizens visiting and living in Trinidad and Tobago including routine and emergency passport services, report of birth and death of a U.S. citizen abroad, federal benefits and notary services.  Most of these services require you to have an appointment.  Appointments are available on our website at  You can also reach the American Citizen Services section by email at  For emergencies involving U.S. citizens in Trinidad and Tobago, please call the Embassy at 868-622-6371.