Having a baby can be a joyous time full of anticipation and excitement. But welcoming a newborn can impact your upcoming PCS back to the States.
At first glance the process seems daunting and complicated, but keep reading. What I have to offer will clarify the process. Trust me. I’ve gathered and packaged expert guidance and the testimony of those who have already gone through this process. You can do it! Paperwork should be the last thing that prevents you from enjoying some of the most precious years of your baby’s life.
A friend of mine recently PCSed back stateside within months of having a baby and it opened my eyes to the process of getting a newborn from Germany to the States. She was caught completely off guard in the amount of paperwork involved in the process, so much so that she and her baby were almost left behind while her spouse reported to his new duty station.
Knowing that there are a number of expectant spouses both in my unit and garrison-wide that will be PCSing sooner than anticipated—due to the garrison closure or brigade inactivation—I started to research the steps involved with registering your newborn, getting command sponsorship and perhaps most importantly, getting your baby his or her passport.
Did you know that a baby cannot leave Germany, even with orders, if they do not have a U.S. Passport? It’s true. The average wait time from date of application for to receipt of a U.S. passport overseas can be up to 5 months. What’s more, just because a baby’s parent is command-sponsored does not mean the baby is automatically sponsored. The baby’s parents must apply for command sponsorship separately for their baby, and the process must begin before the baby is born. These small details are often what hold up a smooth move to the States.
So if you’re a parent-to-be, what can you do to avoid any hiccups in PCSing with a new baby?
- Sign up for ACS classes. In the months before your baby is born, check out the New Parent Support Program classes at ACS. Classes such as OB Orientation help to prepare expectant parents for process of birth registration, delivering in a German hospital and navigating the Tricare, DEERs and Passport Offices. The instructors have a wealth of information.
- Talk to your FRSA and your unit’s S1. As soon as you find out you are pregnant you should let both your unit’s FRSA and S1 know. The command sponsorship process (which is necessary in order to obtain a passport) varies depending on each unit and can take anywhere from one day to one month. They will fill out the paperwork and help you figure out the documents necessary during each step of the sponsorship process.
- Keep a checklist handy. During my research, I noticed there wasn’t one central checklist for new parents and parents-to-be to use as a guide from the few months before birth to the time after a newborn arrives. Let’s face it. The amount of paperwork is confusing and burdensome! Something was needed to help keep it all in order. After speaking to ACS instructors, various unit FRSAs and S1s, as well as friends who have gone through PCSing with a newborn, I compiled a checklist of essential steps and documents. And as an added bonus, it’s cute enough to fold up and keep in your babybag.
But what happens if you do follow the steps, manage to submit your paperwork and apply for your baby’s passport, yet the wait time extends beyond your DEROS? Know that you still have options. It is essential to keep your unit’s S1 up to date with your situation in order to request ILS (Installation Logistical Support), apply for emergency travel documents, among other possible solutions that are dealt with on a case-by-case basis. For more information, contact Nacomas Jones of the military personnel division at DSN 353-8919, CIV 09721-96-8919.
So in summation, PREPARATION and organization are key to ensuring a successful and smooth PCS to your next duty station with your newborn!