What do I Need for Proof of Citizenship?

When you apply for a passport, you need to provide proof of citizenship. The government is very specific about the documents that will be accepted as evidence of U.S. citizenship when obtaining a passport.

If you’re preparing to travel abroad you don’t want to be delayed because the documentation you provide for is inadequate, so it is very important that you follow the government’s instructions carefully. Whenever possible, you should provide primary evidence of citizenship. If you don’t have any of the documents that qualify as primary evidence of citizenship, you can provide secondary evidence of citizenship.

Primary Evidence of U.S. Citizenship:

You can submit any one of the following documents as primary evidence of citizenship:

  • Your most recent passport. If you have your old passport, and it is not damaged, you can use it as proof of citizenship. If it has been damaged (not including normal wear and tear), you must provide other evidence of citizenship.
  • A certified birth certificate with the registrar’s seal, signature and the date it was filed with the registrar’s office, which must be within one year of birth. The certificate must also include the full names of both parents.
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth. If you were born outside of the United States to parents who are U.S. Citizens, these documents serve as an official record of U.S. citizenship.

  • Naturalization certificate. Individuals who obtain citizenship through the naturalization process can use the naturalization certificate they are issued as proof of citizenship.
  • Certificate of citizenship. Individuals who obtain citizenship while living in the United States are issued certificates of citizenship to show they are U.S. citizens.
  • Secondary Evidence of Citizenship:

    If you are unable to submit primary evidence of citizenship, you must submit secondary evidence of citizenship. The following documents are acceptable as secondary evidence of citizenship.

  • Early public records. A group of early public records such as a baptismal certificate, census record or doctor’s records may be submitted in conjunction with a birth record or letter of no record to show proof of citizenship. It is best if they were issued before you turned five, and they should include your name, date of birth and place of birth.
  • Delayed birth certificate. If your birth certificate wasn’t filed before your first birthday, you can submit a delayed birth certificate if it shows the documents used to create it (e.g. early public records), and it includes the signature of the birth attendant or an affidavit signed by your parents.
  • Letter of No Record. If you don’t have a birth certificate, you can have the state in which you were born issue a “letter of no record” that shows your name, your date of birth, how long you searched for your birth certificate and an acknowledgement that it could not be found. A letter of no record cannot be submitted alone as proof of citizenship. It must be submitted with early public records.
  • DS-10 Birth Affidavit. If you do not have primary evidence of citizenship, you can submit a birth affidavit in conjunction with early public records to show evidence of citizenship. For complete details on obtaining a birth affidavit, visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
  • Foreign Birth Certificate and Parents’ Evidence of Citizenship. If you were born abroad and do not have a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth, you can submit an English translation of your foreign birth certificate. You will also need to provide evidence of your parents’ citizenship, your parents’ marriage certificate and a statement given by your parents that includes all of the places they lived before you were born, including when they lived in the United States.
  • All documentation you provide as proof of citizenship will be returned to you with your passport, or it will be mailed to you separately.

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