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Proof of Citizenship

You must present identification proving your citizenship while applying for a US passport. Primary Forms and Secondary Forms are the two types of citizenship documentation available. The most often used primary forms must be originals; photocopies will not be allowed. You can demonstrate your US citizenship using any of the following:

Acceptable Proof of Citizenship Documents

1. Birth Certificate: Originals or copies that the state has certified are required. A raised, stamped, embossed, or colored seal can be found on certified birth certificates. (Standard Long Form).

2. Delayed Birth Certificate: For individuals who were registered more than a year after birth, a delayed birth certificate was issued.

This is only acceptable if it has the paperwork required to produce it and is:

– Acknowledged by the doctor or midwife.

– Displays earlier public records

– Compiles a parent-signed affidavit.

3. Abroad Certification of Birth: Citizens of the United States who were born abroad are given an abroad birth certification.

4. Previous US Passport – Older US passports cannot be changed or damaged.

5. File Search – For anyone who received a US passport after 1980 but no longer have it in their possession or their birth certificate, the US Department of State conducts a file search. This is a required checkbox on the DS-11 application, and the additional amount of $150 will be added to your government fee.

6. Naturalization Certificate: Documents you received after obtaining US citizenship.

If you don’t have any of these primary citizenship proofs, you’ll need to look into citizenship proofs that are accepted as secondary citizenship.

Secondary Forms of Citizenship

When a candidate does not have a Primary Form of Citizenship, Secondary Forms of Citizenship are employed. Recognize that no two applicants have the same circumstances, and that each passport application is handled individually. No individual submissions of Secondary Forms are permitted. You must submit these along with a birth record, a letter of no record, and early birth records.

Records of early birth

Your name, birth date, and place must all appear in early birth records, which must have been made no later than five years after your birth. They are not recognized alone and may consist of:

  • Hospital Birth Certificate
  • Baptismal Certificate
  • Family Bible Record
  • Census Record
  • Early School Record
  • Doctor’s Record of post-natal care

You will need to send one of the following items along with the early birth records:

1. Delayed Birth Certificate – When a birth is registered a year or more after the event, a delayed birth certificate is issued. It must contain the following:

  • The Creation Documentation (like early public records)
  • Include an affidavit signed by the parents or be signed by the birth attendant

2. Letter of No Record: A letter from the state stating that a search for your birth record was conducted and that, as a result, no records of your birth were discovered.

  •  Your name
  • Date of Birth
  • Years where a birth record search was conducted, but no records of births were discovered

3. DS-10 Birth Affidavit Form: This official document must be:

  •  Notarized
  •  The form must be completed by a person who has first-hand knowledge of your US birth, such as an elder blood relative or attending physician.
  • Describe their specific knowledge of your US birth in a brief sentence.

Frequently asked questions about proof of
citizenship and birth certificates

I was born abroad. How do I get a birth certificate?

If either or both of your parents is/was a U.S. citizen when you were born abroad, either or both of your parent(s) should/should have registered your birth at a U.S. embassy or consulate, and, obtain/received a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, Form FS-240. This form is good enough to be a legal proof of birth and U.S. citizenship.

What if I cannot find my birth certificate?

If you have had a previous passport, you can do a file search and the passport agency will look up your old passport for a fee of $150 and a letter requesting a file search; you can use an old, in good condition passport for proof of citizenship; you can also order a birth certificate on-line or obtain one from the county you were born in.

Where can I get a copy of my birth certificate?

An official Certificate of Birth should be on file in the locality where the event occurred. The Federal Government does not maintain files or indexes of these records. These records are filed permanently in a State’s vital statistics office or in a city, county, or other local office. To obtain a certified copy of the Birth Certificate, write or go to the vital statistics office in the State or area where you were born. For expedited services you can use Vitalchek.

Will I get my birth certificate back?

Yes, all your legal documentation will be returned to you. Sometimes it is included in the same envelope with your passport, however occasionally they will follow in a separate mailing.