The following are the people that are required to show proof of citizenship when applying for a passport: First-time passport applicants, minors under age 16, applicants whose previous passport was issued before the age of 16, applicants who have changed their name (by marriage or otherwise), applicants whose last passport was issued more than 15 years ago, and applicants who are applying to replace a lost, stolen, or damaged passport. They must apply for their passports in person and present proof of citizenship at that time.
A valid US passport may be used as proof of citizenship. For applicants who cannot present a valid passport, a certified birth certificate is the preferred proof of citizenship.
How Far in Advance Should You Apply for Your Passport?
You should apply for your passport as soon as you decide to travel abroad. It may take you a long time to assemble the required documents and get a passport application appointment. Applying early will save you money, too, because you will not have to pay for expedited processing.
What Are the Requirements for Using My Birth Certificate as Proof of Citizenship?
On April 1, 2011, the US Department of State changed its requirements for birth certificates used as proof of citizenship for passport applications.
All certified birth certificates submitted as proof of citizenship must now include the full names of your parent(s). In addition, the certified birth certificate must include the full name of the passport applicant, his or her date and place of birth, the signature of the registrar, the date the birth certificate was issued and a multicolored, embossed, raised or impressed seal from the birth certificate's issuing authority.
The issuance date of your birth certificate must be within one year of your birth. The birth certificate must be original. No photocopies will be accepted. Notarized copies will not be accepted.
What If My Birth Certificate Does Not Meet State Department Requirements?
If your birth certificate does not meet these requirements and you wish to apply for a US passport, you may submit another primary proof of citizenship document. Examples include your naturalization certificate, a citizenship certificate, or a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Report of Birth, which is a document that is issued by a US embassy or consulate when a child is born outside the US to a parent who is a US citizen.
What If I Do Not Have a Birth Certificate?
You may also submit secondary proof of citizenship if your birth certificate does not meet the State Department's requirements or if you do not have a birth certificate. The documents you submit should include your full name and date and place of birth. If possible, submit documents created before you were six years old.
Types of Secondary Proof of Citizenship Documents
You must provide the State Department with at least two of these four secondary proof of citizenship documents:
- A delayed birth certificate issued more than one year after your birth, that bears either the signatures of your parents or the signature of your birth attendant, and includes a list of documents used to create it.
- A Letter of No Record issued and officially sealed by a registrar in your state of birth. A Letter of No Record includes your name, date of birth, birth record year search information, and a statement that searches of public records did not result in the location of your birth certificate.
- A notarized Birth Affidavit (State Department Form DS-10) from an older blood relative or the physician who attended at your birth, attesting to the date and place of your birth.
- Documents from your early childhood, preferably more than one, such as:
- Family Bible entry documenting your birth
- Baptismal certificate, if issued within one year of your birth
- Birth certificate issued by the hospital where you were born
- Census records from early childhood
- School records from early childhood
- Medical records from your early infancy
These secondary documents will provide the State Department with a clear record of your citizenship. If you are relying on documents from your early childhood to prove your US citizenship, submit as many documents as you can so that the State Department has plenty of evidence that you are a citizen.
What Happens to the Documents Submitted With My Passport Application?
The passport office staff will take your application, passport photo, birth certificate, or other proof of citizenship, copy of your government identification card and passport fee, and submit all of these items to the Department of State for processing. Your birth certificate or proof of citizenship documents will be returned to you by mail. You may receive your passport in a separate mailing, or your passport and documents may arrive together.
For more information, visit the website of the US Department of State.