How to prove your US Citizenship?

Unlike permanent residents, U.S. citizens are not required to carry proof of citizenship at all times. But from time to time, especially when dealing with governmental agencies, an American citizen may be asked to provide proof of citizenship for certain transactions, like applying for a driver’s license or replacing a Social Security card.

And it’s not just when dealing with the government: when starting a new job, employers are required to ask for proof of citizenship or legal residence before any actual work can begin.

It seems, then, that there can be many moments when you may be asked to provide proof of your U.S. citizenship. What approved documents, then, can you use to provide proof of your American citizenship?

Ways to provide proof of citizenship

While it may seem that there could be many documents that can prove American citizenship, there are only 4 documents that have been approved by U.S. immigration services and that can be used for this purpose.

US. Passport

Because only natural born U.S. citizens and naturalized citizens can be issued a passport, holding a valid U.S. passport issued by the U.S. Secretary of State is enough to prove American citizenship. By law, all U.S. citizens (including those with dual citizenship) are expected to enter or leave the U.S. with a valid passport.

Certificate of Citizenship

Sometimes a person can become a U.S. citizen even though they were not born in the U.S. In these cases, a certificate of citizenship is issued to a person who was born outside the U.S., but who derived or acquired U.S. citizenship through an American parent. A valid certificate of citizenship issued by the authorities can also serve to prove your U.S. citizenship. Find more information about Form N-600, proof of US Citizenship and how to apply for it here.

Birth Certificate

If you were born in the United States, the birth certificate issued by the state where you were born verifies your American citizenship. The birth certificate can also be issued by the U.S. Secretary of State if you were born abroad to parents who are U.S. citizens. This is the quickest and most common way for U.S. citizens to prove their citizenship status.

Naturalization Certification

For those who became an American citizen via a U.S. naturalization ceremony, the naturalization certificate you received at the ceremony’s conclusion verifies your American citizenship. Store this certificate carefully, as to get a replacement certificate of naturalization you’ll need to refile paperwork and pay a hefty fee.

Note that in some cases, U.S. citizens can be allowed the use of early public records to present secondary evidence of citizenship. This can include baptismal certificates, hospital birth certificates, census records, or early school records, among other documents.

While permanent residents are required to carry proof of their legal presence in the United States, one of the biggest advantages of becoming a U.S. citizen is that you will no longer be required to carry proof of your legal status. While the requirements to become an American citizen are various and the process can be long, eligible applicants can start by filling out the citizenship application. The result - American citizenship and a U.S. passport - is well worth it.

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