Proof of U.S. Citizenship


When you apply for a legal document to use for identification purposes, you must show documents as proof of U.S. citizenship. Applying for a passport is no different. In fact, you are required to provide more documents than if you are applying for a driver’s license or state ID. The State Department, who issued a U.S. passport, has two sets of materials that are acceptable. The documents are categorized as primary and secondary.

Primary Documents for Proof of U.S. Citizenship

Primary documents use as proof of U.S. citizenship are first asked to provide. If the applicant is unable to submit a primary document, then a secondary one is acceptable. All acceptable documents must be original or a certified copy. Any that may require notarization must be done before submitting. Any noncertified or notarized papers will be returned and delay the application process.

Primary documents include:

  • Original birth certificate
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad Certificate or Certification of Birth
  • Naturalization Certificate
  • Expired Passport

Secondary Documents for Proof of U.S. Citizenship

Secondary documents are acceptable if you cannot provide a primary document. Only certified and notarized, if necessary, papers are acceptable. If you are unable to provide a birth certificate, submit a state-issued letter of record stating your name and date of birth. The letter must also include the time spent searching for your birth certificate.

Other papers that will provide information about your identity can be used as proof of U.S. citizenship. Secondary documents include:

  • Doctor’s records
  • Early school records
  • Census records
  • Hospital birth certificate
  • Baptismal certificate
  • Notarized birth affidavit


In the process of applying for a passport, the form you use (DS-11, DS-64, or DS-82) will have a list of documents you must provide with the form. Once you can do so, you will have your passport in time for your trip. However, if you don’t give the necessary papers and pay the fees, you will encounter delays in the process. Until you present the correct documents, you will not get a new passport.