Proof of citizenship is critical to immigrants who’ve chosen the United States as their adoptive country and who want to assure their standing under the U.S. Constitution as the rights, privileges and responsibilities laid out in the nation’s founding documents apply strictly to those who hold citizenship status. But proof of citizenship is also a practical matter as citizenship documentation also supports hiring criteria for U.S. employers.
While citizens born within U.S. borders normally have state-issued birth certificates, immigrant citizens receive federally-issued documents to prove their U.S. citizenship. Naturalized citizens and derivative citizens– generally those born outside the United States but who have a U.S. citizen parent or grandparent– are issued a Naturalization Certificate or Certificate of Citizenship, both of which show proof of citizenship.
Proof of citizenship documents for both natural-born and immigrant citizens include:
- Birth Certificate: A document that shows natural-born U.S. citizenship
- U.S. Passport: A document that shows U.S. citizenship and also serves as a travel document
- Certificate of Citizenship: A document issued to citizens born outside the United States
- Naturalization Certificate: A document issued to immigrants aged 18 and older who’ve gained citizenship through the naturalization process
The two proof of citizenship documents available to immigrants are a U.S. passport and a Naturalization Certificate. A passport, which is issued by the U.S. Department of State, not only serves as proof of citizenship, but it also serves as a travel document for those who travel outside the United States. Naturalized citizens who need to replace their Naturalization Certificate can do so by filing Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization / Citizenship Document. While both a passport and a Naturalization Certificate are valid as proof of citizenship, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suggests a U.S. passport as the most practical document. Besides serving as both proof of citizenship identification as well as a travel document, the passport application is arguably the more convenient option as the process could expedite faster than the certificate option, according to USCIS.