Birth Certificate Requirements for US Passports

Getting a U.S. passport is not as complicated as some might think. However, it is important that applicants have the necessary requirements. One of the most important requirements to apply for a United States passport for the first time is a birth certificate.

Obtaining a certified copy of a birth certificate is a straightforward process, managed exclusively by the United States Department of State. You should apply for your passport whenever you decide to travel abroad, but the good news is you can quickly order a copy and receive it by mail in a few weeks.

Who can get a passport?

If you are applying for a U.S. passport for the first time, the first thing you will need is a certified copy of the birth certificate. Citizens in the following cases also need their birth certificate to get an american passport:

  • Minors under age 16
  • Applicants whose previous passport was issued before the age 16
  • Applicants who officially changed their name (by marriage or other reasons)
  • Applicants whose passport was issued more than 15 years ago
  • Applicants who are applying to replace a stolen, lost or damaged passport

The birth certificate is necessary as it is a document considered proof of citizenship by the U.S. government.

What type of birth certificate is needed for a passport?

On April 1st, 2011, the US Department of State modified the requirements for birth certificates used as proof of citizenship used to get a passport. A birth certificate now must include the full name of parent(s).

Other requirements for the birth certificate to apply for a passport include:

  • The full name of the passport applicant
  • Date and place of birth
  • The registrar’s signature
  • The date the birth certificate was issued
  • A multicolored, embossed, raised or impressed seal from the issuing authority
  • The issuance date of the birth certificate must be within one year of the birth

Read more: Long form vs short form birth certificates

If you were born outside the United States, to U.S. parents, you can request an original Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) at the U.S. embassy in the country where you were born. You can submit a N-600 form, with a foreign birth certificate, a certified translation, and your parent’s birth certificates. An original document is prepared and sent to the U.S. embassy for you to collect.

If you are a naturalized U.S. citizen, to get a passport you will need to submit an official Naturalization Certificate. If your parents became U.S. citizens after your birth, but before you turned 18, you can request an official Certificate of Citizenship. You need to present all original copies which will be returned to you after the passport has been processed.

birth certificate to get passport

How to get a passport without a birth certificate?

To successfully obtain a U.S. passport, the applicant needs to follow a few basic steps. One of the most important being, having a certified copy of the birth certificate. However, there are alternatives for citizens who cannot provide a birth certificate as proof of citizenship.

All applicants need to complete a Form DS-11 Application for U.S. Passport for a birth certificate. On your application, you need to provide a Social Security number. If you do not have one, you need to submit a birth affidavit or a statement, signed, and dated that includes this phrase: “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the following is true and correct: I have never been issued a Social Security Number by the Social Security Administration.”

To get the passport, all applicants need to submit an original or certified copy of one of the following to prove your citizenship.

  • U.S. birth certificate that meets the requirements established above
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Certificate of Citizenship

You must present a current ID it can be a driver’s license, government employee ID, U.S. military or military dependent ID or other. You must also present a photocopy, front and back, of each ID that you present when you apply. You will need to provide a photo and cover the respective fees. Applying for a U.S. passport in the United States must be done in person, and will all the required documents.

Do they keep your birth certificate when you apply for a passport?

Birth certificates are always returned to the applicant after their passport application has been processed. This is regardless of whether the passport was issued or denied. The document is usually sent separately from the passport, which means it might arrive on a different date. Other supporting documents can also arrive on distinct dates.

However, the passport office will keep your birth certificate until your application has been fully processed. This is because primary citizenship evidence such as a birth certificate or secondary citizenship evidence is necessary to complete this process.

If your documents do not arrive after 2-3 weeks of your passport being sent, then you should contact the National Passport Information Center by calling 1-877-487-2778. Automated Passport Information is also available every hour and day of the week.

Standard processing times for passports take between 10-12 weeks. There can also be further delays if you submit your application with missing documents, inconsistent information or incorrect details.

However, supporting documents are returned through regular mail, which means there is no tracking number available. Lines can also be busy, so it’s recommended to try at several different times to reach someone.