Certificate of Citizenship definition

A Certificate of Citizenship is a crucial vital record issued to US citizens born abroad or to derivative citizens. This allows Americans born overseas or children of naturalized citizen parents to prove their US citizenship and obtain important documents such as a US passport.

It is possible to use a Certificate of Citizenship to prove your identity instead of a US birth certificate if you weren’t born in the United States. Find out in the sections below how this essential proof of citizenship can be obtained and used.

Who Can Get a Certificate of Citizenship?

Individuals with rights to citizenship who were born overseas or have naturalized parents can obtain a Certificate of Citizenship from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This can be claimed at any time from birth up until the age of 18.

To claim a certificate of citizenship, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be a biological child of a US citizen parent.
  • If you are already a US resident, you must have been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence.
  • Also, if you are already a resident, you must have been living in the US in the legal and physical custody of your citizen parent.

How to Get a Certificate of Citizenship

To get a certificate of citizenship, applicants need to fill in and file Form N-600 with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

In order to prove you have the rights to citizenship, you will need to also provide the correct evidence for your case. This can include:

  • Your foreign birth certificate
  • The birth certificate of your US citizen parent
  • Your parent’s proof of US citizenship
  • Marriage or divorce certificates of your parents
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA)
  • Proof of status as a US national

In addition to the above, you’ll also need to provide two identical passport photographs of yourself within 30 days of filing your application. These must be sized 2 by 2 inches and must be in color with your full face visible.

What Information is Listed on a Certificate of Citizenship?

A Certificate of Citizenship is an important form of ID and therefore contains a number of important details about its holder. It can be used to prove your name and age in addition to your US citizenship.

The certificate contains the following information on the sheet:

  • Applicant signature
  • Certificate number
  • Country of birth
  • Date of birth
  • Date of citizenship
  • Date of issue
  • Full name of the citizen
  • Height
  • Marital status
  • Photograph of the citizen
  • Place of residence
  • Sex

Certificate of Citizenship Vs. Certificate of Naturalization

Certificates of Citizenship have some similarities with Certificates of Naturalization, as both of these vital records confer citizenship on the holder. However, there are many significant differences.

A Certificate of Naturalization, for instance, is only granted to immigrants who become full US citizens via the naturalization legal process. Certificates of Citizenship on the other hand are obtained by children of parents who are or become U.S. citizens.

For example, if you are the child of a foreign resident in the US who gains naturalized status, you will be granted citizenship at the same time as them. You will then be able to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship once they obtain their citizenship rights.