Certificate of Naturalization definition

A Certificate of Naturalization is an official document proving that its holder has become a U.S. citizen through the process of naturalization. Therefore, the Certificate of Naturalization is issued to former foreign nationals.

What Does Naturalization Mean?

People who are born abroad and subsequently travel to the United States and become U.S. citizens usually go through a process called naturalization. The process of naturalization is voluntary and is the most common way for foreign-born individuals to gain citizenship.

How to Get a Certificate of Naturalization

In order to obtain a Certificate of Naturalization, individuals must submit an application with USCIS (the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.) Permanent residents who meet the requirements for naturalization can fill out form N-400.

After the form is completed in all of its parts and the petitioner has taken the Oath of Allegiance, an USCIS officer approves the application. The applicant therefore becomes officially a U.S. citizen.

Please note that minor mistakes in the form N-400 can lead to the application being rejected or delayed.

Contents of a U.S. Certificate of Naturalization

The certificate confirms its holder’s U.S. citizenship and includes information regarding their identity. More specifically, the Certificate of Naturalization features:

  • USCIS registration number (A-number)
  • Full name
  • Marital status
  • Place of residence
  • Country of former nationality
  • Photograph
  • The petitioner’s signature
  • Personal details: gender, date of birth, height
  • Certificate number
  • Statement by the USCIS Director confirming that the petitioner met all the eligibility requirements
  • Date of issuance
  • DHS seal and Director’s signature as the authority under which the certificate is issued

Changing your name after obtaining the Certificate of Naturalization

Should a U.S. naturalized citizen change their name and have this recognized according to the U.S. naming laws after having received their Certificate of Naturalization, this information must be updated on the certificate.

The way to do so is by applying for a Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document, which can be done by submitting Form N-565 together with the relevant application fee and proof of legal change of name.

Why Do You Need a Certificate of Naturalization?

The Certificate of Naturalization is essentially proof of citizenship in the U.S. and can be used in several occasions where one is needed, for example, to obtain a U.S birth certificate.

One of the most important uses of the Certificate of Naturalization is to obtain a U.S. passport. In order to get a passport, you will need to submit the original copy and a photocopy of your certificate together with the application form (DS-11) and other relevant supporting documents.