How to Prove Citizenship

Three Parts:Understanding CitizenshipGathering Proof of CitizenshipGetting Your Citizenship Recognized

Citizenship should not be difficult to prove. If you were born in a country, then you should have identification documents that can only be given to a citizen, e.g., a passport. Alternately, if you are a naturalized citizen, then you should have papers showing your naturalization. If you need new copies of these documents, then you should request them promptly from the appropriate authorities.

Part 1
Understanding Citizenship

  1. Image titled Prove Citizenship Step 1
    Identify your country’s citizenship requirements. There is no one standard way to prove citizenship across the globe because there is no one way that all countries define a citizen. In the United States, for example, all people born in the country are citizens upon birth (unless they were born to a foreign diplomat). This is called “birthright citizenship.”
    • Other people may qualify for U.S. citizenship even if they were not born in the country. For example, if you were born outside the U.S. but to citizens of the United States, then you probably are a U.S. citizen.[1]
    • By contrast, other countries will have different requirements for citizenship. Australia, for example, does not recognize “birthright citizenship.” Instead, a person born in Australia will be an Australian citizen if born to at least one parent who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident.[2]
  2. Image titled Prove Citizenship Step 2
    Find your country’s citizenship requirements. You should be able to find them on the Internet. Type “citizenship” and then your country. Search through the results.
    • If you can’t find anything on the web, or become confused, then you can stop by your local town office and ask what the requirements for citizenship are. They will either have the answer or can point you in the right direction.
  3. Image titled Prove Citizenship Step 3
    Learn about naturalization. People who are not naturalized upon birth may apply to become naturalized citizens. The vast majority of countries in the world allow aliens to become citizens through a naturalization process. Each country’s requirements and processes will differ somewhat.
    • For example, in Australia, you can become a citizen if you meet the following requirements:[3]
      • Are over 16 years old and a permanent resident of the country
      • Have lived in Australia lawfully for four total years with no long absences
      • Know basic English and the requirements and privileges of citizenship
      • Are likely to reside in Australia or otherwise maintain close connections
      • Have good character
  4. Image titled Prove Citizenship Step 4
    Identify penalties for using false documents. If you are not a citizen of the country where you reside, then you cannot falsely claim to be one. In the United States, if you falsely claim to be a citizen in order to obtain a benefit, then you can be deported. Even more, you can be permanently barred from ever returning.[4]
    • A common area where people wrongly claim citizenship is when filling out an I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form. If you are working in the United States, then you should confirm that you are a citizen before filling out this form.
  5. Image titled Prove Citizenship Step 5
    Meet with a lawyer. If you are trying to establish citizenship, then you will need to meet with a lawyer to discuss how to go about gaining citizenship. You also might want to meet with a lawyer if you are unsure of whether or not you already are a citizen. You can find an immigration attorney by using the relevant bar association referral program for your state or country.
    • At your consultation, bring whatever proof of citizenship that you have. Also be prepared to speak honestly about your history.

Part 2
Gathering Proof of Citizenship

  1. Image titled Prove Citizenship Step 6
    Get a copy of your birth certificate. In the United States, a copy of your birth certificate will prove that you are a citizen. If you were born in the U.S., then by virtue of birthright citizenship you are a U.S. citizen.[5]
    • To get a copy of your birth certificate, you can contact the Vital Records department in the state where you were born.[6]
    • To find your state’s office, you should visit this webpage from the Centers for Disease Control at Click on the state or territory where you were born. You will be provided the name of the department, contact information, and the cost for a copy of your birth certificate.
    • If you were born overseas, then you should contact the Department of State to request a copy of your birth certificate.[7]
  2. Image titled Prove Citizenship Step 7
    Find your passport. Your passport also serves as proof of your citizenship. If you lost your passport, then contact the appropriate agency to request a replacement.
    • In the U.S., you must first report your passport as stolen or missing by visiting Then you can get a replacement passport by filling out a Form DS-11 and submitting it in person to an authorized Passport Application Acceptance Facility.[8]
    • If you are traveling within the next two weeks, then you should make an appointment with a Passport Agency or Center. You will complete the Form DS-11 during your appointment.
  3. Image titled Prove Citizenship Step 8
    Request copies of your naturalization records. You might have lost your naturalization records. If so, then you need to have them replaced. You can’t prove that you are a naturalized citizen without your Certificate of Naturalization.
    • In the U.S., you can request a replacement of your Certificate by filling out an Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document, Form N-565, which is available from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.
    • There is a $345 filing fee for a replacement.[9]

Part 3
Getting Your Citizenship Recognized

  1. Image titled Prove Citizenship Step 9
    Apply for a passport. Before a country will issue a passport, it will need to confirm that you are a citizen. The passport will then serve as proof that you are a citizen. Having a valid passport is often the easiest way to prove citizenship.
    • To find your country’s requirements, you need to contact the government office that issues passports. To find this office, you can stop into your local post office, which often contracts with the government to issue passports. The post office should have a list of requirements.
    • You will also need to gather appropriate proof of your identity and your citizenship. Acceptable documents vary by country. Typically, however, government-issued identification cards can establish your identity and birth certificates or naturalization certificates can establish your citizenship.
    • For more information, see Apply for a Passport.
  2. Image titled Prove Citizenship Step 10
    Apply for a Certificate of Citizenship. A Certificate of Citizenship is available in the United States for people born outside the country to parents who are U.S. citizens.[10] This certificate then be used to prove your citizenship whenever such proof is necessary.
    • You can apply for a Certificate of Citizenship if you are living in the country. If not, you should seek a passport instead.[11]
    • To apply, you can fill out form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship. You will then need to mail it to the address provided, along with copies of your birth certificate, a birth certificate for your U.S. Citizen Parent, parental marriage and possibly divorce certificates, and proof of physical presence or residence. You may be scheduled for an interview.[12]
    • If you have questions, you can call the USCIS customer service center at 1-800-375-5283.[13] You should also download the instructions to form N-600.
  3. Image titled Prove Citizenship Step 11
    Become a naturalized citizen. If you are not a citizen but want to become one, then you need to apply for naturalization. This will require filling out a form and filing it with the appropriate government agency. As naturalizations can be complicated, you might want to seek an attorney’s assistance.
    • Each nation’s specific requirements will be different. Generally, you will need to complete an application form, take a test, and possibly meet with a government official for an interview.
    • For information on how to become a naturalized citizen in the United States, see Apply for Citizenship (USA).


  • If you cannot afford professional legal help, then you should look for legal aid organizations that assist immigrants. Legal aid organizations provide free or reduced-fee legal services to people in financial need. You can find a legal aid organization near you by visiting the Legal Services Corporation’s website at

Article Info

Categories: Official Travel Documentation