Certificate of Naturalization, Explained
Learn more about the official certificate you receive when you obtain U.S. citizenship through naturalization
What is the Certificate of Naturalization?
A Certificate of Naturalization is a document issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to foreign nationals who have successfully completed the process of becoming naturalized U.S. citizens. This certificate serves as evidence of the individual’s U.S. citizenship and contains important information such as the person’s full legal name, country of birth, date of birth, and the date they were granted U.S. citizenship.
To obtain a U.S. Certificate of Naturalization, a person must complete the citizenship process and satisfy certain eligibility requirements, including having lived in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident for a certain period of time, demonstrating good moral character, and passing an English and civics test. Once these requirements are met and the naturalization process is complete, USCIS will issue a Certificate of Naturalization to the individual, which they can use as proof of their U.S. citizenship.
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What is the Difference Between the Certificate of Naturalization and the Certificate of Citizenship?
While both documents serve as proof of U.S. citizenship, the Certificate of Naturalization is issued to those who have become U.S. citizens through the naturalization process, while the Certificate of Citizenship is issued to those who acquired U.S. citizenship at birth or through other means.
The Certificate of Naturalization is issued to foreign nationals who have gone through the process of naturalization and have met the requirements for becoming a U.S. citizen. The Certificate of Naturalization is proof that the individual has voluntarily become a U.S. citizen through the naturalization process.
The Certificate of Citizenship, on the other hand, is issued to individuals who were born outside the U.S. and acquired U.S. citizenship at birth through their parents or through other means, such as adoption. For example, a child born to U.S. citizens overseas would be eligible for a Certificate of Citizenship. This document serves as proof of the individual’s U.S. citizenship from birth.
How to Apply for a Replacement Certificate of Naturalization
If you’ve lost or damaged your original Certificate of Naturalization, you’ll need to apply for a replacement with USCIS. Here are the steps to follow:
- Complete Form N-565 (Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document): Fill out the form completely and accurately, providing your personal information, the reason for the replacement, and any supporting documentation required. USCIS allows Form N-565 to be filed online or by mail.
- Gather supporting documents: You will need to provide evidence of your identity, such as a copy of your driver’s license or passport, as well as evidence of your U.S. citizenship, such as a copy of your lost or damaged Certificate of Naturalization or other acceptable documentation.
- Pay the filing fee: The current government filing fee for Form N-565 is $555, and it is paid directly to USCIS at the time of filing.
- Submit the form and supporting documents: If filing by mail, mail the completed Form N-565, supporting documents, and filing fee to the USCIS Lockbox facility specified on the form. USCIS recommends using a trackable delivery method and retaining a copy of your application and supporting documents for your records. You can also file Form N-565 and all supporting documents online.
It may take several months to receive a replacement Certificate of Naturalization, so it’s important to apply as soon as possible if your original certificate is lost, stolen, or damaged.
Certificate of Naturalization FAQs
A Certificate of Naturalization serves as proof of one’s citizenship and may be required for various purposes, including:
- Obtaining a U.S. passport: A Certificate of Naturalization may be required when applying for a U.S. passport.
- Registering to vote: The certificate can be used to prove U.S. citizenship when registering to vote in U.S. federal, state, and local elections.
- Applying for government benefits: A Certificate of Naturalization may be required when applying for certain government benefits, such as Social Security or Medicare.
- Employment verification: Employers may use the certificate to verify a person’s eligibility to work in the U.S. or ability to hold certain sensitive government positions.
- Educational and financial benefits: A Certificate of Naturalization may be used to obtain certain benefits, such as applying for student loans.
No — unlike permanent resident cards (green cards), Certificates of Naturalization do not expire. Once an individual has been granted U.S. citizenship through the naturalization process, their citizenship is permanent. The Certificate of Naturalization does not need to be renewed or replaced unless lost or damaged.
No, a Certificate of Naturalization cannot be used as a U.S. passport for international air travel. While a Certificate of Naturalization serves as proof of U.S. citizenship, it is not a travel document and cannot be used in place of a passport. To travel internationally, a U.S. citizen must have a valid U.S. passport.
Naturalized U.S. citizens can apply for a passport at a U.S. Department of State Passport Agency or at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. The passport application process requires proof of U.S. citizenship, such as the Certificate of Naturalization, as well as other identification documents and a passport photo. You can learn more about how to apply for a U.S. passport in Boundless’ guide.