Applying for a U.S. passport is pretty simple, however, you do need to make sure that you have all of the necessary documents. When applying for your first U.S. passport, you will need an original or certified copy of your birth certificate.
Fortunately, the application process to get a birth certificate copy is also fairly straightforward. However, it can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months to get each document. So, if you’re planning to travel internationally and need a copy of your birth certificate to get your passport, make sure that you give yourself plenty of time for your order to be processed and mailed to you.
Who can get a passport?
Any U.S. citizen or national can apply for a U.S. passport. However, when applying for your first U.S. passport, you are required to provide a certified copy of your birth certificate. This is because the U.S. government considers your birth certificate to be proof of your identity and citizenship. The following applicants will also need a birth certificate to apply:
- Minors under the age of 16
- Applicants replacing a stolen, lost, or damaged passport
- Applicants whose previous passport was issued before the age of 16
- Applicants whose most recent passport was issued over 15 years ago
- Applicants who have officially changed their name
What type of birth certificate is needed for a passport?
Applicants must provide provide a certified copy of their birth certificate. However, there are different types of birth certificate copies, so you’ll need to make sure you have the right kind. Some copies are for informational or keepsake purposes only. These copies do not include as much information and are not valid for official use. So, you cannot use them as proof of identity or citizenship. A certified, official birth certificate copy that is acceptable to use when applying for a passport must include the:
- Applicant’s full, legal name
- Applicant’s parents’ full names
- Date and place of the applicant’s birth
- Registrar’s signature
- Date the birth certificate was issued (must be within one year of applicant’s birth)
- Multicolored, embossed, raised or impressed seal from the issuing authority
More information on: Long form vs short form birth certificates
Can I get a passport without a birth certificate?
If you cannot provide a birth certificate to prove your citizenship, there are some alternatives.
If your parents were U.S. citizens, but you were born outside the country, you can also use a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA). To get one, you will need to submit an N-600 form, your foreign birth certificate, a certified translation, and your parent’s birth certificates to the U.S. embassy in your birth country. When the original document is ready, you can collect it from the U.S. embassy.
Naturalized U.S. citizens must provide an official Naturalization Certificate when applying for a passport. If your parents became U.S. citizens after you were born, but before you turned 18, you can apply for and present an official Certificate of Citizenship. These documents must be originals, not copies, and they will be returned to you after your passport application has been processed.
How to apply for a U.S. passport
First, you will need to fill out Form DS-11 Application for U.S. Passport. The application will ask for, among other information, your Social Security number. If you do not have an SSN, you must provide either an affidavit or a signed and dated statement that includes the exact following 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.”
In addition, you must provide an original or certified copy of one of the following as proof of citizenship:
- U.S. birth certificate that meets the requirements listed previously
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad
- Certificate of Naturalization
- Certificate of Citizenship
You will also need to provide a photocopy, front and back, of an official ID, such as a driver’s license, a government employee ID, or a U.S. military or military dependent ID. Finally, you must provide a passport photo that meets the standard requirements and payment for the application fees. If you are applying for a U.S. passport for the first time, you must apply in person and bring all necessary documents with you.