Proving US Citizenship Without a Birth Certificate

Prove your US citizenship without birth certificate

Every person who is born on US soil is automatically granted US citizenship. When you apply for a passport, your birth certificate showing your birth in the US is used to prove your United States citizenship. But what if you don’t have a birth certificate? This is the problem 90-year-old war veteran Ray Morgan just encountered. Mr. Morgan and his wife want to take a vacation to Canada to celebrate his milestone birthday, but as of this writing,
he hasn’t been able to get a passport because he was born at home in 1926 and was never issued a birth certificate.
If you’ve had trouble getting a passport because you don’t have your birth certificate, this article is for you!

How to Get a Certified Copy of Your Birth Certificate for Your Passport Application

Even if you don’t have a copy of your birth certificate, the likelihood is that your birth certificate is on file with the local government in the state or city where you were born. You can have a copy printed by visiting the Health Department or Bureau of Vital Statistics. You’ll need to show photo ID to get your birth certificate, and you will need to pay a small fee, usually between $10 to $20.

The easiest way to get an official copy of your birth certificate is to order it online through VitalChek. VitalChek works directly with local governments to streamline the process of getting the certified birth certificate you’ll need to apply for a new US passport.

How to Get a US Passport if You Were Never Issued a Birth Certificate

If you were born outside of a hospital or birthing center, or if you parents never filed for your birth certificate, it’s possible that you might not have a birth certificate at all. If the Bureau of Vital Statistics in the state where you were born has searched their files and been unable to find your birth certificate, they can issue you a “Letter of No Record” confirming that you were never issued a birth certificate. This “Letter of No Record” can then be submitted with your passport application. You’ll also need to submit as many documents as possible that show you were in the United States as an infant and young child, such as your baptismal certificate, medical records from your pediatrician or hospital, and school records from pre-school or kindergarten.

Another option is to get a Birth Affidavit from someone who attended your birth or knew you as a newborn. Ideally, this form should be completed by an older blood relative or by the doctor, nurse, or lay midwife who delivered you. You’ll still need to submit the “Letter of No Record” along with the Birth Affidavit. Of course, if you are 90+ years old, like Mr. Morgan, it might be a challenge to find the doctor or midwife who was there when you were born!

Want to make sure your own children never run into these problems? Check out the first part of our guide to passports for babies for information on how to get a birth certificate for your newborn baby.


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