What is the Certificate of Citizenship?

Gabriela Peratello

If you’re an American born abroad, you may need to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship, using USCIS Form N-600. A Certificate of Citizenship is only used in a relatively small number of situations — it’s not the same as a Certificate of Naturalization, for example. Not sure if a Certificate of Citizenship is what you need? You’re in the right place.

This guide walks through what a Certificate of Citizenship is, who is eligible, and how to apply. We’ll also touch on how you can pay for your certificate from abroad with the real exchange rate and lower fees, using Wise.

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What is the Certificate of Citizenship?

A Certificate of Citizenship is used as evidence that you — or your child — are US citizens, even though you were born overseas¹. This certificate proves your right to be a US national, and can be used on occasions when you need to prove your citizenship — for example, when you apply for a passport, state issued ID documents or social security benefits.

The Certificate of Citizenship is an optional form although having it can be helpful if you don’t have other means of proving your nationality.

Who’s eligible for a Citizenship Certificate?

You can get a Certificate of Citizenship if you were born outside of the US, but you’re a US citizen by derivation or by acquisition.

The most common reasons to get a Citizenship Certificate are:

  • You were born abroad to parents who are US citizens
  • You were born abroad, but have become a US national by operation of law before you turned 18

How to obtain the Citizenship Certificate?

You can get your Citizenship Certificate if you fulfil the eligibility criteria set out by USCIS. It’s important to note that these criteria have changed over the years, which may mean that the exact eligibility requirements you need to know about vary according to the date of birth of the applicant. Make sure you get all the most up to date information from the USCIS website before you apply.

You may be eligible for the Certificate of Citizenship because you have US citizenship by derivation or acquisition. Here’s a simple breakdown of the two terms — as with anything immigration-related, it’s a complex area, so you’ll want to get legal advice if you’re not sure about your own eligibility or status.

Citizenship by derivationCitizenship by acquisition
  • Children who are eligible for US citizenship because their parent or parents become US citizens prior to the child turning 18. The child must reside lawfully in the US to apply.
  • Children adopted by US parents may also become US citizens by derivation once a set of residency requirements are met.
Note: exact conditions applied may vary depending on the child’s date of birth.
  • Children who are eligible for US citizenship because their parent or parents are US citizens at the time of their birth.
  • Certain conditions — including the parents’ residence or physical presence in the US prior to the child’s birth — must usually be met in this case. These conditions may vary depending on the child’s date of birth.

How to apply for a Citizenship Certificate

Once you’ve checked you’ll be eligible to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship you’ll need to apply. Here’s how²:

1. Complete USCIS Form N-600, and submit by mail or online
2. Pay your N-600 filing fee to USCIS
3. Track your case by creating an online USCIS account
4. You may be asked to provide additional evidence or attend an interview, depending on the situation

It’s worth noting that if you’re outside of the US, applying for a fee waiver or applying on your own behalf as a veteran or member of the military, you can not file your paperwork online. Check the USCIS website to get the correct mailing address to send your documents in hard copy.

To make sure your application is processed promptly, only tick one box in Part 1, and sign the document correctly, based on whether you’re applying for yourself or a child.

What is Form N-600?

Form N-600 is the USCIS form you need to submit to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship.

Certificate of Citizenship fees

The standard filing fee for Form N-600 is 1,170 USD. If you’re applying as a veteran or member of the US Armed Forces you may be eligible for a reduction or waiver — use the USCIS online fee calculator³ to check the costs in your particular case.

Paying for your Citizenship Certificate

You can pay for your Certificate of Citizenship by:

  • Mail using a personal check, cashier’s check or money order
  • Visiting a USCIS Lockbox location and paying by credit card
💡 If you need to convert funds from a foreign currency to pay your USCIS filing fees, you could save if you use Wise.

Wise offers international payments and currency exchange which use the real mid-market exchange rate, and low transparent fees. You can also get an online Wise multi-currency account for free, to hold, manage and convert 50+ currencies in the Wise app or online. Get a linked debit card to make payments online and in person - and it’s free to spend any currency you hold, no matter where in the world you might be.

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Replacement of Certificate of Citizenship

You may apply for a replacement Citizenship Certificate if yours is lost, damaged or stolen, or if you need to change your personal details on the certificate. The required documents can vary according to the situation, so do make sure you read through the information carefully on the USCIS website before you apply.

For example, if your document is stolen or lost you may need a police report or a sworn statement. And if you’re changing your name on your document, you’ll need to show evidence of your legal name change to proceed.

Once you’ve pulled together all the information you need, you’ll have to take the same basic steps⁴:

1. Complete USCIS Form N-565, and submit by mail or online
2. Pay your N-565 filing fee to USCIS
3. Track your case by creating an online USCIS account
4. You may be asked to mail additional documents to USCIS depending on the situation

The standard Form N-565 filing fee is 555 USD. If you file your document online you can also pay online using a card. If you’re sending in your paperwork by mail you can choose to pay by check or money order — or complete an additional form (G-1450) to pay by credit card.

Contents of the certificate

When you get your Citizenship Certificate, you’ll see it shows the following details:

  • Full name of US citizen
  • Photograph of holder
  • Personal information about holder including marital status and place of residence
  • Certificate of Citizenship number
  • Date of becoming a citizen and date the certificate was issued
  • USCIS registration number
  • Other relevant description of holder
  • Holder’s signature

Which other documents can be accepted as citizenship proof?

As we mentioned earlier, the Citizenship Certificate isn’t the only way to prove your US nationality. Other options include⁵:

  • Valid US passport
  • Naturalization certificate
  • US birth certificate
  • Consular report of birth abroad, or certification of birth

If you need to prove your US citizenship as a US national born abroad, the Certificate of Citizenship might be just what you need. Use this guide to get started, and remember to use Wise to pay if you’re sending money from abroad to cover your filing fee.


  1. USCIS - N-600 FAQ
  2. USCIS - N-600
  3. USCIS - Fee calculator
  4. USCIS - N-565
  5. Travel.State - Citizenship evidence

Sources checked on 08.27.2021

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This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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