All intercountry adoptees need to obtain proof of US citizenship as part of the essential documents required for any immigrant living in the United States. Proof of citizenship is important for the purpose of obtaining state and federal identification, when submitting government documents, applying for government assistance,  employment eligibility verification, foreign and domestic travel, banking, as well as for personal security. Citizenship documents should be kept in a secure location such as a safe deposit box, with multiple notarized copies maintained elsewhere in the event a document is lost or accidentally destroyed.

The following information does not constitute legal advice and should not be substituted for advice from a qualified attorney who specializes in immigration law.

You should obtain proof of citizenship for yourself as an adult adoptee and for your child as an adoptive parent. Here are the documents you need and how to obtain them:

  • For adult foreign-born individuals who become US citizens through naturalization, the Certificate of Naturalization issued by INS or USCIS is documentation of citizenship.
  • A Certificate of Citizenship (COC) can be obtained for minor children and adults through the USCIS. Certificates of Citizenship do not expire.
  • A US Passport and a US Passport Card can be obtained through the US Department of State. Passports and passport cards are valid for a period of 5 years for minor children and 10 years for adults. An expired passport or passport card cannot be used and will not be accepted as proof of citizenship in many instances. Obtaining a US passport or passport card is faster than the time needed to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship. It is best to apply for both the US passport and/or card AND the Certificate of Citizenship at the same time and to keep the US passport valid at all times. Passport cards are the size of a typical driver’s license and may be more convenient to carry than a US passport for domestic air travel or other uses within the US. Passport cards are valid for domestic travel under the REAL ID requirements and for international travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda only.
  • Note: US issued state birth certificates CANNOT be used as proof of US citizenship for individuals born outside the US and naturalized regardless of their status as an adoptee.
  • Note: US Social Security Cards are NOT proof of citizenship.

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