How to Obtain Citizenship ID Cards

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The United States doesn’t provide its citizens with a document officially called a citizenship identification card. However, U.S. citizens can use several other documents to provide proof of their citizenship, including a birth certificate, U.S. passport card and/or book, Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of Citizenship. The closest thing to an actual citizenship ID card is the U.S. passport card. Unlike the other citizenship documents, the U.S. passport card is an actual wallet-sized card.

U.S. Passport Card

The passport card is one way to provide proof of U.S. citizenship and identity. It can be used as proof of identity when traveling by air domestically. It also allows the cardholder to enter the U.S. by land crossing and sea ports-of-entry from a restricted number of countries, including Canada, Bermuda, Mexico and the Caribbean. Unlike a U.S. passport book, the U.S. passport card cannot be used as proof of U.S citizenship and identity for international air travel.

On the left of the U.S. passport card, the cardholder’s photograph appears. To the right is the cardholder’s nationality, surname and given names, date of birth and place of birth. Also on the passport card are the passport card number, the date of issuance and the expiration date.

Applying for a U.S. Passport Card

U.S. citizens are not automatically granted a U.S. passport card; instead, they must apply for one through the U.S. Department of State. First-time applicants need to apply in person at a passport acceptance facility using form DS-11, which can be downloaded online at the US. Department of State’s website. Many applicants apply for the card at the same time they apply for a regular passport book.

At the acceptance facility, the applicant must bring a completed form DS-11, an original or certified copy of proof of U.S. citizenship, a photocopy of the U.S. citizenship proof, proof of identity, a photocopy of the identity proof, a photo that meets the photo requirements, and pay the application fee. Certain applicants, such as those who are under 16 years of age and whose previous passport card was lost or stolen, may have additional requirements that they need to fulfill. A complete listing and explanation of the required documents can be found on the U.S. Department of State’s website.

The U.S. Department of State’s website also has a listing of passport acceptance facilities. People can search for their nearest passport acceptance facilities and see the facilities’ addresses, telephone numbers and hours of operation. Some facilities require an appointment.

Renewing a U.S. Passport Card

Cardholders who need to renew their cards can renew by mail using form DS-82. To renew by mail, the cardholder must be able to submit their previous undamaged passport card. In addition to form DS-82 and the previous U.S. passport card, those wishing to renew by mail must provide a photograph that meets the photograph requirements, pay the renewal fee and, if applicable, provide name change documentation. The completed packet must then be mailed to the National Passport Processing Center.

Read More: What Is Needed to Renew a Passport?

Other Proofs of Citizenship

Unlike the passport card, the passport book can be used for international air travel. In addition to the cardholder’s photo and identification details, the book contains blank pages for entry and visa stamps and has a blue cover. Like the passport card, people can apply for a passport book in person at a passport acceptance facility and/or renew by mail, depending on their situation. You can choose to receive both a U.S. passport card and book.

For a copy of the birth certificate, citizens can contact the Bureau of Vital Statistics of the state in which they were born. The Certificate of Naturalization is given at the oath ceremony when foreign nationals are sworn in as U.S. citizens. The Certificate of Citizenship is given to children of U.S. citizens who were born outside of the U.S. after they have submitted, depending on the situation, an Application for Certificate of Citizenship (form N-600) or Consular Report of Birth Abroad (form FS-240) to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Individuals who have lost their Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of Citizenship can apply for a replacement using form N-565 from USCIS.

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About the Author

Karen graduated from Southwestern Law School in 2003 with a Juris Doctor degree. She has worked for several law firms, providing legal services in various fields including immigration, housing, bankruptcy and family law.

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