A Certificate of Citizenship may be acquired through a variety of paths. Once you have become a U.S. citizen, the document is proof of your status. It can serve as vital evidence for certain benefits only available to American citizens. If you’ve lost your certificate or life circumstances have resulted in a change to your biographic data, there is a Certificate of Citizenship replacement process.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues a Certificate of Citizenship to a person born outside the United States who derived or acquired U.S. citizenship through a U.S. citizen parent. If you have never been issued this document, you’ll need to request to have your citizenship recognized by filing Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship. The replacement process is only for individuals who have previously been issued a certificate. If your certificate has been lost, stolen or otherwise destroyed, you may need to replace it. Additionally, if you’ve had a legal change in your name, birth date or gender, you may need to start the Certificate of Citizenship replacement process.
Although replacing a Certificate of Citizenship is a fairly straight forward process, minor mistakes of oversights can easily derail an application.
Application to Replace Citizenship Certificate
To request a replacement of a Certificate of Citizenship, file Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The N-565 is strictly for re-issuing citizenship documentation when citizenship has already been granted. Do not file Form N-565 for the following reasons:
- Permanent residents applying for U.S. citizenship should not file Form N-565. Instead, use Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
- U.S. citizens requiring an original Certificate of Citizenship should not file Form N-565. Instead, use Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship.
Reasons for Certificate of Citizenship Replacement Process
There are several valid reasons to request a replacement Certificate of Citizenship:
Lost, Stolen, or Destroyed Document
It is a fairly simple process for those that need to replace a certificate that was lost, stolen or destroyed. However, you will need to provide some corroborating evidence. When filing Form N-565 on the basis of a lost certificate, you must submit evidence of the loss. USCIS wants to know what happened and get some corroborating evidence. Generally, the applicant must submit a police report or a sworn statement.
The Certificate of Citizenship replacement process generally requests that you provide details such as certificate number, date of issuance and place of issuance. If you do not know this information because the document is no longer in your possession, CitizenPath’s software will guide you through these questions.
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Change of Document Not Due to a USCIS Error
If there is an error or change on your Certificate of Citizenship, you can request to have it fixed. If the U.S. government is at fault for the error, they will generally replace it at no cost. (You’ll need to prove it was their fault.) On other hand, replacing a certificate due to the applicant’s error or change will carry a USCIS filing fee for Form N-565.
Any time you change information on the document, you’ll need to provide evidence.
A name change request requires:
- Marriage or divorce certificate; or
- Certified copy of a court order.
A gender change requires:
- Certified copy of a court order; or
- Certified copy of an amended birth certificate; or
- Medical certification by a licensed physician; or
- Other official documentation recognizing the new gender by a U.S. state, local jurisdiction, or foreign state (i.e. passport or driver’s license).
A date of birth change requires:
- Certified copy of a court order;
- Certified copy of an amended birth certificate; or
- Similar state vital record.
USCIS Typographical Error
If the error on a certificate was due to a typographical or clerical error on the part of the government, you’ll need to submit the original certificate and provide proof of the correct information. For example, N-565 applications related to an incorrect birth date should include a photocopy of the birth certificate as evidence of the correct birth date. There is no fee required if you select this reason. You may request a replacement certificate, without fee, in cases where:
- USCIS issued a certificate that does not conform to the supportable facts shown on the applicant’s citizenship or Citizenship application; or
- USCIS committed a clerical error in preparing the certificate.
Certificate Replacement Time
The processing time for the Certificate of Citizenship replacement process is usually less than a year. In certain cases, USCIS may be able to issue a replacement certificate more quickly. But according to USCIS, the N-565 processing times are generally lengthy.
The best thing you can do to minimize the replacement time is to prepare an accurate and complete N-565 application package. In addition to preparing the form correctly, provide all evidence and supporting documentation as recommended.
That’s how CitizenPath can help. In addition to your correctly prepared form, CitizenPath provides you with a set of personalized filing instructions. Our filing instructions are customized to your answers in the application so you know what to do for your specific situation. The filing instructions provide detailed directions on supporting documents, how to organize your application, and where to mail it.
CitizenPath provides simple, affordable, step-by-step guidance through USCIS immigration applications. Individuals, attorneys and non-profits use the service on desktop or mobile device to prepare immigration forms accurately, avoiding costly delays. CitizenPath allows users to try the service for free and provides a 100% money-back guarantee that USCIS will approve the application or petition. We provide support for the Certificate of Citizenship Replacement Process (N-565), the Application for Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-600), and several other immigration services.