When you apply for a passport, you need to be able to convince the government of two things: you are who you say you are, and you are a US citizen. Usually, this is easily accomplished by submitting proof of identity and proof of citizenship.

The following documents can be used to prove your identity:

  • An old US passport in good condition.
  • Naturalization certificate.
  • Valid driver’s license issued at least 6 months ago.
  • Government-issued ID
  • Military ID

These documents can be used to prove that you are a US citizen:

  • An old US passport in good condition.
  • A certified birth certificate with a raised or embossed seal
  • A Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth (if you were born overseas to US citizen parents)
  • A naturalization certificate or a certificate of citizenship.

Secondary ID Documents for a Passport

What if you don’t have any of the above documents? The best thing to do is to obtain them before applying, but what if you can’t? In that case, you may have to use secondary documents to prove your identity and/or citizenship. Even if you have the right primary documents, if the Department of State has doubts about your application, they may request that you submit secondary documents to provide more proof. For example, people delivered by midwives along the border with Mexico have been asked to submit secondary documentation along with their birth certificates due to concerns about midwives falsifying birth certificates.

Secondary documents that prove US citizenship can include:

  • Baptismal certificate
  • Hospital birth certificate
  • Census record
  • Early school record
  • Family bible record
  • Doctor’s record of post-natal care

You may also need a Birth Affidavit form signed by someone who witnessed your birth (preferably an older blood relative). Secondary documents that prove identity can include a combination of signature documents (such as a credit card, social security card and library card) and a signed, notarized affidavit from someone who is willing to vouch for your identity.

When using secondary documents to prove identity or citizenship, your passport application form will be evaluated individually. The Department of State has the discretion to decide whether they will issue you a passport or ask for additional information.

When you submit your passport application, it’s important to allow enough time for the Department of State to process it. Usually, it takes the government about 6 weeks to process a passport application form with regular processing, and 3 weeks if you request expedited processing.

Of course, if they have questions about your application or want additional documentation, it is going to take longer. If you have a trip planned, a good idea is to apply through a private passport expediting company. These companies deliver your passport application form by hand for much faster processing. They offer checklists and advice to help you avoid mistakes that can hold up your application, and if additional documentation is required for you to get a passport, you’ll find out quickly instead of getting stuck trying to resolve the issue at the last minute.

Let us help you with your passport application form today!