How to Become a U.S. Citizen

Learn how to become a citizen of the United States

Become a U.S. Citizen through Naturalization

Citizenship identifies an individual's national origin. It defines his/her rights and responsibilities to that country (nationality). Most people have only one country of citizenship, but some can have dual nationality. U.S. citizens can be native-born, foreign-born, or naturalized. They owe their allegiance to the United States and are entitled to its protection.

To become a U.S. citizen, you must:

See an overview of the naturalization process

Take the United States Naturalization Test

One of the requirements in the naturalization process is taking the United States Naturalization Test

To prepare for the naturalization test, check out these resources:

For more information, visit the Citizenship Resources Center.

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Certificates of Citizenship and Naturalization

Certificates of Citizenship and Naturalization are proof of your U.S. citizenship.

Get a Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization

Apply for a Certificate of Citizenship if you were born abroad to U.S. citizen parents and they did not obtain a Consular Report of Birth Abroad for you before you turned 18.  

Foreign nationals receive a Certificate of Naturalization when they become American citizens. Get certified copies of a Certificate of Naturalization.

Replace Your Certificates

Replace your Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization if it was lost or stolen.

If you have further questions, contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

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Dual Citizenship or Nationality

Dual citizenship (or dual nationality) means a person may be a citizen of the United States and of another country at the same time. U.S. law does not require a person to choose one citizenship or another.

If you are a citizen of another country and have questions about that country's laws,  policies, and mandatory military service, contact that country's embassy or consulate.

For information on dual nationality from the point of view of another country, please contact that country's embassy or consulate.  

If you have dual citizenship and plan to travel to or from the United States, you must use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States.

Information about giving up or losing your U.S. citizenship is also available.

A licensed attorney skilled in citizenship matters can assist you with questions about your situation. A local bar association can often provide a good referral.

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Establish Citizenship Without a Birth Certificate

If you were born in the U.S. and there is no birth certificate on file, you will need several different documents to prove your citizenship:

If you were born outside the United States and your U.S. parent(s) did not register your birth at the U.S. Embassy or consulate, you may apply for a U.S. passport, but you will need:

  • Your foreign birth record showing your parents' names
  • Evidence of your parent(s) U.S. citizenship
  • Your parents' marriage certificate

If you were born outside the U.S. and your U.S. parent(s) registered your birth with a U.S. Embassy, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) will be able to help you get a copy of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240).

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U.S. Citizenship for People Born Abroad or in U.S. Territories

You are a U.S. citizen if:

  • You have a birth certificate issued by a U.S. state or territory. If you were born in a U.S. territory, but do not have a birth certificate issued by that territory, you may be able to verify your citizenship status using other documents.
  • You were born outside of the U.S. to at least one U.S. citizen parent and your parent(s) recorded your birth with the U.S. Embassy or consulate in that country:

Learn more about births of U.S. citizens abroad.

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Last Updated: May 26, 2017

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