What to Do If You've Lost Your U.S. Citizenship Certificate

What to Do If You've Lost Your U.S. Citizenship Certificate

1. Introduction

U.S. citizenship certificates are vital documents that serve as proof of an individual’s citizenship in the United States. These certificates are typically issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to individuals who became U.S. citizens through either birth abroad to U.S. citizen parents or naturalization. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of this document and provide a comprehensive guide on what to do if your certificate is lost or stolen.

The U.S. citizenship certificate is a crucial document, as it enables you to obtain and prove your rights as a U.S. citizen. It is important for applying for a U.S. passport, social security benefits, and voting in federal elections.

2. Immediate Steps to Take

If you discover that your citizenship certificate is lost or stolen, it’s essential to act quickly to minimize potential issues associated with not having the document and to obtain a replacement. Here are some immediate steps you should take:

Report the lost certificate to the local police

Though not required by USCIS, it’s a good idea to file a report with your local police department to create a record of the loss or theft. This can help safeguard your identity and reduce the risk of any fraudulent use of your certificate. Be sure to get a copy of the police report for your records.

Collect all relevant personal information

Before contacting the USCIS, you’ll need to gather all necessary personal information, including your name, date of birth, country of birth, naturalization or citizenship certificate number, dates of citizenship or naturalization, and a copy of the police report if you filed one.

Briefly call the USCIS to report the loss

Contact the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 to inform them of the loss or theft of your citizenship certificate. The representative will provide guidance on the next steps, which will likely involve filing a replacement request using Form N-565.


3. Filing a Replacement Request: Form N-565

If you have lost your U.S. citizenship certificate, you will need to file a replacement request through USCIS using Form N-565. In this section, we will provide an overview of Form N-565, a step-by-step guide to completing the form, required documentation, and information about filing fees and payment methods.

Overview of Form N-565

Form N-565, the Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document, is the official form used by USCIS to replace lost, stolen, or damaged citizenship certificates. In addition to replacing citizenship certificates, Form N-565 can also be used to replace Certificates of Naturalization, Declaration of Intention, or other important USCIS-issued documents.

Step-by-Step Guide to Completing the Form

To successfully complete Form N-565, follow these steps:

  1. Download a copy of# Filing a Replacement Request: Form N-565

If your U.S. citizenship certificate is lost, stolen, or damaged, you will need to file a replacement request with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) using Form N-565. This section provides an overview of Form N-565, a step-by-step guide on completing the form, information on required documentation, and details on filing fees and payment methods.

Overview of Form N-565

Form N-565, officially known as the “Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document,” is the form you must submit to USCIS to request a replacement for your lost, stolen, or damaged citizenship certificate. The form can be found on the USCIS website.

Step-by-step Guide to Completing the Form

Here is a step-by-step guide to completing Form N-565:

  1. Download the latest version of Form N-565 from the USCIS website.
  2. Accurately complete the “Type of Application” section by selecting the appropriate reason for your application – in this case, “Replacement” for a lost, stolen, or damaged certificate.
  3. Fill in all required personal information, including your name, date of birth, Social Security Number (if applicable), Alien Registration Number (A-Number), and contact information.
  4. Provide details about your lost, stolen, or damaged citizenship certificate, such as the certificate number, the date it was issued, and the reason you are requesting a replacement.
  5. Answer all questions pertaining to your moral character and any affiliations with certain organizations or activities.
  6. Thoroughly read the “Oath” section, and sign and date the application.

Required Documentation

When submitting Form N-565, you must include all required supporting documents. Some of these documents may include:

  • Two identical, passport-style color photographs taken within 30 days of filing the application.
  • A copy of a government-issued identification with your photo, such as a driver’s license or passport.
  • Evidence of your citizenship or naturalization, if available (e.g., photocopy of the lost certificate or other documents).
  • A copy of the police report if you filed one, or a signed statement detailing the theft or loss if the event was not reported to the police.

For a complete list of required documents based on your specific situation, refer to the Form N-565 Instructions.

Filing Fees and Payment Methods

As of October 2, 2020, the filing fee for Form N-565 is $555. You can pay the fee using a check or money order made payable to the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” or by completing a Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions to pay by credit card. If you submit your application online, you can pay the fee directly through your USCIS online account.

For the most up-to-date information on filing fees, visit the USCIS Fee Schedule webpage.

4. Submitting Form N-565

Once you have completed Form N-565, it is crucial to correctly submit it to ensure timely processing. In this section, we’ll provide a brief overview of the available submission methods, where to send the form based on your location, and how to track the status of your application.

Submission Methods: Online or By Mail

There are two methods to submit your Form N-565: online or by mail. To file online, create an account with the USCIS and follow the on-screen instructions for the electronic submission process. If you prefer to mail a paper application, send the completed form, along with any required supporting documents and payment, to the appropriate USCIS address provided on the Form N-565 webpage.

Where to Submit the Form Based on Your Location

The specific filing location for your Form N-565 depends on your state of residence. For detailed information on the correct mailing address based on your location, visit the USCIS Filing Addresses webpage.

Tracking the Status of Your Application

After submitting your application, you will receive a receipt notice from the USCIS. This receipt will have a unique tracking number, which you can use to check the status of your application on the USCIS Case Status Online platform. Additional updates about your application, including any requests for additional documentation or an interview, will be communicated by mail or on the online portal.

5. Supporting Documents

When submitting your Form N-565, it’s crucial to include all required supporting documents. This section provides information on the types of supporting documents to include, how to obtain certified copies or replacements of vital records, and translations of documents if needed.

List of Supporting Documents to Include with the Application

Some of the required supporting documents for your application include:

  • Two passport-sized photographs
  • A copy of a government-issued photo ID
  • Evidence of your citizenship or naturalization
  • A copy of the police report, if filed

For a complete list of documents required for your specific situation, refer to the Form N-565 Instructions.

How to Obtain Certified Copies or Replacements of Vital Records

If you’re missing original documents, certified copies can typically be obtained from the issuing authority, such as a county clerk or vital records office. Each state has its own process for requesting certified copies, so be sure to research your state’s specific requirements. Websites such as VitalChek can also help you obtain certified copies of vital records.

Translations of Documents, If Needed

If any of the required supporting documents are in a language other than English, you must submit a certified English translation along with the original document. The translator must include a statement certifying that they are proficient in both English and the original document’s language and that the translation is accurate and complete.

6. After Submitting the Application

Once you have submitted your Form N-565 along with the required supporting documents, it’s essential to be aware of the potential processing time, notifications from USCIS, and your options if your application is denied.

Potential Processing Time

The processing time for Form N-565 may vary depending on the USCIS office handling your case and the overall workload. According to the USCIS Processing Times webpage, the estimated processing time for Form N-565 is between 5 to 8.5 months. However, this is a rough estimate, and actual processing times may be longer or shorter.

Notification of USCIS’ Decision

When the USCIS has reached a decision regarding your application, you will be notified through mail or via your online USCIS account (if you filed electronically). If your application is approved, you will receive your replacement citizenship certificate in the mail. However, in some cases, USCIS may request additional information or ask you to appear for an in-person interview at a local USCIS office.

What to Do If Your Application Is Denied

If your Form N-565 application is denied, you will receive a written explanation from USCIS with the reason for the denial. You can choose to appeal this decision by filing Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion. You must submit this form within 30 days of receiving the denial notice. There is a filing fee associated with Form I-290B, so please review the USCIS Fee Schedule to determine the current cost. Keep in mind that appealing the decision does not guarantee an approval, but it does allow for a re-examination of your case.

During the appeal process, gather any additional supporting evidence that could help you address the reasons for the initial denial. If your appeal is successful, you will receive your replacement citizenship certificate. If it is unsuccessful, consider seeking legal advice from an experienced immigration attorney to explore other options.

7. Precautions to Avoid Losing the Certificate Again

After successfully obtaining a replacement U.S. citizenship certificate, it’s essential to take precautions to prevent losing it again. By practicing safe storage and handling, you can minimize the chances of misplacing or damaging this vital document. In this section, we’ll discuss a few tips to help you securely store and manage your citizenship certificate.

Safe Storage and Handling Tips

  • Store your citizenship certificate in a safe, secure location such as a safety deposit box or fireproof home safe.
  • Don’t carry the original document with you on a daily basis; instead, use photocopies or digital scans for routine tasks, as we’ll discuss below.
  • Keep your certificate in a protective sleeve or document holder to protect it from physical damage or spills.
  • Maintain a digital backup of your certificate by scanning it in high resolution and saving it to secure cloud storage or an encrypted USB drive.

Using Photocopies and Digital Scans for Everyday Use

For most non-official purposes, such as general identification purposes, you can use photocopies or digital scans of your citizenship certificate. Provide the original document only when it’s mandatory, such as for passport applications or certain government-related benefits.

Traveling with Your Citizenship Certificate

When traveling, avoid carrying your original citizenship certificate; instead, use your U.S. passport to prove citizenship when necessary. In cases where you must bring the certificate, ensure that it’s kept in a secure location, such as a hotel safe, when not in use. Keep a digital copy of the document on your phone or email as a backup.

8. Conclusion

In conclusion, replacing a lost U.S. citizenship certificate involves taking immediate measures like reporting the loss to the local police, calling USCIS, gathering necessary personal information, and filing Form N-565. Once the application has been submitted and processed, you’ll be issued a replacement certificate.

Implementing safe storage and handling practices can help avoid the loss or damage of your citizenship certificate in the future. By protecting your document and using photocopies or digital scans when possible, you can minimize the likelihood of needing to navigate the replacement process again. Remember, safeguarding your citizenship certificate is crucial to easily proving your rights and responsibilities as a U.S. citizen.