A Certificate of Naturalization is a document that proves the individual identified on it has become a citizen of the United States via naturalization. Naturalization is the process through which a person who was not born in the United States voluntarily becomes a citizen of the United States. Naturalization is the most popular route for foreign-born people to become citizens of the United States. This is not the same as a Certificate of Citizenship.
The bottom margin of your naturalization paperwork should say "Form N-550" or "Form N-570."
Obtaining an Initial Naturalization Certificate
A person first acquires a certificate by completing the naturalization procedure and filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Permanent residents who satisfy the qualifying conditions must usually fill out this form. The certificate is usually issued by USCIS after an officer has approved the Naturalization Application and the applicant has taken the Oath of Allegiance.
Replacing a Certificate of Naturalization
American citizens can file Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document, with USCIS to replace a Certificate of Naturalization. A certificate can be replaced for the following reasons:
Certificate was lost, stolen, destroyed or mutilated
Certificate is incorrect due to a USCIS typographical/clerical error
Name has legally changed
Gender has legally changed
Contents of Certificate
The Certificate of Naturalization provides information that identifies the individual and confirms his or her citizenship in the United States as a result of naturalization. The certificate comprises the following information:
Certificate number (generally a red 6- to 8-digit alpha numeric number)
Date of issuance (date the holder became a U.S. citizen)
USCIS registration number (A-number)
U.S. citizen’s full name
Place of residence
Country of former nationality
Signature of applicant; and
Other descriptors: sex, date of birth, and height
The document also includes a Department of Homeland Security seal as well as a statement and signature from the USCIS Director stating that the applicant met all of the conditions for citizenship under US law.
Certified True Copy of Certificate
When a naturalized U.S. citizen wants a certificate "authenticated" for use by foreign governments or embassies, USCIS can replicate the document and certify it as a true copy. The United States Department of State and other countries use the word "authentication" to describe what USCIS calls Certified True Copies. Use the term "Certified True Copy" when requiring USCIS to validate a naturalization certificate.
Certificate of Naturalization Apostille
Only the United States Department of State in Washington, D.C. can apostille a Certificate of Naturalization. This document cannot be notarized or certified, and it cannot be processed by any State authority. The Secretary of the United States of America or the United States Department of State process all federal paperwork in the United States.
Apostilles will be applied to documents bound for nations that are members of the Hague Apostille Convention. The US Department of State will attach a certificate to nations that are not members.
Please visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, at http://www.uscis.gov/ if you do not have your Certificate of Naturalization. If you don't want to mail in the original, you can ask the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS) to certify a duplicate of your document.
There is no margin for error with the authentication or apostille process. If mistakes are made, both your time and money will be wasted and you'll have to start all over again. If you want to look into outsourcing this part of preparing to studying abroad to someone with experience, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 848-467-7740 to request my services or learn more.