In most situations, the term birth certificate and certificate of live birth refer to the same document, issued to parents after the birth of their child. The U.S. State Department accepts birth certificates as a primary proof of citizenship when applying for a U.S. passport and provides explicit guidelines on what qualifications the certificate must meet before it is accepted. In the event that a certificate of live birth does not meet the State Department requirements, it may be accepted with additional documentation.

Birth Certificate Requirements

All certificates of live birth that meet the U.S. State Department requirements for a certified birth certificate are accepted as proof of citizenship. Certified birth certificates must have a registrar's signature and a seal that either is raised, impressed, embossed or multi-colored. The certificate must list the passport applicant's full name, as well as names of the parents, the date and place of birth and the date on which the certificate was filed. The birth certificate must have been filed within one year of the individual's birth to be accepted for a passport application.

Secondary Evidence of Citizenship

Certain hospitals issue certificates of live birth. For passport applicants who do not have a certified birth certificate, a hospital's certificate of live birth is accepted as proof of citizenship when accompanied by additional documentation. In addition to the hospital-issued certificate, passport applicants must provide either a delayed birth certificate, issued after the first year of life or a letter of no record noting that no birth certificate can be found. The State Department suggests presenting these documents with other early records, such as a baptismal certificate, early census record or a medical record of post-natal care as additional documentation.

Other Acceptable Citizenship Documents

The State Department accepts certain other documents as proof of citizenship in the event that a passport applicant's certificate of live birth does not meet the department's requirements for a certified birth certificate. A previously issued and undamaged U.S. passport, consular report of birth abroad, naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship are accepted in lieu of a certificate of live birth, or birth certificate, when applying for a passport.


In addition to presenting proof of citizenship, such as a certified birth certificate, all passport applicants also must complete a passport application form, provide proof of identity, such as a driver's license, submit a single passport photo and pay all current passport fees before a passport is issued. The certificate of live birth must be submitted with the application and sent to the State Department for approval. It is sent back to the applicant once the passport is issued.