How to apply for a passport without a birth certificate

Updated April 17, 2017

You cannot apply for a passport without a birth certificate without an overwhelming reason. For example, you can do so if the state where you were born lost your birth records and cannot produce one for you. Unacceptable reasons are that you lost your birth certificate and don’t want to order a new one or you don’t remember what city or state you were born in. The government expects you to put in some legwork.

See if you have any of the other primary documents the government accepts as proof of citizenship. These include an old passport, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or a citizenship or naturalisation certificate. Note that a foreign birth certificate is acceptable if you were not born in the United States. If you have any of these documents, skip to step five.

Get a letter from the Department of Vital Records for the state you were born in certifying that there is no birth certificate on file for you. Make sure the letter has your name, birth date and language stating the fact that the department conducted a thorough search.

Obtain as much documentation as possible regarding where and when you were born. Some papers you can use are baptismal records, census paperwork, school enrolment information and medical records. It’s best if these papers include your date and place of birth. Don’t use anything that is newer than five years after you were born.

Have a blood relative that is older than you and remembers the date of your birth fill out form DS-10 Birth Affidavit for you. This is a signed statement that this person, under penalty of law, swears that you were born when and where you say you were. Get this document notarised.

Bring your documentation to any passport issuing office, along with two 2” by 2” photos of your face looking forward, a valid photo ID, and a method of payment for the passport application fee. Fill out your application at the office and wait six to eight weeks for your passport to arrive in the mail.


If you’re not sure where you were born, which is not uncommon if your parents were in the military, get as much information as you can from your relatives. Then call the records departments of hospitals that are possibilities. It may take a few hours to find the right one.


Never try to forge citizenship documents. It is a very serious crime.

Things You'll Need

  • Identifying documents
  • Money for passport fee
  • Passport application
  • Two 2" by 2" photos
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