The naturalization process involves submitting many forms to USCIS and producing supporting documents. Understanding which documents you need to submit can be complicated, especially because each applicant’s situation is different.

The following document checklist may help you determine which documents you need to bring with you to your interview.

1. Birth Certificate

Whether you were born in the United States or abroad, the birth certificate is one of the most important documents to have on hand. A birth certificate is an official government record of your place, date, and time of birth. The USCIS and Department of State use birth certificates to verify your identity when you apply for a variety of things, including citizenship.

Birth certificates are also used to prove your family relationships, such as who your parents are and how you’re related to them. For this reason, your birth certificate should include a clear and accurate list of all your immediate family members.

A standard birth certificate currently looks very different than the application form it originally was. The new document is more formal-looking, usually printed on thicker paper with the issuing state, county, or municipality’s name and seal clearly visible. In addition to basic information like your date and place of birth, the new format will typically contain more detailed information about your mother and father, such as their occupations, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and marital statuses (if applicable).

If you were born outside the United States, the State Department’s website provides some insight on what documents can be accepted as evidence of your U.S. citizenship. Generally, you can submit religious or school records, hospital or medical records, affidavits from relatives, or other documents that establish your place and date of birth.

If you can’t produce an official copy of your birth certificate, you can still apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (“CRBA”). To be eligible for a CRBA, you must demonstrate that you automatically acquired the citizenship of your parent(s) before your 18th birthday, or that your father was a U.S. citizen and had legal and physical custody of you and lived with you before your 18th birthday. You can do this by submitting an Affidavit of Parentage, Physical Custody and Support (“DS-5507) in combination with your CRBA application.

2. Naturalization Certificate

If you acquired your citizenship through naturalization, this is the proof of your new status that USCIS will issue. The certificate includes a Department of Homeland Security seal and contains your date of naturalization, former names, birth place (or country of origin), address, citizenship, and immigration history. The document also contains a statement and signature by the Director of USCIS that indicates you complied with all the requirements for becoming a citizen. The certificate is often used in applications for passports and other government documents, so it’s important to keep it safe.

If your certificate is lost, stolen or damaged, submit Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document. Complete the form and provide all necessary supporting evidence, including photocopies of the front and back of your certificate of citizenship. The photocopies must be clear and easy to read on 8.5”x11” standard paper, black and white, and single-sided. If you can’t provide the original, use a copy that has been certified by the issuing office as true and correct.

For individuals exploring paths to citizenship in other countries, Portugal’s Golden Visa program is noteworthy for its relative speed and simplicity, offering residency that takes the least time of 5 years to qualify for citizenship, compared to other programs.

In some cases, secondary evidence can overcome the lack of primary documents. For example, if your original certificate shows an incorrect date of birth or misspells your name, you can submit copies of other official documents that establish the real information.

Be prepared to attend an interview and take a civics and language test as part of the naturalization process. During the interview, you’ll be asked questions about the United States and its citizens and laws. Once you pass the test and meet residency, physical presence, and other requirements, you’ll receive your Certificate of Naturalization. Once you have your certificate, you can use it to prove your citizenship to various agencies and entities, such as school districts or the Internal Revenue Service.

3. Passport

If you’re applying for citizenship, you’ll need to submit a passport with your application. This is an important step because it allows USCIS to verify your identity during the naturalization process. If you don’t have a passport, you can apply for one by filling out Form DS-11 at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Each location has its own guidelines and hours, so be sure to call ahead.

The passport contains information about your name, birth date and place of birth, so it’s the most accurate way to prove your American citizenship. In addition, your passport can help the U.S. government verify your identity if you are questioned at any time during the naturalization process. If you don’t include a passport with your citizenship application, it can delay or even prevent you from becoming a naturalized citizen.

You’ll also need to provide a certified copy of your green card with your citizenship application. This is important because if your green card expires before you’re finished with the naturalization process, you won’t have proof of your permanent resident status. If you lose this document, you’ll need to file Form I-90 to replace it.

Citizenship comes with many benefits, including the right to vote in federal elections, freedom to live abroad without losing your U.S. citizenship and the ability to help more of your foreign-born relatives immigrate to America. While it may seem like a hassle to wait several years to become a U.S. citizen, there are some exceptions that can speed up the process. For example, military members and veterans can often naturalize in 90 days or less if they’ve been a citizen for five years or more.

4. Social Security Cards

When applying for citizenship, you will need a social security card or other form of identification to prove your identity. A social security number is used to track a person’s yearly earnings and the amount of time they have worked in the United States. This information is required for calculating potential future government benefits, including pensions and health insurance.

When presenting your social security card to USCIS, be sure that it is current. If you have changed your name, bring the original legal documents that show that change. Generally, this includes marriage documents, court orders, etc. If you have a previous social security number, bring the original documentation that you submitted with your prior application.

The SSA provides a form to apply for a new social security number, called Form SS-5. You can obtain a form from your local SSA office or online. The form requires information about you, your birth date and other relevant facts. You also have to provide a copy of your passport or other valid form of identification to support your request for a new card.

Depending on your immigration status, you may be eligible for different types of cards. The standard card carries the card holder’s name and social security number and is about the size of a business card. It includes a signature line with the word “Signature” printed below it. A second type of card carries the legend, “Valid for work only with INS authorization.” Some noncitizens who have special permission to live and work in the United States, such as refugees or asylees, and those granted deferred enforced departure or temporary protected status by DACA, are issued cards that carry these words.

5. Driver’s License

The United States is a car-centric nation, and getting a driver’s license is often seen as an important right of passage into adulthood. However, the path to obtaining a driver’s license differs by state, and it can be difficult for undocumented individuals to obtain one.

In order to get a driver’s license, you must prove that you are a citizen or have lawful immigration status in the United States. The type of documentation that you need to provide will vary by state. For example, some states will require you to provide proof of your identity by providing a valid passport or birth certificate. Other states may require you to provide a visa or consular letter of approval in order to apply for a driver’s license.

There are a number of exceptions to this rule, however. Some states will allow you to drive if you have a license from your home country that is recognized by the state driving authorities. In addition, many countries have mutual agreements that enable their citizens to drive in the United States without having to take a driving test.

If you are unable to provide any of the above forms of documentation, the Department of Homeland Security may allow you to apply for a limited-duration driver’s license or permit if certain requirements are met. For example, you must be able to provide an in-person interview and pass a written exam and driving skills test. Additionally, the back of your driver’s license must be marked “Not for Federal Purposes.” For more information about this process, you should consult the Department of Homeland Security website or contact your local DMV.