Proof of residency – Do you live abroad?

If you are living in the USA or the EU the documents required are basically the same. I am a dual citizen and have been through the process on both sides of the Atlantic.

I wrote this post in repose to the a series of request I had to go through with governments and I thought it would be of value for people going through the same things.

For example, I have a daughter that I am trying to get confirmed as a US citizen. The process is actually easy but a lot of paperwork.  One of the requirements is to prove that you have lived in the USA for at least 5 years.

What documents are acceptable to prove residency?

  • passport new and old with exit and entry stamps
  • tax returns
  • school records, high school or college
  • social security statements
  • w-2 forms
  • Utility bills with your address and they are getting paid
  • Anything that is official and accepted as a legal and binding contract.
  • or travel records obtained which you can get by writing the  U.S. Customs and Border Protection the address is: 1300 Pennsylvania Ave, NW;  Mint Annex Building, FOIA Division; Washington, DC  zip 20229

I highly recommend you collect all your paperwork in a folder before you have a meeting at the embassy or the government office. Collect it organize it in dividers. Have everything looking sharp like a school girl’s presentation. I would even create a summary document in a spreadsheet that explains all the documents with labels attached. These guys are like gloried postal workers and there is no creative thinking. You either have the document or not. They do not accept stories. I know it is hard in life and no one these days has a lot of money, especially to pay with legal leases and registration but if you want to be a legal resident you have to organize your life story in a clear, crisp concise manner.

If you want to prove your residency for citizenship and or children born abroad to a US citizen or to be president of the US, be prepared to be honest, as they can check everything, and have good records with raised seals and official stamps.

The reason you might need to prove your residence is:

I am a long-term expatriate have had to do this in both the USA and Europe for myself and my family. The local rules vary but the general rules are the same. All governments need some printable, tangible proof that you live, with a real address in a house or apartment rather than a mailbox.

Why do countries care about legal domicile?
You can argue and say it is unfair and the people in the government office or embassy or the department of immigration do not understand, and that might be true, but you still need to present this proof.

I live in Poland and many Polish people complain about paper work.  Actually I found that Polish paperwork and proof of residency easier than US.  See in Poland you have a PESEL and the governments knows everything about you (throw back from communism) based on this. While in the US, there is no real central control over citizen records, the responsibility is on you to prove it.

Why do we have laws of residency?
Laws are created by a society to represent the collective unconsciousness of the society. The government only enforces them. They are there to protect the citizens from an unfair influx of people who should not be there for political reasons. Sure it might seem unfair but those are the rules and without rules all would be chaos, a society of anarchy.

I am personally a libertarian and believe in the free flow of movement of labor and capital but until that utopian day of real world-wide freedom we have laws and boundaries.

So you just have to bite the bullet and collect the documents you need and live in abidance.

What is a resident?
A long-term person, rather than a temporary or visitor. It usually is connected with a visa or permanent right to live in a country like a green card. It comes from the Latin word residēre and is connected to reside or a residence.

Author: Mark Biernat

I live in with family between two worlds, US and Europe where I create tools for language learning. If you found my site you probability share my passion to be a life long learner. Please explore my site and comment.

2 thoughts on “Proof of residency – Do you live abroad?”

  1. I’m in the process of doing the same through the US General Consulate in Moscow, Russia. Initially they wanted me to pay three different fees and fill in a few forms (which I happily did). Then they requested a proof of (a) relationship with the mother of my child born in Moscow and (b) proof of residence for the last five years. We satisfied the above requirements fairly easily (provided tax returns from 2005 for (b)) but now the Consulate wants me to provide a proof of residence back to… 1997! No idea of what could be considered as a proof given that 12 years passed since then. I do have the old passport but will they check all ins and outs? I doubt it.

    1. The main thing is do not give up. When you hear about the requirement of proof of residency for the first time it sounds very hard. But once you step back from the process and realize it is only a paper chase, and take your time you can get the documents together. Yes, use your passports as one source. Get an excel spreadsheet and start to document all the times you have been in the USA and all the times you left. On another column document your evidence of residency, such as a passport or any other legal documents. School records are great. Proof of residency for citizenship is more an exercise in patience and excel than anything else.

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