Per FIFA's Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, the international clearance process is required when any foreign-born player over the age of 10 is attempting to register with an affiliated club in the United States, regardless of that player's ability or citizenship. U.S. Soccer is responsible for properly obtaining that clearance on behalf of these players before they can register and participate in an affiliated league.
Under FIFA's rules, there are four options by which a player born outside of the U.S. can register with an affiliated league.
- Proof of Entry Prior to 10 – Players who have entered the U.S. prior to the age of 10 (regardless of their current age) and have been continuously living in the country since moving, can supply a copy of an official document to prove that fact (e.g. report cards, doctor records, etc.).
- First Registration
- U.S. Citizens – U.S. citizens born outside the U.S. (regardless of current age) may simply complete and sign the First Registration form attesting that the player has never been registered at any level to play soccer in any other country. U.S. Soccer can immediately clear the player upon receipt of this document.
- Non-U.S. Citizens – A player born outside of the U.S., who is currently over the age of 18, may also complete and sign the First Registration form. U.S. Soccer will contact the foreign association for confirmation and will clear the player once that is received.
- Minors Process – Any player currently between the ages of 10 and 17 who is NOT eligible for one of the preceding methods must prove to U.S. Soccer that he/she meets one of the following exceptions:
- The player has moved with his/her parents to the U.S. for reasons other than playing soccer (e.g. parent's work).
- The player lives outside the U.S., but no further than 30 miles from the national border. In addition, the U.S. Soccer-affiliated club with which the player wishes to be registered is within 30 miles of that same border.
- ITC Request – Any player over the age of 18 who has been previously registered to a club in another country cannot be registered to a club in the United States until U.S. Soccer has received an International Transfer Certificate (ITC) from the player's former association. To initiate this process, the player must complete and submit an ITC Request form to U.S. Soccer, who will then request the ITC from the national association with which the player was most recently registered.
The chart below explains which process should be used, depending on the player's age:
Prior to 10 Process
Players who were born outside of the U.S. but entered the country to live prior to their 10th birthday simply need to provide proof in order to be cleared to register with U.S. Soccer. The document being used as proof should have the player's name, a date that is prior to the player's 10th birthday, and show that the player was taking part in day-to-day life in the United States.
Acceptable forms of proof documentation include, but are not limited to, the following:
- School report cards
- Doctor/immunization records (must be dated and signed by U.S.-based doctor)
- Certificate of Baptism
- Previous registration history with a different sports program
Unacceptable forms of proof documentation include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Passport/visa entry page
- Class group photo that does not individually identify each student
- Letter from player/parents verifying the date they moved to the country
In order to be cleared via this method, the player should complete the following steps:
- Complete the Prior to 10 Submission Form
- Obtain a copy of some form of official document that proves the player was living in the United States prior to their 10th birthday per examples listed above.
- Send a copy of both the P-10 Form and proof document to League/State Association and U.S. Soccer Federation
Once received, the player's documentation is reviewed by U.S. Soccer and approval is sent to League/State Association. Players should communicate with their State Associations to verify whether clearance has been granted.
Please note that children have medical privacy rights and there is no obligation to release any information concerning a child's medical history or identifiers.
First Registration Process
This international clearance process is only for players who have never been registered to a club affiliated with another national association.
U.S. Citizens: U.S. Citizens born outside of the U.S. may be cleared to register by simply completing and signing the First Registration Form. This process is available to all players, regardless of current age and skill level.
U.S. Citizens born outside of the U.S. must complete the following steps:
- Fill out the First Registration Form.
- Submit the completed form, along with valid proof of U.S. citizenship, to State Association/League and U.S. Soccer.
Upon receipt, U.S. Soccer will review the paperwork and will notify the affiliated member if the player is clear to register.
Non-U.S. Citizens: A player who is not a U.S. Citizen and is currently aged 18 or over may also be cleared to register by the First Registration process. However, there is an additional step required (if player is under the age of 18, please see the Minors info).
Once a player completes the two steps listed above, U.S. Soccer will contact the foreign national association of the player and inquire whether they have any registrations, at any level, for the player in question. If no response is given within seven (7) days or the foreign national association confirms there was no previous registration, U.S. Soccer will notify the league member that player is free to register. If the foreign federation states, however, that the player had been previously registered, the player cannot use the First Registration option and will have to be cleared via a different method.
Minors International Clearance Process
Any player under the age of 18 who is not eligible for the Prior to 10 clearance method will be required to go through the FIFA Transfer Matching System (TMS) in order to obtain their international transfer clearance.
FIFA's Regulations state that international transfers of players are only permitted if the player is over the age of 18. However, there are three exceptions to the rule:
- The player's parents move to the country in which the new club is located for reasons not linked to soccer.
- The transfer takes place within the territory of the European Union.
- The player lives outside the country, but no further than 50km from a national border. In addition, the club with which the player wishes to be registered in the neighboring association is also within 50km of that border.
U.S. Soccer can use exceptions No. 1 and No. 3, as the second exception deals only with players in Europe. The documentation listed below is required in order to prove a minor player qualifies for this process.
Please note that these are the only exceptions that can be used to process an international transfer for a minor. U.S. Soccer is not permitted to proceed with a clearance request for a player that does not fit one of these two categories.
To review these applications, documents are uploaded into FIFA TMS and are reviewed by FIFA, which makes the final determination on whether a First Registration clearance or ITC could be requested for a minor player.
In order to get registered under the first exception, the minor player (and parents) should follow these steps:
- Collect required documentation to prove that the player meets the ‘parents’ exception:
- Player’s Passport
- Player’s Birth Certificate
- Player’s Parents’ Passports
- Player’s Parents’ Work Visas
- Player’s Parents’ Proof of Residence (Utility bill, lease agreement, etc.)
- Player’s Parents’ Proof of Employment (Pay Stub, Employment Verification Letter, etc.)
- Completed ITC Request or First Registration form
- If player has been previously registered outside of U.S., use ITC Request Form
- If player has never been registered to any club, use First Registration Form
- Forward documentation to State Association/League, who will in turn pass on to U.S. Soccer.
Please send all documents in separate, individual PDF files. FIFA TMS only permits the upload of PDFs and does not support any other file format. Documentation sent in any other format will not be accepted and will need to be resent in PDF format.
In order to get registered under the third exception, the minor player (and parents) should follow these steps:
- Collect required documentation to prove that the player meets the ‘50km’ exception
- Completed ITC request form
- Player’s birth certificate
- Player’s passport
- Proof of residence of player in Canada or Mexico (must be within 50km of the border)
- Proof of address of the club in the U.S. (must also be within 50km of the border)
- Proof of distance between player’s residence and club (cannot exceed 100km)
- Forward documentation to State Association/League, who will in turn pass on to U.S. Soccer.
ITC Request Process
Any player over the age of 18 who has been previously registered to a club in another country cannot be registered to an affiliated club in the United States until U.S. Soccer has received an International Transfer Certificate (ITC) from the player's former association.
In order to initiate this process, the player should follow these steps:
- Complete the ITC Request Form.
a. Please note the request will not be processed unless the entire document is fully completed and signed by the player.
- Forward the form to the State Association/League and U.S. Soccer Federation.
Upon receipt of the completed form, U.S. Soccer will request the player's ITC from the national association with which the player was most recently registered. Once a response is received, U.S. Soccer will notify the State Association/League immediately via e-mail.
Per FIFA regulations, the foreign association has up to 30 days from the date the ITC was formally requested to respond, after which U.S. Soccer can issue a Provisional ITC to allow the player to be registered immediately.
If a player holds professional status and wishes to register as an amateur with an amateur club in the U.S., the player will be need to go through the amateur reinstatement process before that registration can be approved. Per FIFA regulations, a player registered as a professional may not re-register as an amateur until at least 30 days after the player's last match as a professional. The player must also be out of contract at the time of application.
In order to complete this process, the player should follow these steps:
- Complete the Amateur Reinstatement Form.
- Submit the form and $50 application fee to U.S. Soccer at the following address:
U.S. Soccer Federation
Attn: Federation Services Department/Amateur Reinstatement
1801 South Prairie Avenue
Chicago, IL 60616
Once received, if FIFA requirements are met, U.S. Soccer will process the reinstatement and notify the player, club, league, and/or State Association.
Links to International Transfer Clearance (ITC) Forms