How Do I Apply for a Social Security Card?

Getting a Social Security card is actually a very simple process, and often, it’s free.

There is no charge to replace your Social Security card with a new one, as long as you have not applied at least 3 times this year or 10 times in your life.

You can actually do this online if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are a legal citizen of the United States and are at least 18 years of age.
  • You have a mailing address in the United States.
  • You are not requesting a card with a new name, such as in the case of a legal name change.
  • You have a government-issued ID card or driver’s license from any of the states listed on the Social Security website.

If you do not meet all of the above criteria, then you’ll have to apply in-person and bring the required documents. The documents required depend on your citizenship and the card type you’re requesting.

If you can’t apply online, here’s what you’ll need:

Proof of Citizenship

United States-issued birth certificates and United States-issued passports are the only proof of citizenship that is accepted to replace lost Social Security cards.

Proof of Age

In most cases, the Social Security Administration will use your birth certificate to prove your age. However, if you do not possess a birth certificate then the following might be accepted:

  • Religious records that show date of birth. These records must be from when you were 5 years old or younger.
  • Hospital records from your birth.
  • United States Passport.

Proof of Identity

The Social Security Administration will only accept certain documents as proof of identity. Acceptable documents must not be expired and must show your full name, date of birth, and preferably a photograph. Some examples include:

  • Driver’s License.
  • Identification Card issued by the State you Reside In
  • U.S. Passport

If you are unable to provide any of the above documents, then other forms of identification can be used. Keep in mind that any submitted documents will need your name, preferably a photograph, and any other identifying information.

  • Employee ID
  • School ID
  • Health Insurance Card
  • U.S.-Issued Military ID

Step-by-Step Look at Replacing a Social Security Card

Once you have all of the required documents gathered, here is the exact process for replacing your Social Security card. This process is for adults. If you need to replace a card for a child, then the process is a bit different.  

Step 1: Gather all Required Documents

By this point, you should have all of these documents prepared. Just make sure they are all organized and ready for submission so that the process will go smoothly.

Step 2: Fill Out the Application

The form is called Form SS-5. Fill it out, print it, and put all documentation with it. Keep in mind that you will need to provide all documents along with the application. Photocopies of these documents will not be accepted – only the originals. If you’re worried about keeping copies, keep in mind that all documents will be mailed back to you along with your new Social Security card.

Step 3: Submit the Application

You can either submit the application in-person or mail it. Again, you must send in the originals or copies that are certified through the issuing agency. You cannot send photocopies.

You will not be charged to replace your card but there is a limit to how many times you can request a replacement for free.

It is either:

  • 3 times per Year.
  • 10 times in your lifetime.

There are third-party companies that can help with replacing your Social Security card. Like with taxes, you can either file the paperwork yourself or pay for their assistance. Either way is fine, but be sure that you hire a certified company if you plan to go that route.

How to Replace a Social Security Card for a Child

If you need to replace your child’s social security card, here are the steps you will need to follow.

Step 1: Gather All Documents Proving the Child’s Identity

Just like for adults, you will need to prove the identity of the child. Pretty much any document that proves the child’s U.S. citizenship will work. If the child has not been established as a U.S. citizen yet, then that will need to be done.

Step 2: Gather All Documents Proving Your Relationship with the Child

In addition to the child’s proof, you will need to prove your identity as a legal guardian of the child. In most cases, a birth certificate or adoption papers will do.

Step 3: Fill out the Application

This process is the same as described in the section above for adults.

Step 4: Submit the Application

Either submit the application in-person or mail it along with all documents listed above. Remember, photocopied documents are not accepted. The documents must be originals or certified copies by the issuing agency.

Individuals Applying for an Original Social Security Card

If for some reason you need to apply for an original social security card, the process is going to be much different.

Anyone who is over 12 years of age and never had an original Social Security number on record will be required to appear in-person for an interview where they will be asked to show evidence that they don’t have a current number.

For individuals who lived in another country for an extended period of time, passports, school records, employment records, and documents that prove long-term residence outside of the United States can be used as proof.

For individuals who have lived in the United States but are applying for a number, school and tax records can be used to prove that they were never assigned a number.

Social Security Cards for Noncitizens

This is only needed by noncitizens who want to work in the United States. The Social Security numbers for these people are used to report wages to the federal government to determine that person’s eligibility to collect Social Security benefits.

Immigrants can apply in two ways:

In home country when applying for an immigrant visa.

Generally, this prevents an in-person visit to the Social Security office when the applicant arrives in the United States.

In person once they arrive

Going this route, they will need to prove identity, age, immigration status, clearance to work, and passport.

What is a Social Security card for?

Basically, this card (and number) is used to track your lifetime earnings and work history so that during retirement or if/when you need to access Social Security disability benefits, the government can determine your eligibility.

This number will be used by all of your employers to report your earnings to the IRS and your Social Security wages to the SSA.

You also need to use your Social Security number when opening an account at a bank, applying for a federal loan, enrolling in Medicare, getting a passport, filing a tax return, getting a driver’s license, and more.

31 thoughts on “How Do I Apply for a Social Security Card?”

  1. Do I need new card if married and original card has maiden name on it need card for renew drivers license New thing to be able to fly in 2020

  2. I need to get a social security replacement for my son who is 13 yr old. I live in va and scares send originals documenfs can i makd copy of it or take it to my va ss office to grt a card for him

  3. Neither my husband nor I have received the new social security cards that were supposed to be mailed out within the past year. Who do I contact?

  4. Janell K Millus-Garcia

    I never changed my name over when I got married on my social security card my oregon I’d has my maiden and current last name on it togather can I get a replacement social security card with that Id

  5. I just got off child support my drivers license are expired all I have is my expired license for I.D to get my new social security card and y’all won’t accept it I have no other documents to give y’all and y’all ain’t even accepting my birth Certificate please tell me what else I can do I got 6 kids and I need my drivers license so I can go back to work

  6. Want to know could I come in and get sa social security card that same day or do I have to wait 2-3 weeks to get it in the mail ?

  7. Need to get a social security number for my son who was born in Charlotte but currently location New York City .. How would I be able to go about that .

  8. I live in Canada and I have a Social Security number but I can’t remember the number. I would like to come to the office to retrieve my number. Do you have an international phone number that I can call to make an appointment?

  9. I just became a Us Citizen last month, they told me I need to go to the SSO( social security office) to change thatvon the system. Can i do that online , or I have to go to the office in person? If the second option, do I need to set an appointment or can I just go to the office when I have free time?
    Thanks !

  10. Shinian Chen & Shuhui Su

    My wife and I became American citizen in March of 2019, we need to replace our social security card. So I request to make appointment to process the new social security car. Thank you!
    Shinian Chen & Shuhui Su

  11. Marsha N.Swails

    Will you please send me the correct form to change my name on my social security card and a list of the correct documents I need to do so?

  12. Hugues Macquart-Moulin

    I have just received my permanent resident status. At the time of my application I did not ask for a SS# and card. I would like to apply now for one in Rutland Vt. Do I need to make an appointment at the SS office there?

  13. If I’m moving from South Dakota to Nebraska, do I need to apply for a new SS card. and how soon do I need to after I have moved or should I do it before I move

  14. Abdelrahman Mohamed harraz

    I am an American citizen living in egypt, I have an American passport but I do not have a social security number and I was told that I have to get proof that I was residing outside the usa for all this period like school records and college records and employment records, I already have them translated to english with me now but I need to know do I have to certify or legalise them or have them stamped from the foreign affairs ministry here in egypt or the translation is enough

    1. I am in the same situation as yours.
      Get the translated ones certified by the agency that issued them. For example regarding your degree, get the translated degree certified by the institution that issued it.

  15. Hi,
    I just came with the DV Lottery program for Green Card, I went to Social Security Office in Newcastle, DE site to apply for my Social Security Card and they gave me a receipt that I’ve lost, said that they will send the card to me in 10 working days. But it’s been 10 days now and I haven’t receive my Social Security Card.
    What should I do please?

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