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Social Security Number and Card


Your nine-digit Social Security number remains your first and continuous link with Social Security. It helps us accurately record your covered wages or self-employment earnings. We also use it to monitor your record once you start getting benefits.

Why Do You Need One?


You need a Social Security number to get a job, collect Social Security benefits and get some other government services. But you don't often need to show your Social Security card. Do not carry your card with you. Keep it in a safe place with your other important papers.

Learn what documents you will need to get a Social Security Card

Who is the card for

Original Card for a U.S. Born Adult

You must present original documents or copies certified by the agency that issued them. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies. All documents must be current (not expired). We cannot accept a receipt showing you applied for the document.

Original Card for a U.S. Born Child

Social Security must verify a birth record for all U.S.-born applicants who apply for an original Social Security number. An exception is made for a parent who applies for a baby's Social Security number at the hospital when the baby is born. To verify a birth record, Social Security will contact the office that issued it. All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. We also cannot accept a receipt showing you applied for the document. Get a certified copy of a document showing a birth, marriage or divorce that took place in the U.S.

Types of card

Original Card for a U.S. Born Adult

You must present original documents or copies certified by the agency that issued them. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies. All documents must be current (not expired). We cannot accept a receipt showing you applied for the document.

Replacement Card for a U.S. Born Adult

You can replace your Social Security card for free if it is lost or stolen. However, you may not need to get a replacement card. Knowing your Social Security number is what is important. You are limited to three replacement cards in a year and 10 during your lifetime. Legal name changes and other exceptions do not count toward these limits. For example, changes in immigration status that require card updates may not count toward these limits. Also, you may not be affected by these limits if you can prove you need the card to prevent a significant hardship.

Corrected Card for a U.S. Born Adult

If you legally change your name because of marriage, divorce, court order or any other reason, you need to tell Social Security so that you can get a corrected card. If you are working, also tell your employer. If you do not tell us when your name changes, it may:
  • Prevent your wages from being posted correctly to your Social Security record, which may lower the amount of your future Social Security benefits.
  • Cause delays when you file your taxes.

    Citizenship of the person the card is for

    What original documents do I need?

    Citizenship
    If you have not already established your U.S. citizenship with us, we need to see proof of U.S. citizenship. We can accept only certain documents as proof of U.S. citizenship. These include a U.S. birth certificate or U.S. passport.
    Name change
    If you need to change your name on your Social Security card, you must show us proof of your legal name change. Documents Social Security may accept to prove a legal name change include:
    • Marriage document;
    • Divorce decree;
    • Certificate of Naturalization showing the new name; or
    • Court order approving the name change.
    If the document you provide as evidence of a legal name change does not give us enough information to identify you in our records or if you changed your name more than two years ago (four years ago if you are under 18 years of age), you must show us an identity document in your prior name (as shown in our records). We will accept an identity document in your old name that has expired.
    If you do not have an identity document in your prior name, we may accept an unexpired identity document in your new name, as long as we can properly establish your identity in our records.
    Identity
    We can accept only certain documents as proof of identity. An acceptable document must be current (not expired) and show your name, identifying information (date of birth or age) and preferably a recent photograph. For example, as proof of identity Social Security must see your:
    • U.S. driver's license;
    • State-issued non-driver identification card; or
    • U.S. passport.
    If you do not have one of these specific documents or you cannot get a replacement for one of them within 10 days, we will ask to see other documents. Any documents submitted, including the following, must be current (not expired) and show your name, identifying information (date of birth or age) and preferably a recent photograph:
    • Employee identification card;
    • School identification card;
    • Health insurance card (not a Medicare card); or
    • U.S. military identification card.

    What original documents do I need?

    Citizenship
    If you have not already established your U.S. citizenship with us, we need to see proof of U.S. citizenship. We can accept only certain documents as proof of U.S. citizenship. These include:
    • U.S. passport;
    • Certificate of Naturalization (N-550/N-570);
    • Certificate of Citizenship (N-560/N-561);
    • Certificate of Report of Birth (DS-1350);
    • Consular Report of Birth Abroad (FS-240, CRBA).

    Name change
    If you need to change your name on your Social Security card, you must show us proof of your legal name change. Documents Social Security may accept to prove a legal name change include:
    • Marriage document;
    • Divorce decree;
    • Certificate of Naturalization showing the new name; or
    • Court order approving the name change.
    If the document you provide as evidence of a legal name change does not give us enough information to identify you in our records or if you changed your name more than two years ago (four years ago if you are under 18 years of age), you must show us an identity document in your prior name (as shown in our records). We will accept an identity document in your old name that has expired.
    If you do not have an identity document in your prior name, we may accept an unexpired identity document in your new name, as long as we can properly establish your identity in our records.
    Identity
    We can accept only certain documents as proof of identity. An acceptable document must be current (not expired) and show your name, identifying information (date of birth or age) and preferably a recent photograph. For example, as proof of identity Social Security must see your:
    • U.S. driver's license;
    • State-issued non-driver identification card; or
    • U.S. passport.
    If you do not have one of these specific documents or you cannot get a replacement for one of them within 10 days, we will ask to see other documents. Any documents submitted, including the following, must be current (not expired) and show your name, identifying information (date of birth or age) and preferably a recent photograph:
    • Employee identification card;
    • School identification card;
    • Health insurance card (not a Medicare card); or
    • U.S. military identification card.

    What original documents do I need?

    Immigration status
    To prove your U.S. immigration status, you must show us your current U.S. immigration document, such as:
      <>liForm I-551 (Lawful Permanent Resident Card, Machine Readable Immigrant Visa);
    • I-766 (Employment Authorization Document, EAD, work permit); or
    • I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) or admission stamp in the unexpired foreign passport.
    If you are an F-1 or M-1 student, you also must show us your I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status).
    If you are a J-1 or J-2 exchange visitor, you must show us your DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status).
    Work eligibility
    In general, only noncitizens who have DHS' permission to work can apply for a Social Security number. If you are a foreign worker, we only need to see your I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) or admission stamp in your unexpired foreign passport showing a class of admission permitting work. You may need to show your I-766 (Employment Authorization Document, EAD, work permit) from DHS.
    If you submit evidence of lawful work-authorized status along with evidence of your name change, we can issue you a corrected card with your new name.
    However, if we assigned you a Social Security number for non-work purposes, special rules apply. If DHS did not authorize you, we will change your name on our records but we cannot issue you a corrected card. You cannot use a Social Security number assigned for non-work purposes to work. If you use it to work, we will inform DHS.
    Student:
    F-1
    If you are an F-1 student and eligible to work on campus, you must provide a letter from your designated school official that:
    • Identifies you;
    • Confirms your current school status; and
    • Identifies your employer and the type of work you are, or will be, doing.
    • We also need to see evidence of that employment, such as a recent pay slip or a letter from your employer. Your supervisor must sign and date the letter. The letter must describe:
      • Your job;
      • Your employment start date;
      • The number of hours you are, or will be, working; and
      • Your supervisor's name and telephone number.
      If you are an F-1 student authorized to work in curricular practical training, you must provide us your Form I-20 with the employment page completed and signed by your designated school official.
      If you are an F-1 student and have a work permit (I-766) from DHS, you must present it.
      J-1
      If you are a J-1 student, student intern or international visitor, you must provide a letter from your sponsor. The letter should be on sponsor letterhead with an original signature that authorizes your employment.
      Name change
      If you need to change your name on your Social Security card, you must show us proof of your legal name change. Documents Social Security may accept to prove a legal name change include:
      • Marriage document;
      • Divorce decree;
      • Certificate of Naturalization showing the new name; or
      • Court order approving the name change.
      If the document you provide as evidence of a legal name change does not give us enough information to identify you in our records or if you changed your name more than two years ago (four years ago if you are under 18 years of age), you must show us an identity document in your prior name (as shown in our records). We will accept an identity document in your old name that has expired.
      If you do not have an identity document in your prior name, we may accept an unexpired identity document in your new name, as long as we can properly establish your identity in our records.
      Identity
      Social Security will ask to see your current U.S. immigration documents. Acceptable documents include:
      • I-551 Permanent Resident Card
      • I-94 Arrival/Departure Record with unexpired foreign passport, or
      • admission stamp in the unexpired foreign passport; or
      • I-766 Employment Authorization Document, (EAD, work permit) from DHS.