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How to Get Social Security Card


Social Security card is a document that allows you to work legally on the territory of US. Social Security number is very important when it comes to medicaid, getting loans, credit cards, signing a contract with mobile service providers and other important aspects of your life. It is as important as your passport number is.

If you don't have a social security card, you should apply for it and to get this important document. If you don't know how to do that, the following instruction will help you t figure out.



Collect documents

To make a long story short, you need to prepare all the needed documents, then you need to fill out a SS-5 form (an application for obtaining social security card) and either go in person to a Social security center or mail you SS-5 form and docs there. Let's have a look on each of these steps in a closer way.


There could be 4 various variants of documents that you can have and they all depend on your status of US citizenship which means there could be 4 various sets of documents.

U.S. born citizens

You need to have a U.S. Birth certificate or a U.S. passport, U.S. driver's license (if you have one), other identification cards that were issued by state, school ID card, health insurance card, employee ID card, U.S. military ID card. Provide all those documents from this list that you have.

Foreign born U.S. citizens

The same as of the previous one, except for you have to bring both U.S. birth certificate and U.S. passport and either Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization.

Foreign born non U.S. citizens that are adopted by U.S. Citizens

You need to provide the following list of documents:

  • FS-240 (Consular Report of Birth Abroad) or DS-1350 (Certification of Report of Birth) or a U.S. passport, if you don't have any of them then provide I-94 (Arrival/ Departure Record);
  • foreign birth certificate;
  • adoption degree, daycare center or school record, school ID, doctor, clinic or other medical record, religious record (bring all those that you have);
  • a person who is adopting a child should bring all those documents that are listed under U.S. born citizens section above.


There could be multiple variations of documents that you can provide. You need to bring those documents from the list below that you have:

  • one of forms I-551 plus a foreign passport (Lawful Permanent Resident Card, Machine Readable Immigrant Visa), I-94 (Arrival/ Departure Record) or I-766 (work permission);
  • F-1 or M-1 student visas plus I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status) along with docs that identify you, prove you are a student and you are going to work on US. Additional to F-1 you also need to have forms I-20, I-766.
  • J-1 or J-2 exchange visitor form plus DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status), in addition to J-1 you need to provide letter form a sponsor.

SS-5: application for a Social Security Card

From http://ssa.gov/ssnumber/ss5.html download a PDF File with this form. Print it out and fill it out.


Bring docs and SS-5 to your local SS office

https://secure.ssa.gov/apps6z/FOLO/fo001.jsp Follow this link and insert your zip code into a tab in the bottom of the page. When you click on Locate button, website would suggest the closes offices to you. If they are still far away - send a letter with docs and SS-5 form to the closes Social Security office to you.


  • Don't bring (or send) documents that are just copied with a xerox - either they should be the originals or these should be copies that are certified by the issuing agency.
  • Never take your social security card everywhere with you. In case you need to prove you have it, you'll only need to provide its number. So to avoid all the paper work with replacing a lost social security card, simply write down its number somewhere and keep it with you.
  • Don't apply for a social security card if you are younger than 12 years



Getting a social security card is a thing that you only need to do once. Yes, it's time consuming to get all these papers together but Social Security Card is as important as your passport so do that once and use its number for the rest of your life.

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