Getting your first Social Security card is a milestone event. It usually means that you have landed your first job.  You want everything to go smoothly when you go to the office to get your card.  One way to be fully prepared is to understand what you need to take with you to the Social Security office.


Your nine-digit Social Security number is your first and continuing link with Social Security. It helps us record your wages or self-employment income.  We also use it to monitor your record once you begin receiving benefits.

You need a Social Security number to get a job, collect Social Security benefits and get some other government benefits. Since you don’t need to show it often, don’t routinely carry your card with you.  Keep it in a safe place with your other important papers, except when you need to show it.  Keeping your social Security number card in a safe place is vital to protecting you against identity theft.


You will be asked to show documents to prove your age, your identity and your citizenship. Visit our website at https://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/ and under the How To Get A New, Replacement or Corrected Card, click on Learn What Documents You Need.  This decision tree will show you the kinds of documents you need to bring to the office.  The webpage asks you to select Who the card is for (An adult or a Child), the Type of Card ( Original, Replacement, or Corrected), and the Citizenship of the Person the Card is for.  After selection, the page will show what documents are needed.  For example, for a U. S. Born Citizen, we need to see a U. S. Birth Certificate or a U. S. Passport to prove your citizenship.  To prove your age, we need to see your birth certificate if one exists.  Only if one was not recorded at the time of your birth, can we accept other documents.  We may be able to accept a religious record made before you were five showing your date of birth, a U. S. hospital record of your birth; or a U. S. passport.  If you are twelve or older when you get your first card, you must appear in person.  To prove your identity, we will ask first for a U. S. driver’s license; State-issued non-identification card; or a U. S. passport.  An acceptable document will be current (not expired), and show your name and identifying information (date of birth or age) and preferably a recent photo.  We can never accept a photocopy of a document.

If you do not have one of these specific documents or you cannot get a replacement for one of these documents within 10 days, we will ask for other documents.  The document should be current, show identifying information and preferably have a recent photo.  We can review these documents:  employee identification card; school identification card; health insurance card (not a Medicare card); or U. S. military identification card.

We may be able to use one document for two purposes. For example, we may use your U. S. passport as proof of identity and citizenship. You must provide at least two separate documents.


Go back to the previous website page (https://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/) and click on Number 2 “Fill Out & Print an application”.  After you complete the form, round up your documents and head out to the Social Security office.  Don’t know where it is located?  Go to this link to use the Social Security Office Locator https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp.  Enter your zip code and the office address will be shown.  Collect your forms and you’re on your way.


All the documents you show us must be either originals or copies made by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents.

Use this link http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w/index.htm to get a certified copy of a birth certificate, death certificate, marriage certificate or divorce decree in the state where the event occurred.

Remember that our services are free. Some businesses offer Social Security name changes or cards for a fee.  Don’t pay for something we will give you free.




Mickie has worked for the Social Security Administration for over 35 years. As a Public Affairs Specialist, her goal is to make Social Security easy to understand.

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